Buying A Business Web Site That Sells
This article originally appeared in the February 1998 issue of The Business Monthly
Have you ever visited an Internet web site only to be disappointed in its content? You were hoping to get that vital piece of information or maybe just a little entertainment but what you see is a "one-dimensional" presentation. Would you return to this site in the future or purchase products as a result of your visit? For businesses operating a web site, this type of response from visitors can spell death to their web presence.
So, how would a business go one step further in the development of their web presence? First, let us review the minimum requirements of an effective web presence.
The business web site should:
- Convey a marketing theme consistent with other marketing material.
- Provide visitors with a feel for the business' products and services as well as their mission, vision and organization.
- Give visitors ready access to contact information within the company.
- Assist visitors with product/service selection.
- Be professionally constructed and consistent with production standards used in other marketing media.
- Be regularly updated and enhanced.
Going one step further than these basic requirements calls for a combined, creative effort by a business and their web developer. Enhancing a web site's effectiveness can be as simple as letting users download specially designed electronic brochures so that they can print the brochures locally and have them on their computer desktop for future reference. The key action step here is to allow the visitor to take something, however seemingly insignificant, away with them from their visit to your site.
To be frank, some products can be so specialized that there is a high probability that their corresponding web presence will be fairly dry. Professional graphics combined with judicious use of animation can spice up a site a little, but a further step can be taken. A brainstorming session between the web developer and the business can often produce ideas that would draw a visitor into the web site and its contents and ultimately lead to sales.
Numerous questions can be asked to aid in brainstorming. Are there any existing software tools or design guidelines available that visitors can use online? How about success stories from satisfied users that can touch a visitor's emotional response? Is the business willing to use promotional discounts or send product samplers to visitors who register with the web site? How can the business draw users in such that additional information such as phone numbers and addresses of prospective clients can be obtained?
A good example of the above can be found at servolink.com. Serv-O-Link, Corp. has been producing precision plastic gears used in a number of industrial products since 1959. Their advertising fees for conventional marketing media such as trade journals became very expensive. In November 1997, they decided to start an Internet web presence for the company that would revitalize their marketing strategy.
Serv-O-Link Corp. also had a software package they had developed in the 1980's to aid designers in selecting the proper gears for their designs and to help determine such things as gear life approximations and other specific design information. So, once the basic, required components of the web site were completed, Serv-O-Link's software package was re-written to run interactively over the Internet. Instead of sending out marketing material, including floppy-disk copies of the software, visitors can now use the software over the Internet and also get full access to product specifications and prices. In their first full month on-line, Serv-O-Link experienced over 1,800 hits and enough sales due to their web presence to cover the development costs of their site!
What about other examples of effective enhancements to an Internet presence? Well, the number and types of enhancements are only limited by the creativity and expertise of the web designer and their business clients. As with all business decisions, the time and thought you put into your Internet web presence and the capability of the web designer and host can turn a rarely visited web site into a site which is book-marked and creates sales.
by Ken Mazur
Executive Vice President, CyberVillage Networkers, Inc.