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Featured Articles: 2 Ways to Test How Easily Customers Navigate Throughout Your Website
Internet Article By Candice Pardue

For successful results from your website, I would have to say that the ease of navigation for your visitors when they first visit your website is the most important upfront web design factor to test.

Why? Because if your customers never make it beyond the first page of your site(your homepage), how will they ever get to the sales page -- which is the desired finish line, right?

Think back to a really great site you've visited recently and how easily you maneuvered around that website. Probably, the homepage had links down the right-hand or left-hand sidebar, an introduction to tell you a little about the site and/or the product or service offered, and no doubt the site had a purpose.

This key factor is exactly what's missing in many sites, and because it's missing, "visitors" seldom turn into paying "customers."

Below are two distinct methods you can use to test the navigation of your website:

1. Use your web host's website statistics. Your statistics will relay to you how many visitors are coming to your website, which pages they visit the most, the most popular entrance pages and exit pages, and how many pages were visited in your site versus how many visitors. The statistics you will want to concentrate on are the exit pages as well as the number of pages/number of visitors ratio.

By checking your exit pages, you can find out if a large number of visitors are exiting your website from the homepage. If the great majority are exiting from your homepage, you may want to make some changes on your homepage and test different layouts and content.

Your total number of pages visited versus the total number of visitors helps you to determine how many pages your visitors clicked to while visiting your site. For example, if your total number of pages is 1,400 and your total number of visitors is 700 for the same period of time - such as within one week or one day, then your total number of pages per visitor would be 2. The way I arrived at the figure 2 was by simply dividing your number of pages by the number of visitors. This tells you that many of your visitors are at least clicking beyond the first page entered. This could be good or bad, depending on what type of website you have, your product or service, and sales presentation.

2. The second method is to let your family members or friends visit your website for the first time with "you" watching from behind. You will observe their actions and reactions to your website. They may not tell you that anything's wrong, but you can test your navigation simply by watching their movement. The most important thing to watch for is a stopping point. If your friend/relative comes to a stopping point where he/she does not move forward(reading or clicking), this may be a place on your website for you to test a different method. The only exception, of course, would be if he/she "stops" to order your product. :-) In that case, don't change a thing! And, by the way, don't tell your friend that you're observing for anything in particular.

Remember, don't just design a website, design an effective website.
Now that you know how to test your website's navigation, go here to read a continuation article on the subject... "How to Make Your Homepage Flow" to learn some techniques that will help turn your visitors into paying customers....
http://www.webmastercourse.com/articles/make-your-homepage-flow/


Article written by Candice Pardue, webmaster of Online Success for Internet Business.


Posted by admin on Sunday, January 23 @ 09:23:28 EST (565 reads)


Featured Articles: WhyYouNeedThatPerfectName.com
Internet Article By Liji Thomas

Welcome to the dotcom bubble! Here, any successful e-tailer should tell you that there’s more to a name than just the name itself. This article serves precisely that purpose –against the backdrop of quality domain naming strategies and styles, auctions, speculators and court conflicts, to convince you why your online endeavor needs that perfect domain name.

There’s no point in coming up with that absolutely fabulous idea for online selling plus a perfect site to launch from, as long as you don’t have ‘the’ name you need. Choosing a name that will eventually contribute to your brand equity, profits, internet marketing and above all -your online credibility, shouldn’t be done haphazardly. Especially, since it’s so easily purchased (for a low startup capital), easily maintained and one that, if you choose, may be disposed off at a substantial amount. Intentionally or otherwise, your domain name becomes your de facto brand name, a location or an experience your visitors relate to in the long run. Even if you plan to sell it later on to prospective buyers, it is only an asset! Your challenge is to come up with that one name to funnel visitors through.

Brandmeisters today seem to understand the significance of site names, especially since the emergence of a number of me-too sites. Like a Washington Post reporter put it – “feature for feature, service for service, discount for discount, even annoyance for annoyance”, a number of sites may turn out to be a close match to yours. Quoting Rebecca Saunders, author of the Big Shot series, “Names have to sound fresh and new even if the site duplicates one already on the net. Names should stir the imagination or otherwise gain the surfer’s attention. Further site name should be as simple as possible, they should be believable, and they should be easy to pronounce, pleasing to the ear, easy to spell and therefore easy to look up on a search engine.” Here’s more on building your handle.

The ‘aha’ name

Domain name consultants will serve you innumerable dos and don’ts on internet domain naming – a feat that could leave you grumbling with limited choices. Personally, your domain naming methodology need not be absolutely conventional, as long as your imagination is not slave to impractical logic and common sense.

