Case Study Background Information
A single Mom with online business ambitions became a website design client after experiencing total disaster the previous two years. The client is foreign born and speaks conversational English, so without adequate pc skills or the ability to create business correspondence in English, over the course of time she fell victim to what I would characterize as online scams. Many decisions were based on late night television commercials, and trusted advisors were what she really needed. Each of her 8-10 www domains made zero dollars over two years, yet she continued ignoring my advice in the hope of salvaging these cookie cutter sites into a profitable business.
Here is the message sent by email. Company names have been replaced with their product or service to avoid identifying them or her.
You shouldn’t do too many web sites all at once. Success on the internet takes more than just having web sites. If you don’t have products from companies that you can trust, you will be lost and your money will be lost, too.
I’m not sure if you have someone giving you advice, or if you search the internet and decide what to do next, but the success you imagine can’t happen by magic. It takes knowledge and experience, and then long hours and hard work. The commercials on television late at night are often too good to be true, and with them you have one web site that looks like 1000 others (or 10,000 in the case of the gas pill company).
The gas pill business was a big disaster no matter what happens with their legal case later this year. Like the wholesale products company, buyers have 1000’s of online stores that all look the same, so you need to understand competition, and how to win this battle.
Here is what you need to succeed:
1. A popular product that is unique
2. A web site to promote the product and get listed in search engines
3. Traffic to your web site to see the product
4. Marketing to get more people to your web site
5. Return visitors to buy the product
6. Customer service by email and phone
People will never buy from you the first time they visit your web site. You need something SO exciting that they will return to your web site again and again. You need customers that are so happy they will tell other people about what you do. Finally, you need to improve search engine ranking to drive traffic to your site, or take on personal marketing like mailers to promote your online business.
A designer can help with the web design and graphics. Many do not have time to do marketing. Repeating what I said above, “It takes knowledge and experience, and then long hours and hard work.” It will be difficult or impossible if you do not have the knowledge and experience, or make the mistake of trusting people who will take advantage of that fact. You can get help to know what to do, but you must be prepared to do the long hours and hard work.
For example, any new web site usually takes 6 months to one year to get listed in search engines, and a one-page website may take years (or never). The answer is pick one business, have a big web site that is search engine friendly, do personal marketing immediately, and realize that traffic from search engines will take 6 months to one year (or longer). Your personal effort will determine success, so you must do more to have sales quickly.
Sites like wholesale products or the gas pill include 1000’s of owners with similar content. Search engines see that they all look alike, and you can never end up on page one when people search for those products. Search engines absolutely hate web site names with “super” or “best”, etc like the Super Realty site. People may not find that type of site with search engines. You keep writing about all these web sites and new web sites. You need one web site that makes money. After it succeeds, then you can look at new ones using the profits. Otherwise, you do not have enough time to promote 10 web sites and so in the end you make no money.
Next, you have ideas about web design. The first impression is so important that your visitors need to feel comfortable at your web site. A cute blinking picture of your daughter smiling is not what people want. People spend money to solve problems. They go online for information, not to spend money. They visit web sites and compare information. Once they do that, they return to what they feel is the best solution. Gas pills? Clothes? Gifts? Real Estate? If you don’t understand the competition and how to get some of that business, it will be difficult. Your web site must convince visitors to return after they are done comparison shopping. A one-page site or portal to 8-10 web sites can’t do that. They shop, they compare, they gather information, and then they return to buy. If you can’t get them back it won’t work.
Each of the 6 items in the list above takes a plan. The strategy is critical to success. Make a mistake in any one, and making money will seem impossible.
The brutal comments to new marketing wannabes are made as a friend, not to make anyone feel bad.
Many web designers will take your money without giving advice, especially marketing advice. For me, trying to help some clients is very difficult if they already trust the wrong people, and don’t have the experience to do this without help. Website designers may not have the time to teach you everything you need to know. Think about what you want for one project, and make that the priority. It’s better to spend $1000 on one web site than to have 10 at $300 each.
Be cautious with online turnkey offers. Realize that the formula for success seems simple; offer a quality product or service at a fair price and deliver on time, and then follow up with exceptional customer service to ensure referrals. The process listed in the 6 steps above is more complicated, so my advice is do your research and seek out trusted advisors. The writing skills necessary to succeed may require the work of a freelance writer, so investigate copywriting specialists. The investment in making a professional first impression often determines the difference between success and failure.