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One home page after another was simply pictures with a brief catalog description and a click-to-order button. They shouted things at me like "Buy From Me Now!" Or worse: "Please Buy From Me."
I poured a cup of coffee, sat down to gaze at mountains to East, and pondered for a bit. Still kind of surprised at way in which I had attacked this task. Puzzled at emotional change that took over completely. I asked myself what is wrong with these sites? What would I do differently were they mine? What could they have done to grab my attention and hold it?
What I Discovered
The pictures did in fact partially answer question, "What's in it for me?" I was looking at greenhouses. But there was nothing that drew me beyond this point. One person boldly commented, "I've been in this business since 1949." How nice. Of no meaning to me at all. (Later, yes, when I want to see who's behind this operation, but never up front.) Another said something like, "We are best." Uh huh. Always a dumb thing to say. Show me, else shush.
I'm sure that several of sites I dashed through have information I want. But it wasn't obvious at time. And it must be immediately and completely obvious. Why? Because I suspect my recent surfing experience is common behavior among many.
If you can get a visitor to finish your headline, you've beat odds significantly. If headline even partially answers question, "What's in this for me?" you are still in game.
However, you will lose your visitor at this point, unless you immediately demonstrate why your visitor should linger. Questions such as "Why should I buy from you?" and "Why should I believe you?" need to be addressed quickly. While it's not possible to answer all such questions in first screen, you best get started and definitively point way to further information that provides complete answers.
The Web is so new, it's difficult to envision what lies ahead. Entire new business models are likely to emerge, concepts we have not yet dreamed of. One thing seems certain, though. The catalog model is here to stay.
However, few catalog sites are going to be successful opening with some pictures, brief descriptions, and an "order now" button.
Another mistake noted on sites visited was what appeared to be a determination to make page look like printed offline catalogs. Pages jammed full of pictures. Brief hard-to-read descriptions. Lots of unexplained jargon.
Offline, this is mandatory. Printing costs mount up. And so do mailing costs. Even cost of paper. Online, there is virtually no cost to adding another page to site. Put links on jargon that pop up a window of explanation. Use space; it's cheap. Include more complete explanations with links to more in depth notes.
While catalog model will thrive on Web, more attractive formats that make it easy to find further information will be winners.
Demonstrate Your Concerns For Your Customers
Saying you're glad a visitor dropped in won't do a bit of good. Showing them it's so will. Show them you value their interest and will go out of your way to provide exactly what they need.
Saying you support your customers in every possible way won't cut it. But showing that it's so does wonders.
Begin demonstrating such essential elements in first screen on your page and reenforce each element throughout site. And whatever else you do, make certain that all neat resources on your site are readily available.
Bob McElwain Want to build a winning site? Improve one you already have? Fix one that's busted? Get ANSWERS. Subscribe to "STAT News" now! mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org Web marketing and consulting since 1993 Site: Phone: 209-742-6349