Monday, February 22, 2010

What Is Your Web Site's Business Model?

Read This, Then Evaluate Your Site

Last week I promised a post on video marketing, unfortunately that did not work out. Let’s just say that I would not comfortable endorsing it. When I do find one I can endorse I will let you know but in the meanwhile lets continue discussing web sites.

Today’s post is about the second biggest web site pre-build mistake many business owners make after their decision to build a web site. Actually, there are too many web sites without a business model. Its really easy to tell which sites may be making a living online and which site is not.

Business model

According to Wikipedia the online encyclopedia describes it as: the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value - economic, social, or other forms of value. The term business model is thus used for a broad range of informal and formal descriptions to represent core aspects of a business, including purpose, offerings, strategies, infrastructure, organizational structures, trading practices, and operational processes and policies.

Wikipedia went on to describe a very simple example of the most basic business model: A shop keeper open his doors in a busy location hangs out a sign and starts doing business. Fast forward to 2010, the shop keeper builds a website and… Wooo there tiger, its not the same. A web site is not a “busy location” but it could be.

Wikipedia goes on to provide examples of online business models. It names quite a few models you can copy from or implement on your site. Offline businesses should focus on “brick and click” or “freebie marketing” models. When thinking of your business, it’s recommended that you do not “think inside the box” if you get this business model thing right the rest becomes… well not easy but better.

Don’t Sell

Offering your products or services for sale does not work on information seeker or casual visitors. They are interested and may even be seriously searching for the solution you provide but not right now. If your site is all about you and how great you are without a mechanism to convert visitors, you should ask this question.

How does my web site help my business generate revenue?

An essential ingredient of your online success is the business model you choose. Every site is different and even sites in the same industry can use different business models. The tendency is for businesses in the same industry to blindly follow the competition hoping to duplicate their success. The “if it works for them it will work for us”; is the mindset that normally proceeds a major investment in advertising.

Unfortunately, online and especially in our local market there are not a multitude of competitive examples to identify. The irony is that many of the existing businesses on line are doing it wrong.

Information Seekers

Let’s face it the only reason people are online is to gather free information. Any attempt to sell must be subtle. A well designed web site (by design I mean copy and web design) must be able to persuade a minimum 2 to 3 percent of visitors to take a predetermined action. Anything above that percentage is gravy. The trick is for your site to attract as many visitors as possible so that that small conversion rate befire your site can become a significant revenue generator.

A Filter

View your site as a huge funnel that you use to process all your visitors. Some will fall into the funnel where you can begin to process them. Even those that enter the funnel are not necessarily sold on your product they want to know more about what you have to offer.

Build Relationships


Your marketing campaign should be designed to build a relationship with the subscriber. Expect the 80/20 rule will be in full effect here, i.e. 80 percent of your web site conversions will not buy anything from you business; period. Here are some questions you need to answer…

Can you define your online business model?

At what point do you convert visitors into prospects then buyers?

What are the steps necessary to get your visitors interested in your product or service?

What happens prior to your prospect to dipping into there wallet?

How can you be sure that the site you put up is working to capacity?

Essentially what you need to do is reverse engineer the process and identify each and every step in the transaction.

By now it should become apparent why your online business model should compliment your online purpose. Your site must have at least one marketing tool to convert visitors into performing a specific action. Without some way of getting a causal visitor back to your site the chances are, like we say in Trinidad, between slim and none.

Take a look at your business site, pretend you are a visitor; what would you do? How can you change it so that most of your visitors raise their hands and say; “Yes, I’m interested, I want more information”.

That’s the first step in the process. Without it you are just drifting aimlessly.

Make a comment or PM me with your questions.

Be well

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