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There Are a Few Mandatory Components of a Business Website...If You Want It to Be Successful.  Take Heed!

The components of a business website that lead to happy customers and profitable owners are similar whether you sell information products or physical products.  Learn them, and implement them.  You'll be glad you did.  (The more technical aspects of website or blog production are covered in each of the departments listed at the far left)

Components of a Business Website: Initial Benefit     Components of a Business Website Benefit

The first component of a business website is the presentation of an initial benefit or offer.  Remember tip number one of the Tips for Success: know who you are targeting and who you want your audience to be.  Know the client you are trying to reach.

Then, tailor your website or blog to target them.  Make sure that every person that visits your site knows what the #1 benefit of your site is within 5 seconds of landing on your page.  If you are selling on the page, make the offer up front.  But, make the offer so that it is stated in the form of benefits that the person will receive.  Then back up your offer or stated benefit with proof.

Once you've clearly stated and proved your initial offer, make sure you convey the necessity of your site or product's role.  It must be clear to your visitors that, in order to attain the initial benefits associated with the offer, your website or blog and/or products needs to be a vital part of their plans.

If possible, your website/blog's domain name should serve to either convey the #1 benefit.  It should at least set the context.  Then, the name of your website/blog and the header should do the rest.  The goal is to catch the interest of the visitor so he keeps reading.

You need to catch his attention in about 5 seconds.  You do this with a great benefit or offer.  You then prove it to the visitor.  Then, as he reads, you are able to build trust.  With trust, you are able to further serve his needs as a customer or regular visitor to your site.  Your targeted clientele should notice the benefit.  Others will most likely leave after the initial 5 seconds. 

Make sure your website or blog immediately answers these questions for anyone reading it: Why do you have this website?  What is in it for me if I trust you?  Why should I believe you?  Why should I take action right now?

Components of a Business Website: Sales Strategy     Components of a Business Website Strategy

An initial benefit or offer is essential.  So is proving to your visitor that you aren't full of hot air.  So, then what?

The next component of a business website isn't necessarily seen by the visitors.  But, it is vital to the success of any successful online (or offline) venture.  You must have a planned strategy to generate sales.

Generally, it should have multiple steps.  You should design your website or blog so that it offers visitors the services and products they need when they need it.  This isn't necessarily easy to do.  Marketing Your Website is a job that will last as long as you have a website or blog.

After you present your initial benefit or offer to your targeted client, you prove it.  Then, you continue to serve their informational needs.  As you build trust, you further serve them by presenting various services or products that can meet their specific desires or needs.

It may take multiple purchases for your claims to be verified by your new clients or customers.  So, it is often a good idea to have multiple tiers of products and services that cost different amounts.  Have freebies for the curious.  Then, have introductory products at lower prices.  Have moderately priced products that build on the introductory products.  Then have higher priced, premium products.  Be sure that much value is added at every step along the way.  Be sure that the product or service is worth every cent that the customer pays for it and meets the need for which it was purchased.  As the skeptical customer tests your lower-priced services and products, they should realize the value, trust you more, and upgrade to your more valuable (and higher-priced) offerings as their needs direct.

As part of your sales strategy, you need to learn at least the basics of advertising and copywriting.  Human nature hasn't changed.  To be as successful as you can be, you will need to learn these critical aspects of business, if you haven't already.  One excellent book by a master is How to Write a Good Advertisement by Victor O. Schwab.  Buy it.  Read it.  Serve and sell to more people.

Finally, be absolutely sure that it is easy for people to pay you and get what they paid for as quickly as possible.  Give easy-to-follow instructions at every step of the way.  For example, make sure that your online credit card payment pages specifiy that the card number is to be entered without spaces if that is how your software is set up.  Or, better yet, only allow the exact number of digits to be entered in the first place.

Explain why any necessary information is necessary.  Put the new customer or client's mind at ease by streamlining the process for them.  Make sure spend time Testing Your Website to make sure everything is smoothly running and easy to use.

Components of a Business Website: Newsletter     Components of a Business Website Newsletter

Every business website needs a newsletter.  End of story.  Your newsletter should be one of the top items on your website or blog to-do list. 


Failing to start a newsletter early on will be one of your chief regrets later in the life of your website.  If you start your site without a newsletter and then start one later, you'll see the tremendous benefits that you missed while you didn't have one.


Be sure that visitors to your site have an easy way to sign up for a weekly (or at least monthly) mailing list/newsletter.  The reasons are here: Why Start a Newsletter?  Additionally, give visitors to your site a good reason to sign up for the newsletter.  The details of setting up a newsletter are not too complicated.  Click the link to understand How to Start a Newsletter.  Then read Starting a Newsletter for more guidance and information.


