When Should You Fire Your Website Designer When he doesn’t know your business. You may say that it isn’t his job. But you are wrong. Your online business is not a wild crazy idea, but a source of your income. Trust the right people to design your website. Your 17 year old nephew may be able to create your website or you can get a free one from several services…they might even be kind of pretty. In my research and experience, less than 2% of businesses that have websites have planted the seeds to online success. Many of them are your competitors. The problem is web designers focus on the technical aspects of the site. They don’t have a clue how to build a website that makes you a ton of money, drives floods of traffic, and gets you top placement on search engines. Why Do You Have a Website? Just one simple fact. The reason you have a website for your business, no matter what business you are in, is you want to rake in bundles of cash. May be not now but definitely later it should be bringing returns on the investment. . How does a website make money for your business? Well, there are only 5 things that matter if your site is going to be a cash magnet: 1. You have to be “findable” on the web 2. You have to generate leads = people to your site 3. The leads need to become prospects 4. The prospects have to be converted to buyers = sales 5. You should save bundles of money that you are spending now, on things like customer service, order fulfillment, delivery tracking, automating offers…anywhere that information is provided without getting a bunch of humans involved. That’s all there is to it! If your web designers know these well and fine, BUT most do not. Worse, website maintenance costs money. And you are losing business to competition. That is BAD. Your Website is Like Your Business. You Want It to Make Money. And Save Time. All the Time. Years ago I took one of my own ideas and created a $1 million+ online business from scratch. It is now on the first page of the search engines. And it’s my business and livelihood. Make sure that your web designer owes a successful online business and knows about how to run it. Your sole purpose in having a website should be to use it as a marketing and communications tool. It is not there to be pretty. It should not be there to win awards. It is there to make you money. Even if you have a better product or service than your competition, the one who attracts more prospects and customers – wins! Being the best at marketing is all that matters. Online Marketing Is Completely Different Than Marketing Offline All of the tools, techniques, communication, etc. in the online world are different than those offline. A very common mistake is to think because it works offline you can just put it on the website! It’s important to realize the reader of offline thinks and processes information in a different way than someone reading online copy. What works offline may be a complete flop online. They are two different worlds. For example, online marketing REQUIRES you to know how to get your site ranked high, very high, in the search engines like Google and Yahoo….so you routinely appear on the first page for the optimal search terms for your business. Of course, this assumes you know how to find the optimal words for your business, your marketplace, your niche, etc. Just so you know, the “include all words” strategy has proven to be a total failure. And, most designers and businesses do not know that SEO (search engine optimization) is not SEM (search engine marketing). If you do one and not the other you will probably be very disappointed with your results. Studies have shown that you need to be on the first page of search engine results to get enough people coming to your site. SEO and SEM are not optional for online success – they are mandatory! 62% of users searching on the internet select a result within the first page of results. More than 90% click within the first 3 pages of search results. Beyond that you are toast. Increase your ROI: Only Work with People Who Know Websites and Online Marketing When you are planning your financial future you hire a financial planner or an attorney who specializes in that area of law. When you want plastic surgery you don’t go to a podiatrist, unless you want to end up with your nose looking like a foot. So why wouldn’t you hire someone who specializes in creating money-making websites to build your website? Why would you hire a techno-wizard who knows nothing about businesses? I know this sounds silly but I have to say it because that is what the great majority of people do – pay someone to build a pretty site and slap it online and hope for the best. Did you know that 99% of web design companies don’t know how to devise online sites that actually market your products or services? So what you need is someone who can do more than build a website. Much, Much More! You need people who can help you with how to create “hot” products or services that your customers really want. You need people who make it possible for you to have a “money tree” business. People who can produce money like it grows on trees. People who have the communication skills you need to capture the attention and “cash the order” with your customers. Online or offline. (That means using multiple marketing channels and starting with the lowest cost = online!) You need people with real world experience as well as online experience that can combine the two for the benefit of…YOU. No one has the time to learn everything about their business, the internet, marketing, copywriting, finances and so on. That is why… “The price of ignorance is paid forever!" Successful entrepreneurs value all the real-world experience they can get. Where do they get it? By surrounding themselves with a team of experts who can provide the knowledge, guidance and successful experience for a wide variety of businesses. One of the many beauties of direct marketing online, you never are face-to-face with your prospects, you never, ever experience a single “No” response! No one enjoys hearing “No.” At first it seems like a personal rejection. For lots of people, never hearing anything but “Yes” is a lot of fun too! Always Remember Your Website is your Marketing Machine I just talked about how a good looking site can be totally useless and invisible to the public. I talked about how and why you want to be on the first page of the search engines. Now, about driving people to your website. This is more than “being found” for the right search terms. This is about having a comprehensive strategy that links your offline and online marketing together to create leverage for your business and get