Begin with a paper, pencil and loads of patience. Consider seeking the advice of kith and kin, while you scramble ideas in your brain. Follow closely on what you ought to and ought not to consider. For example, consider characteristics, features, advantages and possibly anything that relates to your products and services. Now try to come up with a domain name that either addresses that one fundamental concept of the site, or that weds two or more key concepts in a single name. All the while, keep in mind, your site’s goals, the image you wish to portray and your target audience. Don’t compromise on your image-how you want your company to be perceived and it’s relation to your core business memorability. Jot down your list of ideas. Then narrow it down to those names you think are most reflective of your products/services. Most importantly, determine if the domain name you like is available and that it doesn’t violate any existing trademarks or copyrights. The last thing you’d want is your hard thought idea of that domain name accidentally offending a fellow netizen. Make sure that it doesn’t mean something entirely different in another language and that you don’t spare chance for the public to associate anything negative with it (easier said than done!). Care for the ins and outs of classic and non classic approaches in domain naming? Read on.

Unless you are a domain name squatter or a start-up capitalizing on domain names - save those tongue-twisters, masqueraded phrases and unpronounceable names.

Your creativity levels, thought and effort should be directed towards one that’s short and sweet. Though, a long name, embedded with your major keywords, can get your site a high search engine ranking, there is no reason you should take advantage of the 67 character limit provided for domain names. Besides, you are too late now. The record of the longest domain name has been set by a Welsh village, with its registration of llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.com.

Concentrate on your visitors comfort levels. Leave them no scope for confusion and no loophole to err. Give them a name they can easily guess (without having to quip over the spelling and the location of hyphens) and hopefully, they’ll reciprocate with more clicks.

You could always rely on those prefixes (e, i, net, web, the, my) and suffixes (world, business, company, store). The power of vowels unleashed, you’d generate a potential brand name. E.g. ebay.com, ivillage.com, pcworld.com, smallbusiness.com

Lucky the business if it’s creator has that perfect proper noun to lend his site a name. Atkins.com named after Dr. Atkins and Dell.com after its founder and CEO Michael Dell. A traditional business moving online could capitalize on it’s established brand name. Even acronyms could yield quick domain names. Microsoft is an acronym for MICROcomputer SOFTware and so is Yahoo for Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.

Targeting search engine rankings – e.g. Yahoo that follows alphabetic classification of websites – consider site names beginning with the digit 1 or the letter ‘a’. Jeff Bezos, the creator of Amazon.com, cites this as one of his reasons for the name’s choice.

But for those of you driven by the age old myth – that search engines have a liking for words that are separated by dashes- wake up! Today, when search engines focus on the site content, hyphenated names have no influence. Domain names with or without hyphens is in itself a topic for a forum. A good idea is to register both options if possible and redirect visitors to one site. Walmart.com never let go off it’s original registration (wal-mart.com), even after it changed name. Now both names take you to the same site.

Think of it on a broader angle. A few dollars spend to secure all possible variants of your name (with alternate extensions) will secure your visitors, otherwise likely to contribute to competitor site traffic. More - register possible names your visitors are likely to associate to your domain. The retailer Buy.com registered the domains: "10percentoffamazon.com," "10percentoffreel.com," and "10percentoffegghead.com”. Proctor & Gamble is an extreme case of this blanket approach. It registered hundreds of generic domain names relating to all aspects of personal hygiene and healthcare: pimples.com, badbreath.com, underarm.com, diarrhea.com etc. They advertise only one, but use the others to bring traffic, and point all the domain names to one site.

Though generic names can’t be trademarked, are sources of controversy and usually unavailable (if not, costly), your prospective domain name could sound of the genre of women.com, Hotels.com, Furniture.com, Art.com and shoes.com. Nonetheless, the loss of uniqueness in generic names is a serious reason for their unpopularity among namers. Now guess why Amazon was’nt named book.com and ebay not auction.com.

So, if the dictionary lets you down, do not fret to think of words that are arbitrary, previously unheard of and totally unrelated. Yahoo, Google and BlueTooth.com don’t owe their origins to the thesaurus. Sometimes it pays to be whimsy!

allthegoodnamesaretaken.com

In just around 2 years, the number of website names registered has grown from 200 to a voluminous 125,000 per month. And as yet, already over 1.6 million domains have been registered, including the subtitle above! Chances of you finding a 3 character .com domain name unregistered (not on sale!), are thin… very thin.

Here’s the good news. Everyday, around 20,000 domain names expire and get deleted. In addition to the generic domain extensions such as .com, .net, etc. there are approximately 250 different international domains each with their own two-letter country code extension. Speculations of new TLD (Top Level Domain) names include .firm, .store, .arts, .info, .nom, .biz, .pro, .aero, .coop, .museum and .name.

So, don't settle for the first domain name you think of! Although the supply of domain names is diminishing daily, it's better to expend more thought at the beginning and save money later. Don’t let the gold rush skate your decision (and later leave you to regret over an unmarketable name). Then again, don’t sit just hatching ideas. Even as you read this, someone halfway across the globe might be beating you to your choice!

Some are just registered by entrepreneurial opportunists hoping to make a fast buck by selling it on. If your choice is taken, the easiest, cheapest and most reliable solution would be to register another name. Did you know that the auction site eBay.com was the second choice of it’s creator after his initial pick EchoBay.com was taken? A good name is a legal name!

