Thursday, November 29, 2007

Building Credibility and Maintaining it

Finally, make sure that you build trust and credibility for your business. We discussed earlier the importance of credibility. Credibility is a key ingredient for any successful business venture. Building and enhancing the credibility of the products and services you offer is an ongoing and full-time effort.why not make sure the website you use works as hard as you do to establish credibility? Let's look at elements that can be built into a well-designed website to enhance credibility in the eyes of your potential customers.

Offer a Guarantee

Nothing beats a solid, believable guarantee for building credibility online. It may be hard to believe, but buying via the Internet is still unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory for many people. It is up to you, the business owner, to put their minds at ease. One way to do this would be to offer an unconditional, 100% money back guarantee.

By assuming all of the risk, you will earn instant credibility points with most potential customers.

Provide Contact Information

Even the best guarantee won't help establish credibility if the potential customer cannot contact you. Post accurate contact information on your website and make it easy to find. Provide as many methods of contact as possible; do not simply post a link to an email address. For maximum credibility, post the complete mailing address, phone number (preferably a toll free number), and email addresses for customers to use if they feel the need to contact you.

Provide a Brief Bio

Familiarity is one of the most effective tools for building credibility on the Internet. How do you establish familiarity in a faceless, impersonal medium like the Internet? Simple, tell people about yourself. Post a page that provides a thumbnail sketch that describes who you are. Be sure to include personal data as well as professional credentials. Place your photo on the page so people can put a face with your name. Creating familiarity will impart another level of credibility for you and, by extension, for the product you represent. In this chapter, we looked at how to build your website and explained many of the elements your website must contain to be effective. We discussed web hosting and domain names and even talked about how to use expiring domain names to get free traffic flowing to your website. And we’re only getting started! In the next chapter, we’re going to look more closely at some of the more popular and successful Internet business ideas.

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Tracking Your Sales

Like any business, it is absolutely vital to track and maintain your sales records. You should have a clear understanding of your income and expenditures.

There are many ways to keep track of your sales. Using orthodox methods such as keeping a paper journal is time consuming. Simple spreadsheet programs as well as basic accounting software are available at minimum or no cost. However, it is advisable to install advanced accounting software such as QuickBooks, Quicken, or Microsoft Money to keep track of your accounting. Such advanced programs save you time by sorting your register transactions by date, transaction amount, document number (e.g. check number), order entered, or cleared status. The tracking feature included in such software tracks, by user, changes made to each transaction. Daily, weekly, monthly as well as yearly sales reports can be generated with a few clicks. These reports help you analyze the sales of each and every product. Logs and reports can be generated to keep track of all your customers.

NOTE: Affiliate marketing solves many of the aforementioned tracking problems for you automatically. When you become an affiliate and resell other company’s products for a profit, the company you are affiliated with keeps track of your traffic and sales automatically and presents all this information to you in easy to read charts and graphs. Click here to learn about a turn-key affiliate marketing system that you can use to earn multiple streams of income on the Internet.

Monitoring and Tracking

Understanding what your visitors do on your site is crucial information, not to mention interesting. If a large majority of your visitors who proceed to purchase a product leave the site when they get to a specific page in the order process, you need to know about it. It could be that the page in question is confusing or hard to use. Fixing it could increase your sales exponentially. In fact, it is not uncommon for small website changes in headlines and order processes to result in a 200%-300% increase in sales. This is just an example; there are many reasons why you want a detailed analysis of your site visitors. Most website hosting services offer a stats package that you can study. If you're not sure where this is, call up your hosting service and ask them. Statistics are a vital part of tracking your marketing progress. If you don't have access to website statistics get a package that can help you in this area. Do not get a counter that just shows how many visitors you've had. You'll be missing out on vital information that can help strengthen weaknesses in your site. A good website hosting service would offer traffic logs that provide an invaluable insight into the traffic being referred to a web site from various sources such as search engines, directories and other links.

Unfortunately, traffic tracking provided by web hosting services is often in the form of raw traffic log files or other hard-to-comprehend, cryptic formats. These log files are basically text files that describe actions on the site. It is literally impossible to use the raw log files to understand what your visitors are doing. If you do not have the patience to go through these huge traffic logs, opting for a trafficlogging package would be a good idea.

