Internet Success Tips

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GET AN ONLINE MARKETING AUDIT FROM JOAN HOLMAN

Named in 2008 as one of the top online marketing gurus "on the planet", Joan Holman helps business owners and professionals create and execute business and marketing strategies for today's online world. She can assess your website and online presence including social media and make recommendations for improvements and enhancements that will contribute to your business success.


8 Tips for Using the Internet for Business Success 

by Joan Holman / copyright 2010


1. Find Out How Your Customers Use The Internet

Survey existing customers about their use of the Internet. If your customers are young, they may especially be accessing the Internet via smartphones. How does your website work on a smartphone? Ninety four percent of college students rarely use e-mail. Instead they use text messaging and Facebook. In fact, over 50% of Internet users under the age of 30 spend at least 90% of their time online on Facebook. Do you have a presence on Facebook? A company page on Facebook? Are you using Facebook to engage with your prospects and customers? 


Find out how your prospects and customers access the Internet and what types of computer, browser and e-mail program they use. If your customer base is older, they may not have the latest and greatest plug-ins or versions of Flash. (This is important to know when sending e-mail and e-mail attachments and for designing a Web site). 


Very frequently, e-mail and e-mail attachments are not sent in a format that can be viewed by everyone. And unless your Web site is designed for the lowest common denominator, customers who access your Web site via lower level browsers, and older computers may have problems with viewing and using your site. 


2. Have An Internet Strategy 

Define what you want to accomplish with your online presence. This includes your Web site(s); e-mail; social media and online interaction with customers, vendors and employees; Internet-based joint ventures; online advertising; and online publicity. Be aware of ways to cut costs by using the Internet and have specific cost-savings goals. 


3. Get The E-mail Address of Every Customer and Get Permission to Communicate with Them

Do not bombard your customers with unsolicited e-mails. Ninety percent of the many trillions of e-mail messages sent annually is spam and spam filters have gotten very aggressive. In fact, your e-mails may not even get through to the intended recipients. People are fed up with spam so make sure to send e-mails only to those who have given you permission to contact them and then make sure you provide them with something of interest and and value to them. This can include new product announcements, product information, special sales and discounts. 


4. Use The Internet to Make It Easy for Your Customers to Do Business with You

When you survey your customers, ask them what you can do to make doing business with you easier for them. Would they like to order online? Verify orders online? Get customer support online? What would they like to find on your Web site? It is a good idea to have a place on your Web site where customers can offer you feedback about your Web site, products and services, as well as suggest ideas for new products and services. 


5. Provide Customer Support on Your Web Site

Michael Dell, CEO and founder of Dell Computer has said that customer support is the most beneficial application on the Web. People on the Internet love to help themselves, so you should design a Web site that helps your customers to do this. A large percentage of Internet users access the Web for product information. Since they conduct research to help them make informed decisions, you need to provide extensive information about your products and services. 


After people have purchased a product, they also like to go to a Web site to learn how to use the product. Take, for instance, Cisco, a world leader in e-commerce, with billions of dollars in sales coming from its Web site. The company saves more than a half a billion dollars a year of customer service costs by allowing customers to get technical support and order status information on its Web site. And a strong community of Cisco customers help each other with technical questions, right on the Cisco Web site.


6. Conduct A Test - Use The Internet To Do Business with Your Own Company 

If you have a Web site, go to it and notice what problems and frustrations you encounter. Can you easily find a phone number, an address, send an e-mail to the appropriate person? Can you easily print out a Web page from the site to pass along to someone else? How does that printed page look? Does it have your Web site address on it? Your company phone number and address? How easy is it to find out what products and services are offered and to answer a question about your products and services? Can an order be placed online? Can an order be tracked online? Is there a way to tell your company what new products and features you would like? Is there a way you can tell your company how to make your life easier? Try e-mailing your company. How quickly and effective is the response to the e-mail inquiry? 


7. Optimize Your Web Site 

Designing for the Web differs greatly than designing for print. The design constraints are numerous. Care must be taken with color because of incompatible color standards among different operating systems and browser types. Using non-standard fonts are a problem because a user's browser will substitute whatever is available on the local system. Download time is also a consideration since users connect to the Web at different connection speeds, and many home computers are still using slow dial-up speeds.  It is important to know your audience so you can design your Web site to accommodate it. 


8. Design and Write for The Web

Many web designers like to get very "artsy" or "techie"and use a lot of bells and whistles such as animation, music playing in the background, special graphics, funky artwork, unusual designs and layouts, dramatic black background settings, etc. Be very careful with this since it can be very distracting to the user. Always remember that the main goal of your Web site should be to make it easy for customers and prospects to get what they need. 


People visit your Web site for content, not for the design, and although you want your design to look professional, there are many Web sites that make a nice profit even though the design is very plain such as The Drudge Report, one of the most popular news web sites. 

It is critical to make your text very easy to read by having dark text on a light or white background and breaking up text into small chunks. Keep in mind that many online readers prefer to scan text and go to supporting pages for more information. And keep the width of the text narrow for ease of reading. 



and some other advice...............


Follow The Leaders 

Millions of dollars have been spent on usability studies to help design the most popular and successful Web sites such as amazon.com, yahoo.com, and theknot.com


These Web sites have been developed by dotcom companies who understand the new rules of the network economy. You can learn a lot by studying these and other successful Web sites. 


Your site does not have to look exactly like these sites, but there are many elements that you should emulate such as quick download time, ease of use, ease of reading, clear navigation, consistency, graphics optimization, etc. 