Nonetheless, if you own a successful site, that just can’t do without that colonized ideal name, you better ensure your pockets are deep because the owner at the other end knows that there’s nothing quite like the commercial value of a domain name. The highest publicly known sale of domain name was the sale of Business.com for $7,500,000 to eCompanies, a business incubator.

Domain names have been turned into a marketing bargain with its parking capability. A business can register or buy a name for later use. And there are sites that do nothing but park potential names mostly sold for fire-sale prices later on! A Belgian doctor, Dr. Lieven P. Van Neste owns well over 200,000 domain names. It’s a fine pursuit, if you care to keep your distance from brand infringement. In the past, speculators have faced legal charges on trademark violations from the bigwigs (including Microsoft) for having registered microsoftwindows.com, microsoftoffice.com, AirborneExpress.com, CitibankMasterCard.com, HewlettPackardss.com, and Wall-Mart.com. Domain name conflicts that grabbed headlines - Yahoo vs. "yahooka.com" (a marijuana site), Nissan Motors vs. Nissan Computer Corporation. One that caught my personal appeal - Archie Comics company’s trademark driven domain dispute with Veronica.org, a website set up by a loving dad in honor of his 2-year-old daughter Veronica!

From McDonalds to MTV, a lot of press on online brand infringement ( the hijack of popular brand names) has filled the air. Even as I write this, Google Inc. is being challenged the right to use the name "Froogle" for its online shopping service (a New York based carpenter owns Froogles.com - web shopping site).


Each year, about 250,000 cases are decided by the US federal courts. If you have no time to sort it out the good old fashion, you should consider devising a strategic approach for domain naming, reflected in sound corporate policy and executed with effective management. Toady it’s a topic of senior boardroom meetings where competent professionals are assigned to conduct name searches (a less costly venture compared to the possible consequences of dealing with a complaint of infringement.) Take lessons from corporate folklore on the long term effects of a carelessly chosen domain name. People who learnt things the hard way include Art-U-Frame.com that paid $450,000 to acquire the name art.com.

The crux

Your domain name is more than a ubiquity. You have no other billboard or bypass to your site. Statistics prove that direct navigation or guessed URLs account for majority of the traffic to a site (64.43%), much more than the search engines can bring (35.55%). Eat, drink and sleep on your idea before you move to register that killer name. Don’t hassle, thinking there are nodomainnamesleft.com (that’s taken too!). Your share of homework should save you a lot of misery down the road.

Besides, if you can’t trademark your design scheme, product idea and marketing strategy, here’s something you can. Your domain name is perhaps the only thing that you can own on the Internet. Remember, there’s always more to a name than just the name itself! Happy naming!


Reprinted from Zongoo.com Daily Press & Consumer Information"
Posted by admin on Saturday, August 21 @ 10:37:12 EDT (787 reads)


Featured Articles: Website Promotion - The stakes are rising – and so is the cost.
Internet Article By Tony Cooper

What we are seeing at the moment is a landshift change in promotion techniques. Only a year or so ago it was thought enough for a search engine optimisation company to optimise the pages (on page optimisation) and submit the website.

However now that the competition is becoming ever fiercer off page optimisation is becoming a necessary requirement of any respectable website promotion campaign.

Let’s examine these two terms and see what we mean my “on page optimisation” and “off page optimisation”.

On page optimisation is the process of tuning the page for a search engine or more usually trying to make it rank highly on a selection of search engines. It’s no wonder that many search engine optimisation engineers focus on google exclusively as it certainly produces the most traffic of all engines, but will that always be the case? Things can change quickly in internet land.

Page optimisation strategies generally consist of using your keyword or keyword phrases in all of the pages known “hotspots”. The page title, meta keyword, meta description, alt tags, first heading and the body text. Subsequent “tweaks” can include bolding the keyword phrase, using the keyword phrase in a hyperlink and more.

To a point there is only so much that you can do to search engineer a page before it starts to look spammy, repeating the keyword phrase over and over. Of course some “optimisers” still do this but it’s quickly becoming a frowned upon practice as it detracts sharply from a website wanting to produce a professional image, not to mention your chances of being banned from the search engine altogether.

This is where “off page optimisation” takes over.

Both Google and Yahoo use a system of “ranking” websites dependent on several factors - one of which is how relevant the content appears to be to the keyphrase searched for (on page optimisation).

The second important criteria that your pages are judged on is how “popular” those pages are in comparison with your competition. Broken down into it’s basest form it means that the more quality votes (links) that your page has then the more popular it must be and so is promoted higher up the search engine results.

In google parlance this feature is known as “pagerank” and pagerank is a vitally important part of your website promotion campaign. If you don’t have any then you are standing naked in front of everybody and that’s not a nice feeling!

Google pagerank is based on a scale of 1-10 where 10 has the most influence. The algorithm is configured on a sliding scale so that you only ever gain pagerank as a percentage of the full amount. As those with the highest pagerank are constantly adding more “votes” for their pages it makes sense that those at the bottom end of the scale are going to have to work ever harder to play “catch up” and that is where the extra cost is being factored in to website promotion campaigns.

