According to recent statistics, over 90% of businesses online are losing money. While this is a disturbing trend, it's one that you can easily avoid in your own online business if you know what the problem is and how to correct it. So, what is almost always causing these businesses to lose money?
Failure to Build Their Website Around Its Primary Goal
But what does this mean? It means they won't focus on what they're really trying to sell to you. This is best explained with an example. Let's look at Netscape's website to illustrate this point.
A Bad Example
(This example will point out some things that Netscape is doing wrong with their website. In no way do I mean to imply that Netscape makes a bad product, only that they may need to rethink their website strategy.) Now, what is Netscape's overall goal? To make money, of course.
But that's too broad of a goal for a website. Instead, when determining your primary goal for your website, come up with something specific. For Netscape, their primary goal would probably be something like: "Encourage as many downloads as possible, and as much use as possible, of the Netscape web browser."
But when we visit their website at www.netscape.com, we find a plethora of choices, options, and places to visit, and almost none of them are related to their primary goal. In fact, their website is essentially a portal. The only vague reference to their browser we see is the "download" button found at the top of the page.
This is a classic example of a website built not around a company's primary goal, but a broad, vague goal. And it's no doubt that that's one of the reasons Netscape browsers aren't as widely used as Microsoft's. (Again, this is not a criticism of Netscape's product or a statement of Microsoft's superiority - only some observations about their website.)
A Good Example
While we're still learning much about building and improving our website and our clients' websites (the learning process should never end), we do know that we've done at least one thing right: we've built our site to be focused completely around our primary goal.
What is our primary goal? "Encourage small business owners to do one of the following: request a price quote for web design or marketing, sign up for web hosting, or subscribe to our free e-zine. Should be primarily focused on encouraging visitors to request a web design price quote." Visit our site at www.sybren.net to see how we've accomplished this goal.
How to Build Your Site Around Its Primary Goal
While focusing one's site on your primary goal may be good and well, you have to know how to accomplish such a feat in order for my advice to be effective. So, how do you focus your site?
The first place to start is determining your primary goal. Come up with something specific that your website should accomplish to reach your monetary goals. This primary goal should include your target market, what you want your visitors to do, and possibly how you want to get them to do it. See my primary goal for www.sybren.net for a good example.
Next, you'll want to simply build (or revise) your website with the following in mind throughout the process:
"Does this addition (or change, new theme or design, etc.) help my site accomplish its primary goal? If so, does it also take away from the primary goal in some way? And if it does, is the added value worth the detriment to the primary goal?"
Once you've put every part of your site through this iron-clad filter, your site will be refocused and far more effective than ever before. Good luck!