You can get good input by having several customers attempt to use your site. 


Get their feedback so you can make your site easier and faster to use. 


Ask them to perform a specific task, such as getting information about a certain product. 


Most Companies Design Web Sites Incorrectly

There are usually problems with established companies putting up a Web site because they do not really understand the culture and constraints of the Internet and use an offline approach to the new online world. 


People who have little or no knowledge about what really works on the Web end up making the decisions about how the Web site should look and what it should contain. 


Another problem is that most people working as Web site developers were trained as programmers or graphic artists and lack expertise on Internet marketing and on using the Internet for business development.


Use The Internet for Competitor Research 

You should visit all of your competitors' Web sites and evaluate each site for corporate image, ease of use, content, services, and all of the other considerations used to evaluate your own site (found in Tips #6 and 7).


Do Your Research Anonymously

It is possible to be identified when you surf your competitors' sites, so to remain anonymous you will have to use some special tactics. Go to the Anonymizer Web site at www.anonymizer.com


Passing through this Web site when you explore your competitors' Web sites will make it very difficult for you to be identified. It prevents exposure of your domain name (i.e., mycompany.com), possibly even your actual name as found in your e-mail (i.e., president@mycompany.com), and your IP number which tells which Internet Service Provider you are using. Some security-sensitive sites do filter out specific domain names, so it is possible that you could be unable to access certain Web sites. 


Find Out Who Owns A Domain Name

If you want to see who owns a domain name or if a domain name is available (such as amazon.com) go to www.domaintools.com.


Other Resources

You should use the major search engines to find out anything that is being said about you and your competitors. To get Dun and Bradstreet ratings, go to www.dnb.com. Another resource for information is www.lexisnexis.com. To monitor your competition online, you can use the services of www.ewatch.com. For a fee, eWatch and WebWatch enable you to monitor information and web sites that affect your business. 




About Joan Holman 

Joan Holman, The Internet Marketing Wizard, has over 25 years of experience in marketing and communications and has been specializing in the Internet since 1995. An Internet consultant, Web designer/developer and national speaker about the Internet, she was one of the first people in the world to have her own domain name and web site. Joan applies the knowledge base of the most successful Internet marketing minds on the planet along with her creative insights into developing powerful Internet marketing solutions for businesses. She is dedicated to helping create business success through the use of the Internet. 


Joan may be contacted by phone at 952-595-8888, by e-mail at joan@holman.com. 

Joan Holman Provides Internet Consulting, Internet Marketing Strategies, Website Analysis, Website Design/Development, Speaking and Seminars to Help You Use the Internet for Business Success!



A New Book by Online Marketing Expert Joan Holman  / Coming Soon!


Jump Start Your Sales with Effective Online Marketing


Here is a sampling of some of the things Joan Holman will be discussing in her new book:


(1) WHO IS HOSTING AND CONTROLLING YOUR WEB SITE? CAN YOU TRUST THEM? I designed and developed a web site for a client (whose identity will remain anonymous), and after a couple of years they wanted to make it an e-commerce web site. They knew someone else who was very eager to get the business and who wooed them away from me. This other person had no background or knowledge with online marketing and built and hosted their web site for e-commerce. This novice web site developer obviously knew nothing about online security and about the importance of setting up secure transactions and systems for credit card sales. His actions, based upon his inexperience and ignorance, created a financial liability for the company that lost the company a very large amount of money, and which would have destroyed a smaller company which did not have the financial resources to take such a huge loss. Credit card numbers that he stored were stolen and used and the company was held liable.


(2) IS YOUR WEB SITE GOING TO BE THERE TOMORROW?  I met a business owner who had invested a large sum in the development of a web site. This business owner hired a web design person who developed and hosted the site. One day that web design person disappeared and so did the business owner's web site. There were no backups to the site and the owner lost the site and the entire investment in the site. Be sure to work with someone you trust. Personally I recommend Go Daddy as a reliable web hosting company. I have had a very good experience with them.


(3) IS YOUR WEB SITE BEAUTIFUL BUT NOT GETTING YOU ANY BUSINESS.  I have businesses come to all the time telling me they are just not getting any results from their web sites. No prospects, no customers, no business. When I analyze their web sites, I often find that they are beautifully designed, but are not search-engine friendly. They are built in Flash or use too many graphics, do not have good information, good content, good copywriting, and so on. One of my clients had spent over $100,000 on a web site that was a total waste of money because it was completely built in Flash and did not download quickly and it also required some special plug-ins and in fact, when I analyzed his target audience, they were older, less tech savvy and less likely to be able to access the web site because they did not have the latest and greatest  Flash player and other plug-ins. 


(4) BEST WEB SERVICES PROVIDERS.  Over the years I have seen many Internet companies come and go. Many web designers come and go. Many hosting companies come and go. You need to make sure that your web site is hosted with a company that is going to be there tomorrow and not disappear, and your web site with it. (yes, you can get backups to your web site, but it can still be very inconvenient if your hosting company disappears). Clients will come to me with names of possible providers for all kinds of web services and I am always very cautious about companies that have no history, no track record and no credibility. Be very careful who you work with. In my book Jump Start Your Sales with Effective Online Marketing, I will share my recommendations for the top providers with the strongest track records and credibility in the marketplace.





Joan Holman Productions (an I.A.M., Inc company)  •  13033 Ridgedale Drive, Suite 167, Minnetonka, Minnesota 55305  •  PHONE: 763-703-5911  •  e-mail: joan{at}holman.com • copyright 2018 all rights reserved • www.holman.com • serving Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota & the world