maximum results. Everything you do must have synergy, leverage and scalability. If not, don’t do it. You need to be sure your online partner can: • Create a site that entices visitors to convert from information seekers to paying customers • Generate a stream of online and offline leads • Show you what functions of your business can be automated to save you money…and put that savings to good use…getting more customers • Show you the secrets of capturing information and how to utilize it for easy access and follow up • Show you how to make more sales with your existing customers • Help you set up marketing campaigns that get real results and build customer loyalty • Help you use email marketing ethically and effectively Seriously, if your web designer/dungeon master/graphic zulu can not do ALL of these things and more, FIRE them now. You are wasting time and money! And time is often worth more than money! Test, Test, and Test Some More & Collaborate Results and Changes If you really want online success, or even offline success, then you must understand the importance of successful marketing testing. It is Crucial. Start with these questions: • Have you tested each of your offline campaigns? • Do you know the return on investment for each offline strategy? • Do you know the speed of the return investment? • Do you know all the measures for your website traffic? • Do you know the unique visitors, hits, time spent, pages hit, etc., etc., etc. for your website? More questions: • Do you know how both your offline and online marketing complement each other? And affect each other? • Do you even have a Total Marketing Strategy? Okay, I’m not trying to overwhelm you but here are a few specific areas of just your online world that should also be tested. • Your headlines • Your home page • Your navigation settings • Your key word selection • Your links both incoming and outgoing • Your customer offers, bonuses, etc. • Your information offers • Your location of certain offers, features, buttons, etc. • Your shopping cart (if you have one) • Your prospect capturing system • Your prospect and customer communication system • Your pictures and graphics • Your lead generation techniques • Your automated business functions And, test how these variables and others interact and affect one another. You can’t test in a vacuum. You need good information in order to decide what you will continue to use, what you will modify and re-test, and what you will get rid of. Did you now that your testing should never stop? And, you must have real testing results before making decisions. That means real numbers, statistics, data…you get the idea. Businesses that are wildly successful with their offline and online strategies are always rabid about testing and knowing how and what to test. That is the only way to really rake it in! Track and Measure…Correctly You want to know everything that is happening on your website, or not happening. All of that testing will do you no good if you are not measuring and tracking all of the data associated with it. Here are some of the tracking measures you should be talking to your web designer/builder about. In fact, they should be talking to you about these things. If you have to bring them up you are already in trouble, with a capital T. • How many visitors are coming to the site • How many of the visitors aren’t visitors (i.e. spiders, crawlers, etc. from search engines) • How many visitors are new vs. old • How long does each visitor stay on your site • What does each visitor look at • What graphics, words, pictures, etc are generating the most responses • Which search engines are getting you the best prospects • Where else are your customers coming from • How many pages does the visitor look at • What are your website rankings • How much money have you made from the average visitor • Who are your biggest money-making customers • If you use PPC is it working and paying for itself • Which links are bringing your visitors and are they converting to customers • And so on This is not a comprehensive listing, rather, it gives you an idea of how many things you could or should be tracking when it comes to your online marketing. If you are like most people, you are thinking “there is no way I could remember all of that, much less do it.” You would be right. Remember, that is why we all need a team of experts around us to do the things we either don’t know or don’t have time for. But, if you use these kinds of tools and tracking you will join the 1-2% of successful online businesses. You do want to make money with your website, right? It is simple, your website should bring in more money than it costs to maintain it! What I see everyday is that our clients do not have any idea about virtually any of these statistics. So, they are not making good decisions about what to do next. Most are just leaving the website as-is and hoping for the best. You should get measurements for every aspect of your business including offline so that you make informed decisions based on facts, not fiction! Some Final Thoughts Today, you must be ONLINE with a WEBSITE to be successful. Research has shown that people are abandoning the yellow pages and many other ‘traditional’ forms of advertising. The internet is the #1 SOURCE for information on virtually every topic or subject you can imagine…and still growing rapidly. It is as it has always been - survival of the fittest. Those businesses which combine their offline and online strategies to maximize their effectiveness are going to survive and thrive. The others will die. And in these times there will be more deaths than usual. You see it, the ‘for lease’ signs appearing everywhere, the ‘announcement’ each week of another big business failure, the empty spaces in office buildings. Now is not the time to sit by in the corner huddled with fear. If that is you then you will soon join the ranks of dying businesses. There are a select few who are taking action, gaining market share, taking in those customers from those dying businesses, and thriving! And they are positioned to be even bigger winners when the economy recovers. Which one are you? Hopefully you have gained some valuable insights that will help you achieve outstanding results with your business online and offline. Our goal is to grow our business by helping people like you grow yours. The more you learn about us the more you will see that we run our business with the same ethics, values and business building tools we recommend to you. The key to lasting success is to create lasting value. Turn transactions into relationships. In fact, the last sentence may be the most important and valuable one you read.