Serious Business


Article by: Willie Crawford

A very big part of internet marketing success is dependent upon conveying a professional, ethical, and trustworthy image. So many businesses convey just the opposite image without seeming to realize it. So I'll point out just a few things you may be doing that probably hurt your business more than you realize.

1) Domain Name. It IS a widely held belief that if you don't have your own domain name and a site hosted by a paid host, you are somehow fly-by-night. Free web pages are great for nonprofit purposes - but not for business purposes. The perception is that since you didn't pay for the site you have nothing to loose by setting up house, making a quick profit, and then moving on to another site.

I have mirror pages that funnel traffic to my main site. They offer free
services and information - but generate a fraction of the sales that my main site does. Some of these pages are number one for certain keywords at some of the search engines - yet they don't project the image needed to generate the sales I need to continue growth at an acceptable rate.

Prior to getting my own domain name I was directly challenged by a number of prospects who obviously were interested in my product - otherwise they wouldn't have bothered writing. I also saw where queries were made to see if complaints had been filed against me at several oversight groups. So again, I had indicators that prospects were interested, but didn't know whether they could trust someone using a free web site.

Back in April 98 I asked the 80,000 members of the Links Exchange Digest their opinion on this very issue - in a post. I already knew the answer to the question but wanted to see how strong this opinion was. All respondents seemed to agree that you must have you own domain name hosted by a full service host to project that vital professional image. Another thing pointed out was that when you use a free host your name will usually be longer than many surfers will be
able to remember or care to type in.

2) Email Address. Free email addresses at some domain names are also considered to be less than professional and also somewhat disreputable. The real problem here is that spammers hide behind phony names at throwaway email addresses. They don't risk losing anything if they have one address closed down because they can just get another one. As a result, many businesses and individuals now have filters setup that send emails from certain domain names directly to the trash.

You are not allowed to register for some products or services using some of these domain names - programmers are blocking them. So if you use some of these services, your email stands even less chance of being read. The free email providers that don't seem to care about spamming from their domain name are fairly obviously from the spam we all receive daily from these domains. I won't name names in the interest of avoiding legal issues.

3) Spamming and bulk email. Email sent randomly to extracted
addresses hurt you more than it help. Bulk email sent to an opt-in list is different and seems to generates sales. However, even here the problem is preventing someone from adding a name/address to the list without their permission. Names improperly added to these opt-in list have caused big headaches for some operators. It all boils down to somebody having a great idea in an effort to make a fast buck. I am a member of several opt in list and can recommend the ones I
like to anyone who wants a personal recommendation. The problem is that the "safe" lists change far too frequently.

4) Hit counters, unrelated icons and other items that slow down the page but contribute nothing significant. Hit counters either show that your pages get very little traffic or they give visitors the impression that you have inflated the count and are therefore untrustworthy. Either way - you loose. instead of a hit counter, I recommend software that tracks hits discretely. I use and recommend WebLog by Darryl Burgdorf. It is cgi script so you do need cgi access at your ISP. You can download this script at It not only tells you how many hits each page has, but where
the visitor came from, how long he stayed, and what other
pages on your site were visited. All things you need to tweek
your site and see how effective your site really is.

Unrelated icons distract from the message on your page and slow it down. Surfers demand speedy loading and will not wait for a slow page to load. They will visit one of the hundreds, perhaps even thousands of other sites that provide similar products or services. My site has a number of good articles on web page do's and don'ts so I won't list them all here. Check out these article at - and watch your traffic explode when you fix some of the more glaring web page defects.

5) The final issue I will mention in this article is offering a needed, somewhat unique product. Marketing is not convincing someone that they need a product that they know they don't need. It is helping them to realize that your product fills a need they have and then prompting them to respond. It is a mixture of emotion and reason, but not changing a prospects mind. When choosing what you will devote your time and effort to offering, choose something that there is a genuine need for and that you really believe in!

I see too many businesses advertising the same products and services as everyone else. This is great if you are presenting your offers to a different audience or have a unique angle -- and if the product or service fills a real need. But if ten individuals offer the same product, to the same prospect, in the same ezine or on the same classified ads site, the prospect has to believe that this is either a very good product, or that particular program is perhaps reaching a certain saturation point. Which is the conclusion that you generally reach?


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Willie Crawford is a well-know internet marketing consultant and writer. His website is filled with articles designed to help you succeed. Visit today!

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