By Ben Neale
Do you have a website that doesn't bring you any business?
Are you worried about investing more money in a website that isn't performing?
Well here is some good news: affordable websites can make you money!
There's a myth circulating that you have to invest a fortune to make money through the web. Of course the likes of Amazon and eBay have thrown cash at their websites and are reaping the rewards, but I'm not talking about companies of that size. Budget websites can also generate income with the right approach.
The great thing about doing business online is that you can keep your overheads low. No need for expensive shop fronts, offices, printed brochures or a large workforce. Ideal for the small business without endless capital resources.
It is perfectly possible to do business via the web and make a tidy profit using a modest website on a small budget, providing you follow some basic rules regarding content and structure, and concentrate on converting visitors into sales.
I read a fascinating article last week, by Michael L. McGrath of MLM Celtic Enterprises, which successfully articulated some similar ideas that I have been talking to my clients about recently:
"Every web site has a Most Desired Response, that which the the site owner wants the visitor to do while visiting, and that MDR needs to be identified. The site's design and content need to be crafted tightly and well around the MDR, identify it with absolute clarity, and remove all obstacles that might prevent a visitor from the response."
That - in a nutshell - is the key to a successful, profitable website, and it need not cost the earth!
It's amazing how many start-ups fail to grasp this idea, and then complain that their website fails to bring them any business. Imagine that. If you follow a few basic rules, you can produce websites that actually bring you business.
Concentrate on the following:
identifying your Most Desired Response
identifying your target audience
structuring your site and preparing content, based on your MDR and your target audience.
Identify your site's Most Desired Response
Rather than thinking about how you would like your site to perform, think about how you would like your customers to behave. There's a subtle but crucial difference.
More often than not, your MDR will be a visitor buying your product or service. By the way, if you want to take online credit/debit card transactions, you can use PayPal, which is quick and easy to set up. All you need is a bank account to get started.
But your Most Desired Response doesn't have to involve an online transaction. Very often an MDR will be making a phone call, making contact via email, or simply registering personal or business details.
Be sure of your target audience
Successful small businesses identify and corner niche markets, rather than attempt to take on the world! This is doubly important for online marketing, because you will want to avoid competitive keywords when preparing your content for the search engines.
Structure your site and prepare your content
Once you have established your MDR and identified your Target Market, you can begin to structure your site. The structure and content of your site should serve exclusively to trigger the Most Desired Response from your Target Market. Anything which does not fulfill this criterion is superfluous and should be discarded. Be ruthless about this. Avoid building in gimmicks to your site, which only serve to distract your visitors from the MDR.
I recommend drawing a flow chart which maps your visitors' journey beginning with the keywords they enter into Google, and tracking their movement through your site to the holy grail - the Most Desired Response.
When preparing your content, you will need to bear two things in mind. Firstly, it has to comply with the MDR. Avoid superfluous waffle, and make sure everything you say is leading your visitor towards that all important conversion. Secondly, you will need to make sure that your content attracts your target audience to the site in the first place - via the search engines. Start by identifying the right keywords - or more accurately keyphrases - and then ensure that they feature in your content.
In the online world, niche markets take on an even more important role, when you come to choose keywords. The big boys will have the generic keywords sewn up already, and those keywords won't bring you targeted traffic anyway. If you can concentrate on a specialist or localised market so much the better. You will stand a far better chance of driving targeted traffic to your site and generating hot leads. Of course you need to make sure that your keywords are not so specialised that none of your potential customers are using them. It's a fine balancing act. Nichebot offers a useful tool for working out the most productive keywords.
So you see, none of this is going to cost you the earth. A great deal of thinking and research (I never said it was easy!), but not a great deal of money. Quite the reverse: if you follow the rules, you will soon be making money.
This article was posted on March 24, 2006