The Top 10 Internet Marketing Blunders

Background: This article is reproduced (with permission) from the premier issue of the Internet Marketing Chronicles, an excellent marketing newsletter. Sign-up information at the bottom of the article.

We are the first to admit that there are no Internet marketing geniuses behind the pages of this newsletter. We continue to learn something new each and every day. But that's what is so exciting about it -- each time we act on our newfound knowledge our online sales increase.

You should make an effort to do the same, and this week we're going to help you do just that by sharing with you what we feel to be The Top 10 Internet Marketing Blunders. Chances are you're making at least one of them, so you may want to give the following some serious thought.

Keep in mind that the following really only applies if you are trying to run some sort of business online, which most of us are. You can afford to make a few blunders with a personal homepage, but if you're running a business online the following "rules" are written in stone. Because the following are serious mistakes which all detract from your bottom line, we're going to tell it like it is at the risk of sounding elitist or egotistical. We don't want to offend anyone, it's just that there are certain things that you really shouldn't do. Here goes ...

Blunder #1: Using free or cheapo web hosting services.
Let's get one thing straight, you absolutely can not run a business web site using a free web page such as those offered by Angelfire, Tripod, GeoCities, HyperMart, FreeYellow, etc. No matter what you may think, it just isn't going to work. As they say you get what you pay for. There is no bigger turnoff than visiting a web site that is hosted on an obviously overloaded web server. We won't mention any names, but a few of the free services are just terrible. Your web site is the most important asset you have, and it must give a good first impression.

Besides, nothing is really free anyway. When you get "free" web space you are normally required to show the hosting company's banners and advertisements in prime locations on your web site. This is absolutely insane if you really think about it from a business standpoint. These days you can find a good web hosting company that will provide what you need for as little as $20 a month. Let's be real, if you aren't willing to spend $20 a month on a good web host how serious can you be? Many good prospects are immediately turned off by this blunder.

And while we're on the subject of web hosting, be sure to get your own domain name. Again, if you aren't willing to spend $70 to claim your stake on the web ... what are your potential customers going to think? Take your business seriously, or you will ultimately fail.

Blunder #2: Destroying your site with graphics, java, music, etc.
This has got to be the 2nd most offensive Internet marketing blunder. If you are running a business online, your web site's most important job is to sell your products and services. Anything that detracts from this should be avoided like the plague. And we mean it, literally!

Unless you are a graphic designer, graphics that take forever to load are not going to sell anything. And neither is java that crashes your visitor's browser. Same thing for any but the most popular plug-ins. Sound or music clips on your web site? Heck no! Unless you are selling CDs, sound does not belong on a web site -- not yet anyway. Sure you can argue this, but the bottom line is that it can cause your visitors problems. Fancy graphics, java, plug-ins, sound files, etc. do nothing but make your pages take forever to load.

Don't take it from us, just look at any of the top 100 sites on the web. Heck, look at Yahoo which is undeniably the most popular web site on the Internet. When was the last time you saw fancy java apps, needed a plug-in, or heard music coming from Yahoo's web site?

Blunder #3: Not asking for, and acting on, comments and feedback.
This is another big one, and we can personally attest to the value of asking for and acting on feedback. One thing that many people seem to forget is that it's the prospect who has to like what they see -- and not much else matters. Here's a real-world example.

A while ago we launched a web site, and initially use a frames-based layout. We were aware of the potential problems, and spent lots of time tweaking it to be as browser-friendly as possible. But after asking for feedback we discovered that many visitors hated it. And the scary thing is that unless we asked for feedback we probably never would have realized this. Everything looked and worked well for us, but a significant number of our visitors had problems with it. We redesigned the entire site and immediately our sales increased.

You will be literally amazed at the valuable feedback you will receive if you just ask for it. Remember that your prospects are the ones buying your products and services, and despite what you may think, the way they perceive your site and your business is what counts.

Blunder #4: Wasting your valuable time on unproductive activities.
As an Internet marketer your most valuable asset is time. And yes, time is more valuable than money so spend yours wisely. Because your time is a limited resource, you will need to learn to prioritize. There are certain things that are more important than others. For example, consider the amount of time you spend on various promotion and marketing activities. Do you actually know which is most productive for you? If you don't you're wasting precious time. Test all of your advertising and spend your time appropriately.

Search engines are another example. One of the biggest myths that is circulating the web marketing community is that getting a top 10 listing will make you an overnight success. Don't believe the hype, and don't waste your time trying to get there.

One of the most important things you can ever do is to automate as much of your day-to-day activities as possible. This includes order fulfillment as well. To succeed online in a big way, you will need to spend most of your time advertising and marketing your business.

Blunder #5: Not managing your email communications efficiently.
Your email communication with prospects and customers will make or break you. Since most of the time you will never get a chance to impress them in person, you really need to learn how to use email to your advantage. Much of it is common sense actually.

Each and every day we receive emails from people asking us to do business with them in one way or another, and many of them look like they were written by a 10 year-old. Spelling errors, grammar problems, poorly formatted and difficult to read ... you name it.

No one is perfect and we all make mistakes, but there is no excuse for this. Get yourself a good email program, learn how to use it, and spell-check all of your correspondence. You know what they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression.

For email we like Qualcom's Eudora Pro, if you're using your web browser for email now you really need to check it out. Download a free demo. It will make your life easier in more ways than we could ever explain here.

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