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by John Eberhard

The point of a web site and website marketing is that it is an online place where people can easily find out about your organization, but in most cases the goal is for people to respond. We want them to respond and give us their name and contact information, so we can contact them and sell them something, or at least send them repeated communications about our company (and sell them something later on down the road).

So how can we maximize the number of people that respond to our web site? Here are some tips you can use to increase response.

Navigation

You have to make sure your site navigation is set up so visitors can find their way around easily. Most site navigation is set up across the top or in the left hand column.

Over the past couple years it has become more and more common to have a fairly limited number of navigation buttons, with many of them having dropdown menus that pop up when you move the mouse over them. So your main navigation buttons define the categories or sections, and the dropdowns are the choices within those categories. This idea allows you to have one all-inclusive navigational structure that can go on all your pages, so you can find your way to any page from any other page in the site.

Make it Easy for People to Respond

You need to make it as easy as possible for people to respond to you, and to give them multiple ways of doing so.

I was talking to someone last week who only has phone numbers on his site. I think it is much better to include phone numbers, as well as clickable emails, and a form for people to fill out. One of the types of publics that you have to accommodate with your site is people who will search at night (even late at night) or on the weekends. They are much more inclined to fill out a form at those off hours than call. In general the more response options you give, the more responses you will get.

I recommend putting the phone number and possibly the address on the top masthead, or on the sidebar, so it is visible from every page of the site.

Google Analytics

It is vital to be able to see how many people are coming to your site per week or per month. You wouldn’t believe how many people I talk to who have no idea how many people are visiting their site.

The handling is much different if a web site has a ton of visitors but hardly any responses, compared to a site with hardly any traffic. If you don’t have some good web statistics program set up, those two sites will look the same to you.

Google Analytics is a free service, that allows you to see how many people are visiting, what pages they are visiting, what other sites are referring visitors to you, and what keywords they are typing in on search engines to find you. You have to set up an Analytics account, then put some invisible code on each page. Once that’s done you can really see what’s going on.

Offers

Many people think of an offer as “call us now for more information” or “call us now to talk to one of our salesmen.”

The problem with using only this approach is that there are plenty of people visiting your web site who are possible prospects down the road, but are not ready to buy right now for whatever reason. So they’re not going to respond to an offer like that.

If you can get them to respond and get onto your email mailing list, you can communicate to them regularly in a sort of captive audience type of way. You can educate them about your products or services, and more importantly, you can place your company into their mind so they think of YOU when they are ready to buy. This is called “top of mind awareness.”

You are definitely expending resources, either time or money or both, to get someone to your site. So placing items on your site that will entice people to respond and put themselves on your mailing list is very important. But this is getting harder and harder these days because people are deluged with email. So you have to give them a good reason to add one more email to their inbox.

An email newsletter is a great choice, but of course you have to be prepared to create that newsletter and create quality content for it on an ongoing basis. I write mine and send it out once a week, but monthly or twice a month are fine.

Another great way to get people to respond is with information products such as “free reports” or “white papers.” These are written about topics related to your products or services so that everyone who requests it would theoretically be a prospect. Then you set it up so that the visitor has to give you his name and contact info in order to get it. I have used this technique very successfully over the years at a variety of companies.

You can offer a free online course, where the person gives you his name and email and then receives a series of emails with the information (via an autoresponder). It’s like a free report or white paper, but in a different format.

You can also create videos with information that would be useful to your prospects, and then require that people give you their name and email in order to access the videos.

The whole point of these offers is to get the people who are not necessarily ready to buy right now to respond to you and get onto your mailing list. Then to send them regular newsletters and/or sales information.

Hopefully these tips will help you get the most out of your web site.

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