However it becomes more complicated.

Not all links are equal.

Blindly rushing off and trying to get as many links as possible is not going to help you much. In fact it’s one of the reasons why people are spending so much time and effort in their link exchange campaigns and finding they are getting nowhere.

Savvy online marketers have established that links from pages with a low pagerank are not as valuable as links from those with a higher pagerank. But also in paradox to this it is possible to get more value from linking to a page with lower pagerank than the higher one!

Confused! No wonder “off page optimisation” is becoming such a sought after area of expertise.

The paradox occurs because built into the pagerank algorithm is a method of transferring the amount of pagerank “boost” a page gets by dividing up the total pagerank of a page by the number of links present. So a high pagerank page with 100 links on it is not going to give as much “voting power” as a low pagerank page with only one or two links on it.

Trying to make sense of this is at the heart of any “off page optimisation” campaign. Sifting through links, setting up reciprocal link campaigns (the site you link to links back to you) getting links from directories and so on is a time consuming task, even when using some of the more advanced tools that take a lot of the manual drudgery out of the job.

Link exchanges are springing up all over the place offering to bring together people willing to exchange links and the humble text link is becoming one of the most valuable pieces of internet property. Costs for placing text links on higher ranked sites are escalating and it’s becoming ever more important to network closely with other sites offering useful services to your visitors.

Throwing up a links page and asking all and sundry to link to it is not going to work – all that’s going to do is give you an administrative headache and make your visitors wonder if they are making the right choice. Choosing quality link partners is a time consuming and therefore expensive business.

What this all means is that the cost of website promotion is constantly going up. And those companies with well networked sites and strategically placed links are in a much better position to help their customers than those who rely solely on pay per click campaigns and other expensive forms of advertising.

A website promotion campaign is still the best value for money form of advertising that there is in my opinion, it’s just that the costs are rising and will continue to rise. But the rewards for those that get it right are greater in comparison.

To sum up, search engine optimisation is becoming a more and more labour intensive exercise. There are more pages to be made search engine friendly and to gain top spots each page has to be tuned for a particular search engine. Gone are the days of “one size fits all”.

In addition there is a large amount of work involved in linking strategies and building the “popularity” of a website so that it has a chance of making it into the top 10 results.

It’s this combination of work required that is forcing up the costs of a search engine optimisation campaign.

Tony Cooper is internet marketing manager for:

http://www.keywordmarketing.com

Building results driven websites.


Reprinted from Zongoo.com Daily Press & Consumer Information"
Posted by admin on Saturday, August 21 @ 10:24:19 EDT (684 reads)


Featured Articles: Relay For Life - Winder Barrow - Video Memories
Internet Article We hope to have Video Memories available by May 16th for the Relay for Life event that took place in the Winder Barrow High School this year. Go to http://www.athensguy.com/rfl for more details.
Posted by admin on Saturday, May 08 @ 09:44:40 EDT (1045 reads)


Featured Articles: Usability Issues : 5 Factors to influence your web site design
Internet Article Usability Issues

By Aran Kay

Do you know the differences between writing copy for the web and writing copy for print?

Some of the answers will go against your intuition and against cultural norms. But, these facts detail how people read on the web.

There's no use in arguing against them.

Instead we should embrace them and use this knowledge to our advantage. Here's what the facts are and how they're going to affect your website.

1) Where Do Eyes Go First When Your Homepage Comes Up?
Contrary to what you might think, it isn't towards the graphics or photos like in print advertising. Instead your prospects eyes will first go to the copy. Specifically your headline and sub-heads. Therefore, your first chance to engage the prospect is through copy. Not graphics.

Seeing as most web users look at a web page for only 3-15 seconds before deciding whether to stay or move on. The fact that they look at copy first has massive implications for your website. Fancy graphics won't make a prospect stay on your website. But a really strong headline and strong sub-heads will.

2) How Much Of Your Copy Do Users Actually Read?
The fact is that online users, on average, read 75% of the length of any given page. This is big news because most web pages will have the important conclusions, calls to action, and order information on the bottom 25% of any given page. That's a big no-no. Because it will never get read.

You have to have your call to action and order information presented early on your web page to ensure it gets read.

3) Why Do Most Banner Ads Produce Poor Click-Through Rates?
1.25 seconds. That's how long an average user will look at your banner ad. That's just enough time to perceive one image or 6 words (based on college student's average reading speed of 350 words/minute).

Therefore, banner ads that have animation, taking 4-5 seconds to run through a cycle, or more than 6 words must be reconsidered. However, if you really must keep your animated banner ad because "it just looks so cool!" I would suggest that you at least keep your company logo visible throughout the entire animation sequence.

4) Why Is Reading Online More Frustrating Than Reading Print?
Turns out that reading from a computer screen causes a person's reading speed to slow by 25% when compared to reading print. That means reading long copy can be very frustrating online. Break up the copy to help users through.

