Web Success Series: # 1 You Gotta Start Someplace
Green Host It recognizes that our success depends on your success so, as part of our core corporate culture, we provide all the tools you need to build, launch and manage a successful web-based business – including the information you need to do it RIGHT!
So welcome to the first in a series of “how-to” articles on topics related to web success. We’ll keep it simple, eliminate the techno-babble and provide, not only the tools, but the know-how to achieve web success.
Your success is our success.
Where to start? Well, if you don’t know anything about the world wide web, that’s the place to start. How does it work? How do you connect to it? How do search engines, like Google, rank your site on search engine results pages (SERPs), for instance? Should you choose green hosting for your website?
This is your marketplace and it’s “raw-meat” fierce on line. Check out a few stats:
- There are 225,000,000 web sites currently on line so if you’re just dipping in your toe, a lot of people have a good head start on you . Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, has a BIG head start on you – especially of you’re planning to build an on-line book store.
- So, before you shell out any dough on a web host – the company that stores your web site and provides access to the web so visitors can find you – before you start your keyword analysis, or you start designing you web site, do some research to determine just what you’re getting yourself in to.
- 6,000 new web-based businesses launch every day. You better get moving. The web-based marketplace is the fastest growing, most competitive marketplace in the history of humankind. Each day, 6,000 new competitors for web surfers’ attention go live, making your job of reaching success that more difficult.
- 94% of all web sites fail within 12 months. Now, if that ain’t a cold slap in the face, NOTHING is. The deck is stacked against you. The odds are not in your favor. But…
- …there are millions of people earning good money on the W3, either as full-time business owners, or to supplement their day job paychecks. Not only can it be done, it’s done every day by people who are no smarter or business savvy than you are. So, yes, the odds ARE stacked against you but, if you do it right (we’re going to show you how to do it right) you can make money of the web.
- Special note: There are like a million “get-rich-quick” web schemes out there. You pay $149 and some guy you don’t know will tell you how to make a million on the web. Avoid these jokers like the Ebola virus. IF they could make a million bucks on the web, they would tell you how? Why add another piranha to the tank?
- You have 6.4 seconds to keep a visitor on site. That’s a scary stat. It doesn’t give you much time to grab a visitor’s attention and it gives you no time to get across your corporate culture, mission statement, bios of company officials and so on.
- There’s an old saying in advertising: the headline is half the job. Think about that when you start to plan the look and feel of your web site.
And how do you do that? Here are five tips to start you on your digital journey to web success – IF you do it right. (The good news is you can build and run a web site for a whole year for less than a hundred bucks so you can’t lose too much. You lose more than that in the car seat each year.)
1. What is the purpose of your web site?
Basically, there are three reasons people put up a web site, all of them involve selling, or at least persuading:
to sell products (everything from stoves to pukka shell necklaces)
to sell services (accounting, medical, house painting – we DO something for you)
to sell a message: advocacy groups, not-for-profits, political candidates – all trying to sell you on their “message” to vote, donate, support, volunteer or contribute in some other way – even by spreading the message by word of mouth.
So question number one: Why are you building a web site? Everything else develops based on your answer to this simply complex question – and it is both simple and complex so give it some thought.
2. What is your target demographic?
These are the people you’re trying to reach: retirees, nurses, pregnant moms, home schoolers, building contractors, Republicans – define your broad demographic.
Then refine your broad demographic by identifying the “sweet spot” of that broader demographic. The best way to do this? Write a brief description of the perfect buyer of your goods, services or messages.
That’s the sweet spot of your market. And that’s the group of prospects your web site targets in everything from look and feel to the language you use in your site text. If you’re trying to hit teens, a dull, beige site motif will send site visitors bouncing. A lime green, edgy, screechy looking site will grab the attention of that sweet spot and pull them in.
3. Perform a market analysis.
This is so easy to do thanks to search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Simply type into the search engine’s search box words that describe your business to see who or what pops up. If you’re projected business hits a broad demographic you’ll quickly discover that you have millions of competitors, all of whom have a good head start on you as you sit at the kitchen table trying to decide if this is a good idea or not.
Also, type in some keywords into Google’s search box. Keywords are the common words search engine users enter when they use search engines to find whatever it is they’re looking for. Use your intuition to enter in keywords you think your sweet spot buyers would enter and, again, see who or what pops up.
That’s your competition. Ready to go head to head with these e-trepreneurs? You better be.
4. Develop your unique positioning statement.
A unique positioning statement (UPS) is sometimes called a unique selling position (USP), but no matter what you call it, you better develop one early in your planning.
Visit competitor sites to analyze what you think they’re doing wrong and what they’re doing right. Start on the first SERP since search engines sort SERPs using complex mathematical algorithms to assess what each site is about and how relevant that site is to the search engine user’s query (keywords entered).
Make a list of the things that will distinguish YOUR web site from the 560,000 other web sites selling the same product or service. Develop a list of at least five points that will make your web site unique. For example, your minimal market research shows that no other competitors offers free shipping so guess what?
SHIPPING IS ALWAYS FREE AT XYZ SPORTING GOODS appears at the top of every page of your web site to distinguish you from the competition that makes a few points on margin by charging for shipping and handling.
Or how about:
WE GUARANTEE EVERYTHING WE SELL
NO QUESTIONS ASKED!
If the competition doesn’t offer a hassle-free return policy and you do, who are site visitor’s going to buy from?
5. Create a business plan.
And write it down.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t require a bunch of legal boilerplate. But it should answer the most basic questions any business owner asks:
- Where will I get the money to build the business?
- How much money will I need to launch my business?
- Where will I get the money to market the business? (in a highly-competitive marketplace)
- What will I need to launch my business?
- How will the business function day-to-day? (You working it full time? Using a drop shipper? Your kid?)
- How much money can you afford to lose? The prudent business owner always calculates the worst case scenario, no matter how gruesome.
- What are my short- and long- objectives? Short-term goals include things like launch date, 6-month earnings, 12-month earnings and so on. Long-term objectives include the means you’ll employ to grow your business, i.e. expand service offerings in year two, add a brick-and mortar outlet in year 4 and so on.
- How you gonna make this bird fly?
When developing your business plan be sure to include the all important question: How will I make money? There are 10 ways to make money from a web site. With a little study you can monetize your web site to develop several revenue streams, each contributing a little to your bottom line. This way, no one source of business revenue carries the entire weight of business success.
So, start thinking before you do anything else. Who? What? Where? When? How? Why? Ask each of these questions. Conduct some market research. Visit some web sites that provide impartial, utile information so you know what you’re getting in to.
In other words, do your homework before you spend a single penny. Day dream – a lot. Ask yourself a bunch of what if questions. Talk to friends and family. Talk to business owners who can help you with co-op marketing or wholesale pricing.
Too many web site owners believe the hype. They think the world wide web is the fast track to fast wealth. It’s not. But it is the last, best place for anyone with the desire to own a business, to build a company without taking out a second mortgage. 6,000 people do it every day.
Just take your time. Don’t deny the possibility of failure. In fact, add that to your list of things to think about. Then develop a plan that’s bullet-proof – one that addresses all of the possible causes of web business failure.
And be sure to continue to follow the Green Host It’s Guide to Web Success in the weeks and months ahead.
We want your web business to succeed. Why? Because that’s how WE succeed as a web hosting company.