Posted Friday, November 19, 2004
HTML is great. But what really makes your site super powerful? The Backend or the processes running in the background that make everything on your website really click. And what powers the backend? CGI Scripts.
Some of you may know what CGI scripts are and others may not. CGI scripts are the key to creating interactive websites that automate your online business. Instead of getting too technical about scripts, lets talk about 5 powerful CGI scripts that every website should have if they have any desire to conduct E-commerce.
Number 1: First off, you must have forms on your website. You should be utilizing forms for everything including retrieving demographic information from your visitors to processing credit card orders. You can also use forms to send contact information so that your visitors do not have to use email to contact you. The beauty of forms is that not only can you retrieve the information you request, you can also include hidden fields to be submitted with each form so that you know certain information like what website the visitor came from, their IP address (useful for fraud protection) and much more. Some form scripts even let you send autoresponses to the submitter. So, for example if someone fills in a form to sign up for a newsletter, you can send them an automated reply thanking them for their submission and including basically anything you want without having to lift a finger.
Number 2: The next script every site should be using is a "recommend it" script. This is a script that allows your site visitors to recommend your site to their friends and contacts. Do not underestimate the power of this little tool. The recommend it script on our site at (http://www.goldbar.net/recomm.html) brings in tons of traffic and prospects that we may never have gotten on our own. The power of referrals should never, ever be underestimated. It is far more effective to have someone recommend your site to their contacts then it is to advertise. I use the Master Recommend script from William Bontrager, available for free at: (http://www.willmaster.com)
Number 3: Affiliate Software. Without a doubt, one of the best investments you can ever make if you have your own product or service is in affiliate software. While usually not cheap it is by far one of the best methods of growing traffic to your site and exploding your sales. Many people advocate using a 3rd party affiliate company such as Commission Junction to manage their affilate programs. This is fine if you are a big company with a huge budget to WASTE on administrative fees and obscure technical charges. But, if you are a small to midsized company and you want to utilize the awesome power of a strictly commissioned salesforce sending you traffic and sales, you would be crazy to not consider purchasing affiliate software and installing it on your own site (or having it installed for you). Some affiliate scripts are so advanced that you can click one button on the administrative interface and send all the months commissions to a check writing program and have the checks printed out and all you will have to do is sign them.
Number 4: Follow Up Autoresponders: Without a doubt, everyone should be using automated follow up mechanisms to:
A. Capture the email addresses of targeted prospects interested in your products/services.
B. Send a series of sequential, timed messages that trigger return visits to your website and turn potential onetime website visitors into return prospects.
c. Remind customers about additional products and services that they may wish to order in the future or add to their current order.
These are easy to maintain once they are installed on your site. All you have to do is write the email responses you want your prospects to receive and then upload them to your server. Then tell the script how long a time interval to wait before sending the next message in the sequence.
An important point when using follow up autoresponders: make sure they offer an unsubscribe feature so that the recipients can opt out if they choose to.
There are many great scripts out there that you can install on your own site. This will save you the monthly fees of using a hosted service but if you choose to use a third party tool, probably the best one is available from getresponse: (http://www.getresponse.com/?13323)
Number 5: An error catcher. This may sound like a crazy tool to include in this list but bear with me. How many of you have tried to click on a link and found yourself on a 404 error page. Most web surfers who encounter this error immediately leave your site never to return again.This is probably the worst thing that could happen to an internet business. What if you could create a page that said, OOPS you reached this page in error but why not visit the rest of the site? This is certainly more enticing and if created properly can help keep a surfer on your site as opposed to off it. On our site, we use a script that catches errors and delivers a webpage apologizing for the mistake and offering other links to pages on our site. We have saved many visitors this way and we have also created many subscribers and customers through this method. If you want to see how it works, try this link (http://www.goldbar.net/mistake.html)
The script we used to create these pages is freely available and can be set to email you when someone reaches a 404 page and also help you determine if anyone is trying to hack into your site or if a CGI script is not working. It is called errorbot.cgi and can be found at (http://www.perlarchive.com)
These 5 scripts can make or break an internet business so why dont more people use them? I believe they don't have a clue how to install them. If anyone wishes to have CGI scripts on their site but needs help installing them, you can usually get help from the programmer or visit a site like (http://www.cgiguru.com) who will usually install scripts for a nominal fee.
CGI scripts have been around since the advent of commerce on the internet and continue to power the best sites. Even with new technologies such as ASP, Cold Fusion and PHP on the rise, CGI is the oldest and still the best. Why not get these 5 scripts running on your website and start powering your way to new profits.
About the Author
Marc Goldman, Goldbar Enterprises Discover the exclusive members only website that will easily explode your traffic and increase your sales by thousands of dollars!! (http://www.goldbar.net/yoap/d.cgi?index-27)