Basically two options are available to you and these are: using a log analysis package or subscribing to a remotely hosted trafficlogging service. A remotely hosted traffic logging service may be easy to use and is generally the cheaper option of the two. In fact, you can get a powerful free tracking tool at: Other reliable tracking programs include and These services do not use your log files. Typically a small section of code is placed on any page you want to track. When the page is viewed, information is stored on the remote server and available in real time to view in charts and tables form. A good traffic logging service provides detailed statistics pertaining to the following:

.. How many people visit your site?
.. Where are they from?
.. How are visitors finding your site?
.. What traffic is coming from search engines, links from other
sites, and other sources?
.. What keyword search phrases are they using to find your
.. What pages are frequented the most - what information are
visitors most interested in?
.. How do visitors navigate within your web site?

Knowing the answers to these and other fundamental questions is essential for making informed decisions that maximize the return on investment (ROI) of your website investment.

The most important aspect of tracking visitors to your website is analyzing all the statistics you get from your tracking software. The three main statistics that will show your overall progress are hits, visitors and page views. Hits are tracked when any picture or page loads from your server on to a visitor’s browser. Hits, however, can be very misleading. It is quite an irrelevant statistic for your website. The statistic that is probably the most important for a website is Page Views/Visitors. This gives you a good indication of two things. First, how many people are coming to your site, and secondly how long are they staying on your site. If you have 250 visitors and 300 page views you can figure that most visitors view one page on your site and then leave. Generally, if you're not getting 2 page views per visitor then you should consider upgrading your site's content so your visitors will stay around longer.

If you see the number of visitors you have increasing as well as the number of page views per visitor increasing then keep up the good work! Always look for this stat as an overall barometer of how your site design is going and if your marketing campaigns are taking hold. Also, a good stat to look for is unique visitors. Once a person visits your site they will not be added to the unique visitors category if they visit again. This is a good way to track new visitors to your website.

Page views are a good indication of how "sticky" your website is. A good statistic to keep is Page Views divided by the number of Visitors you have. This statistic will give you a good idea if your content is interesting and if your visitors are staying on your site for a long time and surfing. Some people are intimidated by web traffic statistics (mostly because of the sheer volume of data available), but they shouldn't be. While there are many highly specialized statistics that can be used for more in-depth web traffic analysis, the above areas alone can provide invaluable information on your visitors and your website performance. Remember, this data is available for a reason. It's up to you to use it.

Testing and Performance

You have designed a very usable website, you have hosted it using a very reliable web hosting company, and you have integrated a safe and trusted payment processing system with your website. However, all these can prove to be useless until you know your site is actually working and accessible. If you want to create an accessible website, you will need to test, test and test again. A recent Forrester Research report reported that failure to ensure website quality will cost the average small or mid-size company thousands of dollars in wasted expenditures on website redesigns, forfeited revenue, and lost customers. Testing a website is a long and tedious task, but it's perhaps the most important task of all. There are numerous stages to testing, all of which are very important. Ranging from browser testing to content testing, none should be excluded.

Visual Acceptance Testing

Visual Acceptance Testing is the first port-of-call for all webmasters. This type of testing generally ensures that the site looks as it is intended to. This includes checking the graphic integration, and simply confirming that the site looks good. In this stage you should assess every page carefully to ensure that each looks the same. The site should be tested under different screen resolutions and color depths.

Functionality Testing

Functionality testing is perhaps the most vital area of testing, and one which should never be missed. Functionality testing involves an assessment of every aspect of the site where scripting or code is involved, from searching for dead links, to testing forms and scripts. You should also test your payment processing system completely and thoroughly. After all, you wouldn’t want a potential customer to get stuck at the last stage and eventually leave the site just because there is something wrong with payment processing.

Content Proofing

This stage of testing removes any errors in your content, and ensures that your site has a professional appearance. In this phase, you should reread each page on your site, and check for spelling and grammatical errors.

System and Browser Compatibility Testing

This test phase is completed in order to ensure that your website renders correctly on a user's screen. To begin with, you should test several pages from your site on different browsers such as Internet Explorer 4, 5, 6, Netscape 4 and 6, and Opera. This can be extremely important - if your site does not work properly with the Netscape browser, Netscape users will end up annoyed, and they'll go elsewhere.

The Host

Let’s start where the Internet starts: with a host. A host is a server that provides a home for your website on the World Wide Web. Just as your computer contains all your files, so a host contains all the files needed to run your website. Why can’t you just keep all those files on your own computer? Because that would mean visitors would have to connect directly to your computer to see your website and that’s not a good idea. It wouldn’t be secure and it would make your machine run like a tired snail. With a host, you can simply upload everything you need to the server and your users can then connect there to see your site. It lets the site run faster and allows it to have all the security and extras it needs.

