Week of December 04, 2000


IN THIS EDITION


SPONSORS

  • Advertise Your Site for Free!
  • A Snapshot of Online Shopping
  • Write Right for Better Results
  • Meet Lycos
  • Site of the Week


  • Advertise Your Site for Free!

    The holiday season for e-commerce sites often means two important things:

    • A need for increased traffic and promotions
    • Tight budgets due to the expensive tastes of loved ones
    With an overall increase of online traffic and shopping this year, there has never been a better time to advertise your site for free with BannerExchange.

    BannerExchange is an easy-to-use service that brings visitors to your Web site. You can display your ad banner on thousands of Web sites around the world for FREE in exchange for advertising space on your site. BannerExchange is the most cost-effective tool for promoting your site and attracting customers.

    Learn more and sign up (after all, its free): http://bannerexchange.mycomputer.com



    A Snapshot of Online Shopping

    As the holiday shopping season officially kicks off, Simmons Market Research Bureau (http://www.smrb.com) is telling e-tailers just who is most likely to be shopping online and which offline media channels will best reach them.

    After polling 33,000 adults across the U.S., SMRB offered this look at the consumer group that is driving e-commerce today:

    • There's a 65 percent increase in the number of people who are shopping online over those that shopped online last year.
    • Men are still more likely to shop online than women, but the gap is closing. This year, 51 percent of Web shoppers were male and 49 percent female (compared to 55 percent and 45 percent respectively in 1999).
    • More than half of online shoppers are between the ages of 25 and 44, with the heaviest concentration among 25-34 year olds. But, the profile of Web shoppers may be going more mainstream, as is evidenced by the fact that a growing number of 18-24 year olds have made Internet purchases so far this year.
    • More than three-quarters of online shoppers have some college education. They are also more likely to hold managerial or professional positions.
    • Clearly half of all Web shoppers (over 9 million people) are self-proclaimed impulse buyers.
    • In addition to buying goods online, these consumers use the Internet as a lifeline. They're more likely than other consumers to:
      - bank online (23 percent vs. 2 percent)
      - chat online (16 percent vs. 5 percent)
      - send e-mail (88 percent vs. 27 percent)
      - trade stock online (28 percent vs. 5 percent)
    • Online buyers mimic the U.S. population in regard to the department, clothing and children stores that they frequent.
    • This consumer group tends to rely more heavily on magazines to stay informed.
    • Online shoppers also tune into late night network fringe television shows, science fiction and prime-time animation programming. Cable favorites include: E!, Entertainment TV, Comedy Central, VH-1 and Sci-Fi Channel.



    Write Right for Better Results
    by Tim North

    Selling something on your Web site? Here are 10 tips on how to write to get the very best response from your visitors.

