By: Diane Hughes,
I spend a lot of time emailing with online business owners. Since that’s my specialty, I find a lot of people asking me questions about my success. What amazes me is that many of those people are asking the wrong questions!
The questions I’m talking about come from site owners who want to know how to make themselves look good online. These site owners want to write copy that is all about *their* company. They want to have a flash home page because *they* like it. They want to use *their* favorite colors in the design.
The problem is, it isn’t *their* site! Let me explain…
Think about it a minute. Why do you believe most department stores now willingly offer refunds? Years ago they didn’t. In fact, it was a well-known fact that, if you bought it, you owned it for life. Yet, in just the last 15 years or so, that way of thinking has been completely reversed. The reason? Customer demand.
Retailers recognized a customer need, and they filled it. They understood that customers were the ones who made the purchases and, therefore, the ones who kept their retail stores in business. The smart thing to do? Reverse the refund policy and keep customers happy.
Was it the store’s idea to offer refunds? No. If it were up to the stores, no money would ever be returned. After all, it’s *their* store, isn’t it? They can do what they want. Yeah, right! Not if they want to stay in business.
The same principle applies to your website. Sure, *you* may want to use certain colors on your site, but what would your customer prefer? Your favorite thing in the online world may be flash intros, but your customers might despise them. You may not like the idea of offering a guarantee, but what about your customers? Whose site is it, anyway? Yours? No, not really.
Before you get too entangled in making your site everything you want it to be, consider your customers’ wants and needs.
ACTION STEP 1
Make Your Copy Customer Focused – Go back to your site and read your copy. Does it say anything similar to this? “Welcome to my website. My company does this, that, and the other thing. I am the best company of my type on the Internet. My site has been online since 1999. Buy from me.” If so, you have some work to do.
Focus on your customers. What are their needs/wants? Rather than copy that says, “Me, me, we, us, I, I, I,” you want copy that acknowledges visitors, makes a connection with them, defines their needs, and offers solutions to their problems.
ACTION STEP 2
Turn Your Site Into An Invitation, Not An Eviction – Do you have a flash home page? If you check your stats, I’ll bet you’ll find more people who skip the flash intro of your site than people who actually view it.
Flash is extremely popular with Web designers, but it is extremely unnerving to site visitors. Don’t force flash on your customers.
ACTION STEP 3
Check Your Navigation – Can your visitors find their way around your site easily? How would you know? The best way to find out for sure is to ask a few people who have never seen your site before to surf on over and take a look around. Ask them to spend 10 or 15 minutes browsing. Then ask them to tell you about their experiences.
Paying due attention to your customers and their needs is one of the best things you can do to improve your online business. Put yourself in your customers’ place. When you turn your site into a welcoming environment specifically designed for your visitors, they can’t help but want to return again and again.