Make your Website a Profit Center

Why your current site is costing you money and what you can do about it!

By Jeanette S Cates, PhD

Doing business online is a relatively new process. It's only within the past 7 years that businesses have created websites to market and sell their services and products. Naturally, new business models and new processes are constantly evolving. With this rapid change, it's important that you keep up-to-date on the latest methods and models for creating your online success.

Currently there are several types of websites that businesses choose. These include sales sites, information sites, and information sites that sell.

What is an information site?

The traditional business website is an information site. It provides information for the prospect and customer on topics such as:

    • Business location and operating hours
    • Contact information
    • An about us section giving company history and the principals of the business
    • What we sell
    • Why buy from us

    An example of an information site is Susan Luke's speaker site.

What is a sales site?

In its purest form a sales site is a 2-page mini site. It consists of a sales letter and an order form. A mini sales site is perfect for selling one product or service.

Larger sales sites are online stores. They provide a catalog of products. In both large and small sales sites there is little information provided beyond that which will sell the featured products or services.

You've probably seen a lot of sales sites online. As an example, look at the Sales Site QuickStart or Online Success Tactics.

So what is an information site that sells?

This is a combination of the traditional information site with a sales process that offers relevant products for sale - usually within the context of the information provided. For example, if you have an article about how to create a marketing plan, then you'll also include a link to a software product that can help you create the marketing plan. It's not a random item being advertised; instead, it's a product that is relevant to the information page.

Tech4Speakers, TechTamers, and Lifekits are good examples of information sites that sell.

Why is it important to have both sales and information?

First, many businesses are more comfortable having an information site. They want to use their site as a way to provide information for their prospects and clients, and to provide ongoing support for their customers and vendors. So they already have an information site.

Second, if you're in business, you need to make a profit. While you could consider your website an advertising expense, why not make your website a profit center? You can do this by integrating sales opportunities into the site.

Third, if you provide information to your target market, you want to provide quality information in as large a quantity as they need. Some of this information requires an investment on their part - whether through you or another company. If you're referring people to another business, you should get a referral fee (or an affiliate commission, as we call it online.) And if your site visitors are purchasing in-depth information from you, you'll want to have everything in place to take advantage of that opportunity.

What are the elements of an information site that sells?

Naturally, you have a well-constructed website. That will include attractive pages that load quickly, an easy-to-use navigation system, and plenty of relevant information.

Next, you'll want to create or locate products that help fill your clients' needs. These may be digitally-delivered products such as special reports or ebooks. Or they may be physical products that need to be shipped, such as books, audiotapes, and other products. Either way you'll want to be sure that if you refer clients, you receive appropriate credit.

Finally, you'll want to employ an effective online sales process. This involves gathering emails, staying in contact with prospects, accepting orders and payments online, then following up with customers.

Where do I start to create an information site that sells?

There are four stages to developing an effective online business, assuming you already have a business website.

  1. Get Ready to Sell: Chances are your current site needs tune-up. It's not ready to attract heavier traffic or support ecommerce. Plus, you need to establish a more effective online sales process in order to maximize the current opportunities you have.
  2. Build Traffic: Just having a site that's ready to sell is not enough. You need to have plenty of visitors coming to your online business - enough so that you have the desired amount of sales. This is the critical period for a business online.
  3. Build Products: While you can sell offline services and products or you can sell other people's products, your highest return on investment comes from digital products that you produce and distribute. These products literally make money for you whether you're awake or asleep, in town or on vacation.
  4. Expand: When you're satisfied that you have the products you need, that your traffic meets your expectations, and your site is working like you want, it's time to expand. The model you have implemented can be replicated and enhanced, time and again.

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Dr. Jeanette S Cates, PhD, The Technology Tamer™ works with small business owners who want to turn their website into gold! Jeanette offers a coaching program on three levels to help business owners take their site to the next level. She is the author of Online Success Tactics: 101 ways to build your small business.

(c) 2003. Permission is granted to reprint this article on your site or ezine or in a print publication so long as the links remains in tact.

 

 

 

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