It is a sobering fact that the majority of websites are failing miserably or not realizing anything like their potential.

A very common problem is a lack of visitors, and those sites that do get regular traffic often fail to convert those visitors in to customers.

There are many reasons for this. Most of the planning usually goes in to the design of the website and all of the fancy features that will wow the visitors, the thought process is to build a honey pot and the visitors will come.

It’s an entirely understandable desire and I wish it worked that way, unfortunately it doesn’t. I can’t count the number of failing sites I have seen with the baffled owner saying something along the lines of “But we hired an expensive web designer and the site looks great”.

Absolutely no disrespect to website designers, they have an important and often undervalued skill, but most have very little understanding of direct marketing principles or how to get traffic, there are always exceptions but it is unusual to find people with both of these skill sets.

It is a bit like hiring a painter and decorator to design and architect your house, just suggesting you might do that sounds mad.

This is not to say you do not need good website design, but that is only one piece of the puzzle and there are other factors that are equally or more important.

It is a fact that with enough traffic and a compelling offer even an ugly website can make sales. Have you ever looked at Craigslist?

There is a common tendency to regard the Internet as some magical place where the rules of sales and marketing go out of the window. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Internet is just another marketing channel. Those who do well on it treat it as such.

Prior to the rise of the Internet in the mid 90’s the nearest equivalent was direct response advertising and mail order. This is of course very much alive and well today, the principles are exactly the same.

The major steps with mail order are to write a compelling offer using good copy writing, ask people to take a particular action, keep following up as people often do not buy until they have been exposed to an offer numerous times, make higher priced offers to buyers, rinse and repeat.

The big downside with direct mail is of course the associated costs. Paying for materials, printing, packaging, postage etc is an expensive proposition. Get your offer or your audience wrong and you can quickly lose your shirt.

But have you noticed how many offers you still get through traditional snail mail? I am on a number of mailing lists as I have bought many information products through the years, and I still respond to a really good offer.

In essence the Internet allows you to fail much more cheaply! But you have to take a very similar approach.

The first step is to get a stream of reliable traffic who are looking for what you are offering. In the mail order scenario you would buy a mailing list from a list broker.

You can read another of my articles here which explains how to work out what potential visitors are actually looking for.

There is an equivalent for the Internet in the form of paid traffic, or you can gradually try to build up organic traffic through various methods using blogs and social media etc.

Paid traffic is considerably cheaper than mail order and you can start very small with literally just $10 or $20 and test whether that traffic makes you a profit. If it does you can now scale up, pay for more visitors and make more money. If not you can tweak your site and/or your advert and try again.

The key is to keep marketing and ensure that you have a steady stream of visitors. When you have this you can focus on turning those visitors in to customers and following up relentlessly.

If following up bothers you because you don’t want to risk irritating people, consider this – on average a customer only buys when they have been exposed to advertising about that product 6 or 7 times. You have to follow up if you want to make sales.

When you have traffic you need to make sure that you offer an engaging experience. Are you offering something of real value? Is there a good reason for me to stay on your site or an incentive to take some action?

Unless you have good content it is highly likely that your visitor attrition rate will be high, they won’t hang around without very good reason.

Build trust and a loyal customer base and traffic will start to look after itself anyway.

Just remember that we are in an age where we are all sold to continuously, if you want fans don’t send prospects and customers sales pitch after sales pitch or you will just turn them off. Send them useful free information and let them see how much you have to offer.

A very successful model is to drive traffic to your website, give something of value away in return for an email address. Follow up regularly by email and provide further value, but throw in sales offers along the way.

Over deliver, give things away, make your correspondence something that people can look forward to. In other words behave differently from your competition and you will stand out from the crowd.

If you look at the emails that engage you and the rare marketers who you look forward to hearing from, it is very likely that you have an affinity with their style and personality. They might well tell stories as part of their engagement, they keep you interested.

Do the same and watch your sales start to soar!

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