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January 10, 2012

Educating Your Visitors – The Power of Giving and User-Friendly Websites – A SPN Exclusive Article

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I’ve been involved in sales and marketing for over twenty years – half my adult life. And sometimes I still get confused when I browse the Internet and visit websites searching for information, or to make a purchase. I’m absolutely amazed at how complicated some marketers make doing business online.

Let’s talk about searching for information for a moment. After all, most people go online not to buy anything, but rather to search for information to solve a problem they have. Knowing this is important, because if you understand that the Internet is driven by information and information seekers, as a marketer, you can kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

1. You can provide information seekers with the information they’re looking for.

2. You can educate potential prospects and turn them into customers.

Educate Your Visitors First

If you visit my website, you won’t see any banners or advertising of any kind. Why? Because I built my site as a free marketing resource to educate my visitors. I’m not selling anything, so the only thing you’ll see on my site is free information… lots and lots of free information.

So how do I monetize my site? How do I make any money? Well, people read my marketing articles on highly-respected websites like SiteProNews, then they visit my website. And between the advice I dispense in my articles and on my site, as well as select small business forums, people can determine for themselves if I know what I’m talking about. Once they become convinced of my expertise, they inquire about my marketing consulting services… become satisfied clients, word-of-mouth kicks in, and voila… my cup runneth over!

In other words, I create content to educate people and help them solve a particular problem. And I do this without an agenda – without asking for anything in return. But a funny thing happens when you educate people – provided the information has value and is accurate. You enhance your own credibility and increase the value of your products and services.

And this method of marketing works regardless of what you’re selling – even if you sell something as nondescript as a glue stick. Yes, a glue stick! Become the glue stick expert. For example, you can create content about the glue stick industry and related products. Educate people about glue sticks. Enhance your company’s credibility, and increase the value of your products and services.

So am I suggesting that you shouldn’t have any banners or other types of advertising on your site? No, I’m not suggesting that at all. Whether or not you choose to feature advertising on your site is a decision you have to make for yourself. I choose not to. What I am suggesting, however, is that you put educating your visitors first – ahead of profits. If you do that, the money will follow… I promise you.

The Power of Giving

“The universe operates through dynamic exchange… giving and receiving are different aspects of the flow of energy in the universe. And in our willingness to give that which we seek, we keep the abundance of the universe circulating in our lives.” – Deepak Chopra

The bible says…

“Give, and it shall be given to you. For whatever measure you deal out to others, it will be dealt to you in return.” – Luke 6:38

In other words, the more you give to others, the more you will get back in return. You’ll find this law is infallible – provided you aren’t giving with the express purpose of getting something back in return. You see, giving disingenuously is both manipulative and calculative. And while you may reap some benefits in the short term, eventually, bad karma will come knocking at your door, and you will have to pay the piper. So when you give, give freely and mean it sincerely.

I think the great Seth Godin put it best…

“Gifts with strings attached don’t make good gifts.”

How To Create A User-Friendly Website

1. Have fast-loading pages. Slow loading pages are annoying to searchers and affects their ability to access content quickly. If your pages load slowly, this may frustrate visitors and cause them to exit your site, never to return.

You can quickly check your page speed at Page Speed Online, a free web application offered by Googlelabs. This tool tests the speed of your page and gives it a score from 1-100, based on the performance of your page. The Page Speed Score indicates how much faster a page could be. A high score indicates little room for improvement, while a lower score indicates more room for improvement. In other words, the higher the score, the better. The Page Speed Score does not measure the time it takes for a page to load – just whether or not it loads quickly. If you score on the lower end of the scale, read “How to Speed Up Web Pages,” to learn what you can do to speed up your pages.

2. Have a crystal clear identity.
Have you ever landed on a website and didn’t know what it was about? How did you feel? You didn’t like it did you? And I’ll bet you probably clicked out of there pretty quickly. Well, your visitors don’t like it either. Don’t let your visitors have to try and figure out what your website is all about. Make it crystal clear, right from the beginning. Having a big, descriptive headline on your home page is an excellent way to announce what your website is about. Also, choose relevant keywords for your pages, as opposed to trying to trick people just to get eyeballs. Keep your keywords relevant to your web pages.

3. Keep it simple. Don’t worry about trying to impress with all kinds of unnecessary whistles and bells. (Does anyone really need flash?) Focus on usability, sales and conversions. Simple website designs convert.

4. Stay away from clutter. Have a clean, user-friendly site that makes it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for. Remember, white space is a good thing. Also, if your website has a lot of content and/or pages, add a search box, to make it easier for your visitors to find what they’re looking for.

5. Don’t give prospects too many choices. While variety can be a good thing, giving prospects too many items to choose from can often backfire. Why? Because giving prospects too many items to choose from can confuse them. And confused prospects don’t buy. Limit product options to no more than two or three choices.

6. Make the buying process easy. Make it easy for prospects to get from your home page to the product page or the checkout page. Don’t make prospects jump through hoops, clicking thru page after page after page to give you their money. If you do, they will become frustrated and abandon your shopping cart.

Conclusion

The methods I suggested in this article are not only good business practices, they will make you successful faster as well. How? By making you stand out, that’s how. After all, if all of your competitors feature advertising on their sites and you don’t, you’re going to stand out.

If you have a user-friendly website, as well as educate your visitors, and your competitors don’t, you’re going to stand out. And if you give your visitors something of value, without asking for anything in return, you’re going to stand out.

And if you stand out among your competitors, eventually, you will stand above your competitors!


David Jackson is a marketing consultant, and the owner of Free-Marketing-Tips-Blog.com – Powerful, free marketing tips to help grow your business! http://free-marketing-tips-blog.com

8 Responses to “Educating Your Visitors – The Power of Giving and User-Friendly Websites – A SPN Exclusive Article

    avatar Andy says:

    Good Featured Article, David! And very true. Interestingly, the ‘giving something for nothing’ technique (to attract, and give subscribers confidence in your services) all started way back in the 1980’s – by The US Reader’s Digest! As a Writer, I worked for them at the time, and giving a Free Gift started to get great results in Magazine Subscription sign-ups, so it became the norm – and still works today! And your comments about ‘user-friendly’ Websites, is equally true, and something we always aim for on our ‘Write2ProfitOnline’site.
    I look forward to further great articles. Happy New 2012!

    avatar jbmkpbg says:

    It is very rare these days to find blogs that provide information someone is looking for. I am glad to see that your blog share valued information that can help to many readers. Thanks and keep writing! photobooth

    avatar Julie says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I have a website I am passionate about that I think can really help people. But last year, on advice, I tried to approach it more as a business. That apparently was the only way I would get it to make money. Boy – what a frustrating year I had!!
    I decided yesterday enough was enough. I was going back to sharing and helping – and let the money come if it wishes. And today – voila! Your article. Like the universe confirming I had made the right choice.
    So thank you again. I know sometimes when we write articles it is like they go into a bottomless void! So I wanted to be sure you knew you had reached at least one person!
    best wishes, Julie.

    Andy, thank you for your kind words. I do have to disagree with you on one thing, however. I distinctly remember companies offering free gifts back in the 70’s. And I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if companies were giving away free gifts during the 50’s and 60’s. I haven’t done any research on the subject, so I can’t say for sure when giving away something for free originated. But I definitely remember it occuring in the 70’s.

    Julie, thank you for taking the time to sharing your story with SPN readers. :)

    Thank you for your valuable feedback everyone. :)

    avatar Adrian says:

    Thanks for the great post. You have a well written and informative blog especially for us.

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