There are several different choices: free vs. paid, plain text vs. html, etc.  Read through the above links, and you should be on your way to checking this item off your list.  But, make no mistake: the required components of a business website include a newsletter.

Components of a Business Website: Freebies     Components of a Business Website Freebies

You may not think that freebies are part of a business website.  I've got news for you.  They are.  Type a random keyword into a search engine.  Look through the results and find one that is obviously geared toward being a business website.


Search around the website, and you'll likely quickly find something that is free.  Usually it will be prominently displayed.  It may be a free download of an ebook or manual or special report.  It may be a free newsletter.  The information itself may be completely free like it is on this website.  But, the good business websites out there will give something away.  Free.  To all comers.


Why do they do this, and why should you do it? 


First, it gives you a chance to obtain an email address.  People are conditioned to giving away information that doesn't cost them financially in order to attain something they didn't have previously.  Most people are willing to do this.  They see it as a nothing-for-something transaction.


The truth is that by setting up your website so that the downloadable or viewable freebie is only attainable after entering an email, you gain a very valuable future marketing tool (see the above section and links on newsletters).  You give away something (or multiple things) that people desire in exchange for the ability to email them.  This is a great deal - a voluntary transaction with two satisfied parties.


Second, it allows you to build trust.  People will usually take you up on an offer of a freebie if they are at all interested.  Their perusing your material will make or break their trust in you.  If your freebie is a high quality, high perceived value item, you'll generate a favorable opinion of yourself in their mind.  As trust is central in any relationship, this is a critical factor.  Use your freebies to show your competency and knowledge as you introduce yourself to strangers to you and your website or blog.


Third, after you've taken the opportunity to build trust through the freebies, you have the opportunity to use them to drive return traffic back to your site.  The subsequent times a person comes back to your site are the golden website visits.  You've been able to transform a freebie-loving customer into an information client.  This increased your website traffic.  More importantly, it increases the number of individuals who are ready and excited to use or purchase the premium products and services you provide.  These services are even better suited to meet their needs, provide more value to them, and are profitable.


Profit will often start with voluntary charity.  Help them for free.  Give away introductory freebies.  Build trust.  Then, those that can legitimately benefit from your premium products will want more of your services.  The best business sites will have freebies available to everyone who lands on their page.  Imitate them.  Develop your own freebies as a component of your business website or blog.

Components of a Business Website: Legal Stuff     Components of a Business Website Legal

Remember, most laws still apply to material presented on the internet.  I am going to assume that you know you can't defraud, slander, etc., people on the internet just because it is the internet.  If you do, you'll likely find yourself on the losing end of a lawsuit.


With that said, there are three legal components of a business website with which you need to be familiar.


Any good business website is likely going to collect email addresses or payment for products/services (usually both).  The Federal Trade Commission places requirements on any such website or blog.


First, you are required to have a Privacy statement.  This is not only a courteous thing to provide to your website's visitors, it will also keep you out of hot water with the FTC.


Second, you are required to have a Terms of Use statement.  This is not only a mechanism that helps you avoid losing frivilous lawsuits, but it will also keep you out of hot water with the FTC.


Third, you are required to disclose any material connections you have with any products or services you endorse.  This may or may not be of any direct benefit to you, but it will keep you out of hot water with the FTC.  This requirement was released on October 5, 2009.  Read the guidelines here.  A summary of the release can be read here.  This hasn't been extensively tested yet, and the FTC has the burden of proof.  However, most means of Website Monetization would likely require disclosure of some sort.  


If a website or blog doesn't have a Privacy statement and Terms of Use statement, don't buy from them.  They are demonstrating to you that they do not understand the very basics of running an online business.

Components of a Business Website: Ease of Use     Components of a Business Website Ease

Being easy to use may be an abstract concept.  Nevertheless, it is also one of the necessary components of a business website.  When you desing your website, make sure that it is easy, simple, and as quick as possible for every customer or client to complete a purchase or other transaction.


Be sure you give complete and unambiguous information throughout the entire ordering process.  People are still skeptical of buying things over the internet.  Often, this skepticism is justified.  Help your customers rest easy when purchasing from you.  Give complete information before, during, and following a purchase or other transaction.