Have a few one line paragraphs.

Use headlines and sub-heads to summarize information. So users who are tired of reading word-by-word can quickly scan the rest of your document.

5) Are Your Web Page Users Not Getting The Whole Picture?
If you haven't made your web page truly scannable, prospects to your site may only be getting part of the sales message. Only 21% of online users read word-by-word. The other 79% scan a web page headline to headline. Sub-head to sub-head. Picking up only the larger, bolded or italicized copy.

Your sales message has to be read both by scanners and word-by-word readers. Therefore all your major selling points, benefits, call to action and order info must be in easily scannable type.

Otherwise your website will only generate 21% of the sales it could be. And for the money you put into your website, that's not good enough.

So, if online reading is so different from offline reading. Clearly your web copy has to follow suit. Take home message? Make sure your website is performing on all cylinders. Have a professional web writer write your website. It will save you money in the long run.
 

Copyright © 2002 Aran Kay, All Rights Reserved.

Author Information:
Aran Kay
copywriting@professionalcopy.ca
http://www.ProfessionalCopy.ca

Aran Kay is a marketing consultant and freelance copywriter with experience working for Nintendo, Direct Energy, Kellogg's and more. He has written numerous marketing articles and includes a selection of them on his web site. www.ProfessionalCopy.ca is also your source for "The 52 Best Marketing Web Sites." It's a great resource and yours FREE just for visiting his web site.


Posted by admin on Tuesday, March 16 @ 15:15:32 EST (568 reads)


Featured Articles: Use free sticky content to keep your web site visitors returning
Internet Article Use free sticky content to keep your web site visitors returning
Using information and content to retain your visitors

If your website visitors are like me, they may visit your site. They may read your sales letter. They may check out some of your links. They may even sign your guestbook. But... if that's all you have to offer, don't expect them to come back again!

Why?

It's simple. There's no reason to return. I've seen it all, right? Been there, done that!

'Nuff said.

But... if you want them to return, give them a reason to come back.

One great reason to come back is great information!

I'm not talking about just posting anything you can come up with that is free on your site. It has to be targeted information. Information that applies to your audience, your market. If you can provide this and do it on a consistent basis . . .

... they'll keep coming back again and again for more.

Your visitors will read the free articles and they'll return on a regular basis to see what's new.

Nothing new? They may not be back for awhile.

That's why consistency is so important.

What do I recommend?

I try to add something new at least once a week.

Seems hard?

Not really.

New "article libraries" are springing up all over the internet. Smart marketers have found a great way to promote their products, services, and their websites--all by offering free information for reprint.

The concept is simple really. There's a huge market out there. Think about it, there are 1000s of ezines that need new material on a continual basis. There are newsletters (ezines) and also websites with article libraries that want new content for their readers. So, if you have any writing ability at all, you can get free publicity by occasionally contributing free articles for reprint. These articles are then reprinted all over the internet with links to your website and a free ad (called a resource box) at the bottom of each article telling about you and about your products, services, and/or website.

And by visiting these article library sites that offer free articles for reprint and copying the free articles into your newsletter or onto your website, you can continually offer a fresh supply of new material to your website visitors or to your newsletter readers.

One great source is: http://www.ezinearticles.com/

Sure, the articles are targeted for use by ezines. But, if you read their "terms of use policy" closely, you'll find that the articles can be reprinted on your website as well. And besides, the authors of the free articles are wanting exactly what you're willing to offer: a link to their website and MORE TRAFFIC!

Ezinearticles.com's terms of use policy states: "You have permission, from the authors of these articles, to reprint them in their entirety. You must include the resource box at the end of each article. The resource box is the text at the end of the article that contains the author's contact information and copyright notice. The authors retain the copyright to their articles."

And this policy is posted right on the first (home) page of the ezinearticles.com website.

And there are other great sources of free article content for your website as well, such as:

http://www.writebusiness.com/
http://www.web-source.net/article-announce
http://www.infobot.net/list.shtml

So there you have it. Find some great information (articles) and add them to your website or use them in your ezine! And watch the traffic increase!

Copyright © 2000 Ron Knowlton, All Rights Reserved.

Author Information:
Ron Knowlton


Posted by admin on Tuesday, March 16 @ 15:10:26 EST (540 reads)



Featured Articles: How to build an online community
Internet Article How to build an online community
Practical inspirations and ideas for building your website community

Ever wonder why magazines and newspapers always feature letters to the editor? Have you noticed most radio stations air phone calls from listeners? And what about those person-on-the-street interviews that TV news programs like to feature?

These are the ways smart media organizations create the community their customers crave. Here’s how it works.

People are social creatures. Few of us like being alone for long. We prefer to work and learn in groups. We like to know there are plenty of other people who are a lot like us, people who are doing the same things we are.

When companies create a community of like-minded customers for people to be a part of, lots of people respond. This can be particularly important if your goal is to keep new prospects interested and current customers coming back. Creating your own community is critically important during slow economic times when every customer counts.

