Sunday, 12 August 2012

5 Must-Have Tools For a Website

Five Must-Have Tools For Your Website

  • Site Search Box:
    Even a small site would benefit from having a search box especially if you do not have the other tools listed below. This helps users to find what they are looking for quickly. It can be frustrating especially on a large site if (paying) users cannot find what they are looking for on your site, especially if it is about how-to tutorials. You can install a Google search box for free if you do not have technical IT staff / webmaster to code your own (and additionally earn money from their Adsense for search Ads that they display).

  • Sitemap:
    If a user cannot find the information they are looking for or gets disoriented on your site a sitemap is helpful to re-orientate them to your site's navigation, and also to allow them to search for blocks of information (according to how you have organised such information). The search box would complement this in that it allows very specific searches based on user keywords, as well as related keywords.

  • FAQs:
    Having a FAQ section is handy for you if many of your users' questions and queries are repetitive ones so you do not have to reply to every question posted by them as a group. However if your FAQ is not comprehensive it is advisable to have a contact form so they can notify you of their individual and specific or new problems. 

  • Contact Form:
    Many sites do not have this at all. Why make it difficult for users to contact you? Your FAQ may not cover all queries or new ones. So many large sites do not have this facility - it's as if they are afraid of public contact, or perhaps of overloading their IT support staff? Many users when they are frustrated will just up and leave, and only a small percentage will make the effort to contact you. Take it a s a positive sign when visitors (and especially paying users) make contact with you.

    Many businesses pay a fortune for surveys that gather data about their product/ users so that they may better service their customers or prior to a new product launch. A contact form generates so much information and all without you having to do anything ... if you encourage your members or visitors not to go away silently when they have finished visiting your site.  "Tell us how we can improve" or "How we're doing" if you are having ongoing site-updates, is a message you can flash to your visitors and encourage interaction and feedback...all for the better and without costing you a cent.

  • How-To Tutorials:
    If you have a site offering the use of your product or service, eg. hosting it is imperative to have these tutorials, in several formats including video tutorials to cater for different learning styles. Show and tell people how to use your site, product/s and/or service. Don't forget to include pdf transcripts of your videos or written instructions for those without broadband or for those who prefer this learning style. Many people also prefer to print so a print-friendly version of tutorials is another way to add value to your site (it is also a fact that since the move to digital files, sales of printing resources - paper, printers, cartridges - have actually increased; so much for the 'save the trees' rationale).

  •  Forum ('Optional'):
    If you don't provide your own forum, some of your users will try other external forums to address basic issues with your site eg. How to install Wordpress in their hosting account. This will not earn you kudos from other members of this external forum about your brand and worse they may even suggest that your paid member leave you for better pastures! Hosting your own forum provides more content and stickability and another level of service to your paid members. You do not have to offer access to free members and limiting access to paying Premium Members will in fact raise the perceived value of your brand as well as provide a better RANGE of services to them. 

When you have recurring, paying customers it's unwise to disappoint, frustrate and lose them because your site is unhelpful, when the solution to this can be so easily remedied. On the contrary be grateful you have customers and keep them loyal by bestowing them with unbeatable service and products. Don't take your customers for granted.

In these highly competitive times, when there are a gazillion choices on the Net with many free and next-to-free offers, this is your one and only chance to 'walk the talk' and offer that USP - Unique Selling Point - which is service - especially if you have reached your discounting limit, as a business.

And in fact, price point is not the main factor in determining customer loyalty - it is actually service (or a lack of). If you are serious about making profits it is your job not only to acquire new customers but to keep old ones happy. As it costs more to acquire new ones it makes even more sense to do all you can to retain existing customers. When customers leave, they never come back.

And when customers have paid for high ticket items, it's especially advisable to go that extra, not ten, but 1000 miles ... for them, let alone what you have promised before they purchased! a point that even some high profile marketers seemed to have missed.

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