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80% of your Web site is Maintenance

By Judy Cullins
Posted Friday, December 3, 2004

Once your Web site is up, you must maintain it. Maintenance means changes, and each time you make a change, you may make a mistake. Today, someone pointed out a mistake in an entry that was time-sensitive. If your visitors get a link that doesn't work or incomplete instructions, or if your copy is lackluster instead of passionate, they will delete your site and not bookmark it.

Before you invite folks to see your masterpiece you need to check and correct all parts of your site, and especially the home page.

*Test your headline. You have 4 seconds to get your visitor's attention. Test your title or opening sentence of copy. This one item alone can make a huge difference in the responses you receive. Instead of the wasted words "welcome," put a benefit with a link to either a story about your product or the product itself. When I placed "Quadruple your Web Sales in Just Three Months" with a click here following it, my Web sales increased ten times from the original one, and this is only 3 months time. If your headline doesn't do it, the game is over.

*Test your offer. People perceive more value when you add an incentive to buy. Give them a bonus FREE report or a tips list with the order. It takes little time and effort to create, but it increases sales ten-fold. For the holidays I plan to motivate my visitors with "Holiday Specials" where I will offer a bundle of products at a lower price than the highest one. Test your copy by emailing your preferred audience several choices. Which one would they buy? Emphasize different benefits, try different phrases, power words and metaphors. Appeal to their different senses like smell, touch, emotions and visual.

*Test your price. A price that is too low is as bad as a price too high. Too low a price devalues your product or service. Potential clients or buyers might think, "If it's that cheap, it must not be good." One myth is that eBooks have less value than print books. If your book has information your one particular audience wants, you must price it accordingly. My eBooks are in 8 ½ by 11" format. That means they have twice the information as a regular size book. They can be purchased by regular eMail or put into Portable Document Format.

*Test your copy. Change testimonials or pictures every so often. Redo your opening page and closing page. Instead of "Subscribe to my ezine," put a short testimonial from a famous person in your field right before the "click here" to subscribe. Always give your visitors a reason to buy. Make your copy "you" oriented. Dan Poynter, author of The Self-Publishing Manual, said this about my free monthly ezine "The Book Coach Says... ezine is chock full of useful information - totally worth your time."

Make your Web pages easier to read by using bullets. On my home page I put these questions in bullets:

"Let me help you answer questions about your book" · What are the first steps to writing a great selling book? · Will my book attract my desired audience? · Will my potential buyers think my book is worth the money? · Will my books sell enough copies for my satisfaction? · Now that it's written, how can I best promote my book?

One great test is the size of your paragraphs. In general, keep them short, around 1-4 sentences. Imagine looking at a long line of print before getting to the meat? Discouraged, you would probably leave the page, and possibly the site! Check for passive sentence construction too. Your spell and grammar check gives you those percentages at the end. If your sentences are more than 3-4% passive, you need a professional coach to check your copy.

*Test your site layout. Know where people are entering your site and exiting. Many companies out there can give you this counting service. If potential buyers keep leaving at a particular page before they go to products and ordering page, your words deceive you-and some changes are in order. You can track: where your traffic is coming from, what pages visitors like, what page to the majority of visitors enter and exit, and how long are they there, even which ones signed up for your eNewsletter.

*Test your order process. Ask certain people to run through different parts of your site (show your appreciation by paying them for it with free product or service). Tell them you have a thick skin, and appreciate their honesty. One would-be customer couldn't finish the order for one of my teleclasses. It took a lot of effort to get that mistake rectified with some free product. I know a famous eBook author from which I tried and tried to buy a book. I even emailed him about it. He said he didn't take email orders and sent me back to where the problem was. It's much better to have all links work, so your customers will have an easy ordering experience.

Know that your job of testing never ends. It's what we call maintenance, 80% of life is maintenance! Just experimenting with these tests will bring more sales. Keep testing to know what your potential buyers really want.

About the Author
Judy Cullins: author, publisher, book coach _Ten Non-techie Ways to Market Your Book Online_ ( Subscribe to FREE ezine "The Book Coach Says..." Email:


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