Here are five cheap and easy ways you can create your own online community right away!

1. Start your own discussion board. A few years ago, you had to be a computer programmer to do this, but today anyone can create their own online discussion. You can personalize the look of your board as well as put your logo at the top. This makes the discussion look like a regular part of your web site.

Expect the discussion to start off slow. Line up several experts to launch conversations and provide follow-up answers. These can be experts outside your company, but it is usually more reliable to have experts from inside your organization. Using your in-house experts can help emphasize how your staff has the ability and desire to solve problems for customers. If you want to create the image of expertise, your discussion board is a great way to do it.

2. Create a simple question and answer page. This can be even simpler than the discussion board. When a customer calls or emails you a question, include the question and your answer on a web page. Success won’t depend on customers sending questions frequently. The answer page on DrNunley.com has been building slowly for years. Today you can browse page after page for answers to hundreds of questions.

Prospects and customers often ask similar questions. Your Q&A page not only gives people the answers they may be looking for, but it lets them know they aren’t alone. Others have the same needs and questions they do.

3. Schedule online events. These can be online chats or streaming audio broadcasts. There are a number of services that provide free chat rooms. Live365.com will let you do free audio streaming.

The event can be a guest expert answering questions, an interview with a popular author, or even a meeting of your distributors or franchisees. Be sure to announce your online event well ahead of time. Give it plenty of promotion. Mention it often in your newsletter, on your site, even in your advertising.

4. Start an email discussion. Email is by far the most popular feature of the Internet. Some experts believe the big increase in people using the Net has been caused by the massive number of people who use email several times each day.

You can harness the power of email to build your online community. An email discussion is simply a system that shares email messages between everyone in the group. Messages can flow freely or be edited, approved, or rejected by a moderator in your organization.

It only takes a few minutes to get your email discussion going. Yahoo Groups and Topica.com provide excellent and reliable free services.

5. This final idea is extremely simple, but very powerful. Post good comments from customers. Customers often aren’t sure what kind of results to expect from your product or service. Expectations of "good results" can vary widely.

By posting customer success stories, you can help other customers understand what to expect and what is possible. This goes a long way toward building customer confidence and better understanding of your product or service.

Online community is becoming more and more important as the Web matures. People increasingly get online to check with a few communities they belong to. Make sure you have a community available for your customers and prospects.


Copyright © 2000 Ron Sathoff and Kevin Nunley, All Rights Reserved.

Author Information:
Ron Sathoff and Kevin Nunley

Ron Sathoff and Kevin Nunley provide marketing advice, business writing, and promotion packages. Join their promotion discussion going on now at http://InternetWriters.com Reach them at service@InternetWriters.com or 801-328-9006.


Posted by admin on Tuesday, March 16 @ 15:09:05 EST (518 reads)


Featured Articles: Community Tips
Internet Article Community Tips
The pros and cons of adding a forum to your website
By David Callan

Before going into the pros and cons of having a forum on a site, lets first explain what forums are,most of you are familiarize with them but might not have heard the term 'forum' before. Well forums are just another name for discussion boards,message board and other names. They enable users of a website to interact with each other by exchanging tips and discussing hot topics related to a websites theme.

Forums saves information posted on a particulare topic for other people to see, at any time. This creates a discussion environment. Everything that gets posted gets read again and again. The fact that the 'discussion' isn't time-sensitive means that it rarely heats up into heated arguments and often has high-quality discussion. It gives people time to research and/or consider their comments.

It also means you can create a robust community even with lower traffic volumes, since people can return to the site weekly and 'catch up' on what's happened since then.

Well you see above that we have touched on the pros of forum building or community building, but lets going into these and other pros or advantages a bit more as well a discussing some cons.

Forums have five main benefits to a webmaster which include:

* Getting educational information on your site
* Increased traffic and repeat visitors
* Capture email address and details of posters
* Gain more creditability
* Help you to build relationship with visitors.

Having a medium traffic forum on a website will increase the value of it, as members of forums are very knowledgeable about the topic at hand, and they will usually try to show this in their post creating a lot of information and tips which visitors to your site can use.

With lots of information and discussion being exchanged in your forums visitors will return again and again, to see replies to their posts, read others posts, basically to see if anything has changed. This creates a sticky website, which is what every webmaster wants, as new members join your forum your traffic gradually grows week after week.

In most forums, people who want to post have to register by giving their email address and names, this allows you to follow up, and email them in the future with information about your product or service. They won't consider it as spam because they know who you are.

Forums allow you to gain creditability with your websites visitors as you can reply to posts that are looking for help and by doing this you are letting everyone know that you are an expert on the topic of your website. They are much more likely to buy from you if you know what you are talking about!

Building relationships with your visitors is easy with forums, if you post regularly and actively discuss different topics with your forum members then gradually you will get to know them, and more importantly they will get to know you. People are much more likely to buy a product or service when someone they know has recommended it.

