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"Seven Reasons Why Websites Fail"
by Melvin Mudgett-Price
Published in COSE Update
10/1/1998
You have just built your first web site. All of your colleagues and friends compliment you on your entrepeneurial spirit and for embracing the latest and greatest marketing tool. You sit back and wait for the orders to come flooding in, but they don't. Why?

  1. Inadequate Marketing
    Many companies fail to incorporate their website into their overall marketing plan. A marketing budget has to be allocated and a strategy worked out exactly as you would for traditional marketing efforts. The Internet may be new, but the need for promotion is not. Put your site address on all of your printed material: Letterhead, business cards, brochures, catalogues, faxes, billboards, etc.
  2. Ignoring Feedback
    A website gives you the opportunity to receive immediate feedback. Treat responses as valuable research. If users like most of what they see but criticize some areas, give them more of the things they praise and change the things they criticize. David Ogilvy of Ogilvy and Mather once said, "We all have a tendency to use feedback as a drunkard uses a lamppost - for support, not for illumination."
  3. Unrealistic Expectations
    It takes time and resources to build new and repeat traffic. Don't expect too much too soon and don't abandon a web project before it has had time to become a productive part of your marketing strategy.
  4. Sufficent Content
    Don't build a site that is a copy of your print materials. Keep content fresh and interesting. Post information that may not be available elsewhere because of the inherent time lag with print format.

  5. Not Exploiting the Medium
    The web is a new marketing medium. Use it wisely instead of using new technology for technology's sake. A feedback form that solicits contact and demogrphic information from your viewers is invaluable as a sales tool.
    Your site can sell for you 24 hours a day and encourage impulse buys. Make it easy for your visitors to buy. Consider commerce enabling the site, and installing shopping cart software and credit card validation.

  6. Lack of Contact Information
    The number one complaint of visitors is a lack of contact information, or information that is buried too deeply within the site. Contact information should never be more than one click away and preferably on every page. You should include an email link, telephone number, and mailing information. If you have a toll-freenumber, display it.
    E-mail links should be in the form of "sales@mycompany.com" and not "Click here to contact us." A lot of people print web pages to review them at a later time. "Click Here" gives them no way to contact you without going back to your site.

  7. Using Inside Resources
    Too many companies rely on inside resources to build their wbsite. Your highly talented graphic designer's work may not translate well to the web where attention spans are short and download times are critical. Just because your resident programmer can learn HTML, doesn't mean that he or she can translate that knowledge into an effective site.
    The web is evolving at a rapid pace, and only professional web design companies stay on top of the latest technologies. Use their knowledge to your advantage. The initial outlay may seem higher, but the money is well spent, as you will avoid making costly mistakes.
    An unprofessional site is worse than no site at all. You would not mail out 10,000 second-rate brochures, so don't do it on the web. Remember, on the internet, you have only one chance to capture the interest of a potential customer.

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