State what should be expected of you following transactions.  Explain the delivery process.  Send a confirmation email or email a receipt to the buyer so that they are assured the transaction was completed.  Clearly state whether they are going to be billed instantly or when the order actually ships out (if shipping a product).  Send another email when the order ships out and, if possible, provide them with the tracking number so they can monitor it to their door, if they'd like.  And, by all means, make absolutely sure that the price they were presented is what shows up on their bill or bank/credit card statement.


Additionally, if you are shipping products, make sure you are up-front about your return policy.  Take note of - they even provide their customers with a return label.  This makes returns easy for the customer and difficult to mess up (which helps actually receive their returned products).  You may not print a label for everything you ship, but at least make sure every package you send carries with it a written return policy with instructions.


If you make it hard for people to use your site and purchase your goods and services, you will lose many opportunities to serve people and profit.  Make sure your site is easy to use while you are in the design process of Website Development and during the Testing Your Website phase.

Components of a Business Website: Feedback     Components of a Business Website Feedback

The quickest way to determine that a website or blog is a second-rate publication is the absence of any way to contact the organization responsible for it.  Every business website should have some means provided for people to contact the creators/managers of the website.  There are several reasons for this:


One, people will help you free of charge.  There are still people who will go out of their way to help others.  Many people will send spelling errors, notify you of dead links, and offer good-natured suggestions about how to make your website or blog better.  These can be valuable.  If you don't give your visitors a way to contact you, you miss out on all the free help.  Having a contact option on your website/blog shows that you are concerned about the qualilty of your work.


Two, the questions and comments people send you will often help you tweak your site (or even make radical changes) to best target the group you want to serve.  No website should be static.  Markets are dynamic.  People are dynamic.  Opportunities come and go.  Providing a way to contact you helps those people interested in your chosen niche mold your site so that it best serves them.  Consequently, you will likely see increased profits if you are responsive.


Three, it will meet expectations and build trust.  The vast majority of visitors to your site will never contact you.  But, nearly all of them will expect to be able to if they have a problem.  Seeing a contact option helps to build trust.  When trust is present, people are more likely to buy from you.  And, they are more likely to put word-of-mouth marketing to work for you as they tell their friends.  Or, even better, they may link to you from their website or blog and provide you with a ranking-boosting backlink, which will assist in Getting Website Traffic.  People will rightly conclude that you are solely interested in taking their money (or are just not business savvy) if you offer a way for them to give you money but not a way for them to contact you.


Four, it should fit with your Business Philosophy.  If your business philosophy allows for you to take money from people without giving them the opportunity to talk to you, you need a new one.  You aren't serving and obviously aren't in it to serve anyone but yourself.


The bottom line is this: encourage feedback and welcome contact from visitors to your site.  As you serve your niche, many people may even become avid readers of your website or blog.  This gives you opportunities to direct them to your products or services or other things you believe will truly benefit them.  One email may even generate the one good idea that helps you develop a breakthrough new product.


While you need to have some means for people to give you feedback, you do not need to (and probably should not) allow individuals to have unrestrained feedback opporutinties on your website.  While every site differs, a general rule of thumb is to not allow feedback or comments on the same page an article or blog post is published.


This isn't, of course, an unbreakable rule.  And, sometimes comments on article pages generate much beneficial traffic.  However, allowing the general public to post to your website through comments is going to bring the nitpickers and the vulgarity-spewers out of the woodwork.  When they appear, they are like fleas.  You can't get rid of them easily and their work is very aggrivating.  These folks will steal your time by forcing you to monitor all your articles and delete the vulgar or obscene postings.  This can become a very big time-waster.  So, it isn't generally recommended to give the public the ability to comment on each article page.


Set up a comments section or discussion forum off of the article page where people can go to engage in beneficial discussion.


One way around this problem is to use a Small Business Website Development Software like MemberGate.  The nitpickers and destructive types don't want to pay for anything.  They want to harp for free.  If you have a membership website or use another type of software that only allows those who have paid something to post, your risks go down significantly.  If you have a website or blog of this nature, comments sections or forums can even be the core of your site.  The fee keeps the troublemakers and crazies out and best serves those who pay.

Components of a Business Website: Conclusion     Components of a Business Website Conclusion

The aforementioned are all needed components of a business website.  However, this list shouldn't be considered exhaustive.  Every website or blog will have other needed components based on the specific niche or market that it serves.  Make sure your website or blog includes everything mentioned on this page, but don't stop there.


Always be watching for opportunities.  When adding a new component to your website can increase both your ability to serve your clientele/niche market and improve your financial status, add it!



Copyright © 2009-2010, Issachar Knowledge, LLC: Components of a Business Website


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