On to the downside of having a forum, i.e. - the cons, creating successful forums is not by any sense of the word easy, they involve a tremendous amount of work to get them started. Nobody likes to post on any empty forum so you have to actively promote it and create lots of topics for discussion yourself, if these topics are interesting then you should so a few posts but you have to do this on a continuos basis for months, sometimes weeks, but mostly months.

That's only to get people talking, next you have to administer it or moderate it as it is usually called. This means making sure posts are appropriate and that members are not spamming your forum (not using just to advertise their website and product, without actually discussing anything). This has to be done on a daily basis and if your forum gets busy it's going to be very time consuming. Once again the main con or disadvantage with forums is the amount of time and effort required to get it started and maintain it.

However don't let that put you off the idea, forums are great for increasing your traffic and increasing the profits you make on your website.

After the initial time involved to start it up and get people to talk, you will start to see the benefits that your forum is bringing, and the time needed to maintain it will seem less and less each time you see you traffic and profits going up.
 

Copyright © 2002 David Callan, All Rights Reserved.

Author Information:
David Callan
admin@akamarketing.com
http://www.akamarketing.com

David is the webmaster of http://www.akamarketing.com. Visit his site for free internet marketing articles, advice, ebooks, news and lots more.


Posted by admin on Tuesday, March 16 @ 15:08:07 EST (668 reads)


Featured Articles: What do People Want Online?
Internet Article
It’s not what you think it is.
By: Jay Conrad Levinson

What people want online is a question guerrillas ask themselves a lot. Whether it’s for fun or work or something else, understanding a consumer’s motives once he or she logs on is a necessity. But the experts don’t seem to agree on what people want.

Some folks see the web as a vast, new field for advertising messages, assuming that while people may want to do something else, if we can entice them with flash, we can sort of trick them into paying attention to our products and services.

Guess what. That’s not gonna happen.

Other folks seem to subscribe to the notion that people online are looking for entertainment on the Internet, and therefore they construct messages aimed at persuading while playing. And, in other cases, the time-honored direct-response model wins out:

Grab people when you can, get ‘em to take an action, and then market, market, market. The answer may be that the consumer has and wants a lot more control than we give him/her credit for.

Today, webmeisters are in control. Sort of. In a perfect cyberworld, people will be in control. Sort of.

Two recent studies shed light upon this dilemma. One was conducted by Zatso. The other was conducted by the Pew Research Center. Zatso and Pew. (Those guys didn’t spend much time reading “how-to-name-your-company” books, I guess.) Still, both of their studies illuminated the answer as to what people want to do online.

The answer, as most answers, is very utilitarian: People want to accomplish something online. They’re not aimless surfers hoping to discover a cybertreasure. Instead, the average Net user turns out to be a goal-oriented person interested in finding information and communicating with others—in doing something he or she set out to do.

Look at the Zatso study. “A View of the 21st Century News Consumer” looked at people’s news reading habits on the web. It revealed that reading and getting news was the most popular online activity after email. The guerrilla thinks, “That means email is number one. How might I capitalize on that?”

One out of three respondents reported that they read news online every day, with their interests expanding geographically—local news was of the most interest, U.S. news the least.

Personalization was seen as a benefit, too. Seventy-five percent of respondents said that they wanted news on demand and nearly two out of three wanted personalized news. The subjects surveyed liked the idea that they, not some media outlet, controlled the news they saw. They feel they’re better equipped to select what they want to see than a professional editor. Again, control seems to be the issue. Again, guerrillas think of ways to market by putting the prospect in control.

The Pew Research Center study revealed that regular net users were more connected with their friends and family than those who didn’t use the Internet on a regular basis.

Almost two-thirds of the 3,500 respondents said they felt that email brought them closer to family and friends—significant when combined with the fact that 91% of them used email on a regular basis. That’s 91%. It took VCRs 25 years to achieve such market penetration.

What did people in this study seem to be doing online when they weren’t doing email? Half were going online regularly to purchase products and services, and nearly 75 percent were going online to search for information about their hobbies or purchases they were planning to make. Sixty-four percent of respondents visited travel sites, and 62 percent visited weather-related sites. Over half did educational research, and 54 percent were hunting for data about health and medicine.

A surprising 47 percent regularly visited government web sites, and 38 percent researched job opportunities. Instant messaging was used by 45 percent of these users, and a third of them played games online. Even with all the hype in the media, only 12 percent said they traded stocks online.

What does this mean to e-marketers? It means that if you’re constructing a site for goal-oriented consumers, you’d better make sure you can help facilitate their seeking. Rather than focus on entertainment, flash, and useless splash screens, the most effective sites are those that help people get the information they want when they need it. Straightforward data, information that invites comparison, and straight talk are going to win the day.

A client buddy of mine showed me his website which heralds his retail location and attempts to sell nothing online. He said it has been the biggest moneymaker in the history of his 35-year-old company. Then he apologized for its lack of glitter and special effects. He asked how his site could be so successful even though it lacked anything to add razzmatazz and dipsydazzle.

Now, you know the answer.