Selecting a host is the first important step towards building your Internet business.

Hosting services and companies vary from totally free, shared servers to large-scale dedicated machines. You’ll have to decide which is right for you and your business.

Your choice of server will depend on how much money you have available at the beginning and how much you plan to grow in the future. In my opinion, for commercial sites, free hosting is a waste of time. Your users are going to get blasted with annoying pop-ups every time they surf to your page, it’s going to be impossible to get a decent position in a search engine, and you don’t even get a real business URL. No one’s going to remember your web address if they have to type: However, it is possible to choose a cheaper host at the beginning and move up as your business begins to bring in money.

NOTE: One of the most important factors in choosing a website host is the customer service you receive once you’ve signed up. There are many technical issues that can come up once you have your own website, and if you don’t have a truly dedicated hosting company to support you and help you resolve these issues when necessary, you could, quite simply, lose your business. Trust me, I’ve seen many thriving online businesses fall apart because they chose the wrong hosting company. When hosting is cheap, there is a reason for it. With website hosting, you get exactly what you pay for and you should never compromise when it comes to who to host your website with. Click here to learn about my service and the website hosting company I highly recommend to everyone who does business online.

Using Expired Domains to Skyrocket Your Traffic

Domain names provide a great opportunity to make easy money. I’m not talking about Internet real estate, where you buy up good names and sell them on for a profit. If you didn’t get positioned in that market early on, you can forget about it. The bottom’s fallen out of the market and the best domains are long gone. I’m talking about expiring domains.

Thousands of webmasters invest time, effort and money to promote their site and build up traffic. Many of them then lose interest and move on, leaving their site active. That means that although they still own the domain, they’re not actively promoting it. But they don’t need to. All the automatic marketing systems they’ve put in place are still bringing in traffic. The site runs itself.

Now, at some point the ownership of those domains is going to expire. If you snap up those domains once they come back onto the market, you’ve got a pre-built stream of customers. You can either rebuild the site, or redirect the traffic to your domain. It’s that easy. In fact, websites like actually do all the legwork and let you reap all the rewards.

Do be careful when using other sites though. There are some swindlers out there that will sell you subscriptions, provide you with outdated lists, take your money and keep the good domains for themselves. It happens, and there’s little point in taking a risk with other companies when does such a great job.

Choosing a Domain Name

In the physical world, you can distinguish a business because of its structure, window displays, or signs. You can tell that a bank is a bank, or a clothing store is indeed a clothing store. In the Internet, however, it is an entirely different story altogether. Your domain name is the only clue to your online business.

You do not have visual clues: no location, no look, and no store design. Instead, users have to type in a word or a set of words to reach your site. Your prospective visitor has no way of knowing what your site is all about until she finds it and reads its contents. Who can ever tell that sells books? Or that Excite is a search engine?

Your domain name can spell your success on the Internet. A good domain name is the best asset you can ever have. It can make your business stand out in the crowd, or just float aimlessly in space. The need to provide immediate clues to an online business led to the prevalence of generic domain names. Generic names instantly provide the user with an idea of what a business is all about, what to expect and look for in a site. For instance, is a toy store. The temptation of the generic name has been so powerful; that some companies even paid ridiculously high prices to get the name they want. The domains and were both bought for $3 million each. was acquired for $1.75 million, while sold for $1.1 million.

However, generic names do not necessarily create the “buzz” that you’d like surrounding your website. Branding has always been about proper names: McDonald's did not name their store Hamburger. Hertz is not called Car Rental. FedEx is not Mail Carrier. Kodak is not Photographs. Google is not Search Engine. Microsoft is not Computer Software.

For better branding results, your domain name should stand out and be easy to remember. Consider the following tips when creating a domain name:

.. The domain name should be short
.. The domain name should be simple
.. It should be suggestive of your business category
.. It should be unique
.. It should be easy to interpret and pronounce
.. It should be personalized
.. It should not be difficult to spell
.. It should not be difficult to remember
Domain names can be registered through many different companies (known as "registrars") - a listing of these companies is available at You can register for domain names from 1 to 10 years in advance and prices can vary anywhere from $8 to $30 per

year for each registered domain. Most website hosting companies, as explained later, will handle the registration process for you, but make sure that you are properly listed as the owner of the domain when it is registered. If you have registered a domain name for a specific period, make sure you renew it in time. You’d be surprised at the number of cases, where website owners have lost their domain name to a competitor by not renewing it in time.