Author Information:
Jay Conrad Levinson is probably the most respected marketer in the world. He is the inventor of “Guerrilla Marketing” and is responsible for some of the most outrageous marketing campaigns in history—including the “Marlboro Man”—the most successful ad campaign in history. In his latest book, “Put Your Internet Marketing on Steroids” Jay reveals how you can use marketing steroids legally to make your business insanely profitable.  



Posted by admin on Tuesday, March 16 @ 14:45:20 EST (772 reads)


Featured Articles: Copyright Your Content
Internet Article
Copyright Your Content
Things you may like to know about copyrights

You may be under the false impression that before you can get your text published, you must “get the copyright” to your own written material. You might also think that in order to get the copyright, you must “apply” for it. This is just not so. In the following few paragraphs, I’ll give you some simple facts about copyrights that may help you in your quest to get published. 

First, it is important to understand that you cannot “copyright” an idea; you can only copyright what you have written. That is, you might have just written the greatest self-help manual on how to breed guppies. And you did, indeed, file for your copyright with the Library of Congress. Three weeks after completing the formal copyrighting process, you find out that the manager of your neighborhood pet store (where you’ve been buying your guppies) has just sold the TV rights to a new hit show “Breeding Guppies” and he is using many of the same principles that you’ve outlined in your manual on how to go about guppy breeding.

So, naturally, since this is the 21st Century and you live in America, you want to sue the guy. You think you have a sure thing, and you are dreaming of the million-dollar award that the jury is sure to give you. But…you’d better not put a down payment on that Guppy Farm in Iowa just yet.

The manual you wrote, the exact words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters that you wrote, belong to you. It is illegal for anyone to reproduce or use any of that text, in part or in whole, for profit without your permission. However, you must be able to prove that your exact words have been stolen before you can get an award for copyright infringement. So, you know that guy with his hit TV series? Well, unless he’s reading from your manual word-for-word, or attempting to sell your manual as a supplemental text that he’s written, then he’s probably doing nothing illegal. He’s just using the idea of breeding guppies.

You do “own” the copyright to your text, all its words and clever phrases. And you don’t even have to file with the Library of Congress in order to have the copyright on your text. The copyright is conferred upon you the minute you write your New York Times Bestseller. All you have to do is be able to prove, beyond any doubt, the date that you wrote the material. For your protection, then, it is wise to print and date your material, and establish with a third party through a written communication that you have just finished your text. At that time, you can legally affix the copyright symbol (the letter c inside a circle) to your work.

Now here’s where a formal copyright comes in. By filing with the Library of Congress (and paying them their required application fee), you can establish definitively a date of copyright that will stand up in any court of law. Any judge or jury will defer to your date over someone else who can merely claim by word of mouth that his text came before yours. It’s a good idea to formally copyright any text that you are planning to market. So, if you’re convinced that the world population-at-large is in desperate need of “Breeding Guppies, What Every Ichthyologist Needs to Know” and you plan to sell it on Ebay for $19.95, you should apply for a formal copyright.

Just having the copyright, however, doesn’t mean that other people can’t quote your work. They may do so, as long as you are given full credit for having written it prior to their use. This is called a “reference” or a “citation” and generally, whatever passage is being quoted will appear offset in quotation marks (so that the reader can visualize which words belong to someone other than the author of the text in which the quote appears). Of course, at present the contingent of Copyright Police is not up to tracking down every single instance of copyright infringement, and chances are that not everyone cites original authors as scrupulously as they should, so beware of whom you casually let look at or read your text (or to whom you give a copy).

Copyrights are not forever. Typically, a copyright lasts for 50 years past the natural life of the original author. Authors’ heirs may sometimes re-apply for copyrights, but generally written texts that are this old are considered “public domain” and may be reproduced without paying the author’s family a royalty fee.

In the publishing world, you will find that many publications require that you relinquish your copyrights to the work in return for having your work published. This is a fairly standard procedure—unless your name happens to be Stephen King or Danielle Steele. Once you’ve relinquished your copyright to a given work, you can not sell or submit that text again unless you get express approval from the publisher that now owns the copyright.

There are sites on the World Wide Web where you can post your work for others to read or use as they see fit, so-called “free sites.” In cases such as this, there should be a disclaimer that anyone who uses or reproduces your work must give you full credit. Whether this happens all the time is certainly a matter for some speculation, but your safeguard is that you own the copyright and if you find that someone is profiting from your work and that you have not been compensated, you can file a copyright infringement suit against them.

As of the date of this article, the current copyright fee is $30. All the instructions and necessary forms can be found on U.S. Copyright Office’s web site: http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/. I have copyrighted several texts and advise that you mail your application with a “Return Receipt Requested” from the U.S. Post Office. This is your proof that the Copyright Office has received your copyright application.

Author Information:
Jan Kovarik
Jan K., The Proofer
jankproof@aol.com

http://www.janktheproofer.com 

 


Posted by admin on Tuesday, March 16 @ 00:00:00 EST (594 reads)


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