    1. Start by choosing a single benefit of your product or service that you wish to highlight above everything else. This is your "principle selling position" or PSP. To choose this, ask yourself what specific benefit makes your product or service different, better, or special. Is it the price? the convenience? the reliability?
    2. Write attention-grabbing headlines. This is very important. People are overloaded with information, so they skim read, particularly on the Internet. If your headline doesn't get their attention everything else is probably wasted because it won't be read. Your headline will often be based around your PSP.
    3. Write a list of all the features of your product or service, then translate each of these into a benefit for the customer. One way to do this is to look at each feature in turn, then ask yourself "So what?" Imagine you're a customer; why should you care about this feature? Ask "What will it do for me?" For example, don't just say that you product is fast (a feature); tell the customer that it will give them more free time (a benefit). Better still, paint a picture of them using their free time to go to the beach, read a book, or relax.
    4. Write copy that emphasizes the benefits in a way that makes an emotional connection. For example, let's say you're selling toothpaste. A feature might be that it contains fluoride. Sure, but that's boring. Rather, say it "Lessens Tooth Decay!" or even better: "Brush with Boffo and Avoid the Dentist's Drill!" See? You've turned a dull feature into a strong emotional benefit linked to people's fear of dental procedures. Isn't that more effective than "Contains fluoride"?
    5. Start with your strongest selling points. The first few paragraphs are particularly important. Use them to create a desire for your product or service by briefly touching on the major benefits it will bring the customer. You don't have to go into too much detail up front; you can expand on these benefits later. Do try to get your big guns in early, though.
    6. Testimonials sell. Good, believable testimonials from real people will help sales, particularly on the Web where establishing credibility is a tough job. For even better credibility, ask your testimonial writers if you can include their contact details along with their testimonial.
    7. Write with a natural style. Don't try to be pretentious or over friendly. Just write it the way you'd say it.
    8. Decide who you're writing for and why. What tone are you trying to convey: light hearted? serious? What level of jargon are you going to employ? Suit your language to your intended audience.
    9. The final sales pitch, when it comes, must have three specific parts:
      - It must incorporate a good deal; e.g. "40% off!"
      - It must be urgent; e.g. "Only seven more days!"
      - It must be risk free; e.g. "Backed by a 90-day,
      no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee!"
    10. End by telling the reader what to do; such as: "Call now" or "Click here to order now for immediate delivery!" Needless to say, ordering details must be clearly visible and simple to follow.
    Tim North (info@betterwritingskills.com) is the author of "Better Writing Skills" -- an easy-to-understand, jargon-free, downloadable book that can give you a competitive edge. You can DOWNLOAD A FREE CHAPTER that's full of useful hints and tips from http://www.betterwritingskills.com.



    Meet Lycos

    Search engine help from Bret Jackson,
    Product Manager, SubmitWizard

    Lycos began in 1994 as a Carnegie-Mellon-developed Web crawler and search engine, but it has evolved into an Internet portal with more than a dozen affiliated sites and approximately 7 million visitors a day.

    Lycos lets visitors search by category or search query. Searchers get several kinds of results immediately, such as popular results, so you can know which sites other users visited when looking for the same thing; and in addition, Web site matches, related news articles, and related shopping links.

    Lycos will index your site's visible text and image alt text, but will not index frames, imagemaps or meta tags. If you're trying to optimize your site for Lycos, you should concentrate on developing strategic keywords. Keywords are the words you think people will use when searching for your site. Each page in your site should have different keywords that reflect that page's content.

    Where you place your keywords is important for Lycos submissions. The title of each of your site's pages is most important. The keywords should also appear high on the page, for example, in the first paragraphs of text on your page. The content on your page should be relevant to your keywords.

    The number of sites that have links pointing to your site will play an important role in getting a high ranking with Lycos. Lycos keeps track of how often searchers select your site. The more often your site is chosen, the higher the ranking you'll receive.



    Submit Your Site to Lycos and Hundreds of Other Search Engines

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    Site of the Week

    Travel With Your Favorite Team
    http://www.sportstraveler.net

    Site owner Anbritt Stengele saw a need and decided to fill it:

    "About a year ago, for my birthday, I decided that I really wanted to see a Dallas Cowboys game in person. The team was playing in Indianapolis and I set out on a search for a hotel package with good seats--but couldn't find one. After a very long search on the Web and many long distance phone calls, I gave up only to learn later that there was a hotel across the street from the stadium that had a great package. So I said to myself--there should be a Web site just for fans like me searching for sports travel packages. And now there is. My site, Sports Traveler.Net is a sports travel directory for all types of sports packages and sports vacations."

    Tickets and accommodations for fans of almost all major sports are listed on Sports Traveler.Net. Anbritt uses several tools to keep his site in top shape:

    "I found MyComputer.Com purely by accident while surfing the web in search of ways to promote my site. My business currently uses 4 services: SiteMiner, SuperStats, SiteMechanic and BannerExchange. I have been truly impressed with the professional quality of everything found within the MyComputer.com site. I am especially happy with SuperStats. It is a great resource that I find to be clearly organized and it's easy for me to use. It is also a great market-tracking tool that I use to find out where my traffic is coming from and what keywords and search engines are bringing visitors to my site. This service is by far the most in depth research source I have ever seen. Thank you for providing so many services that the rest of us really need."



    How Would You Like Half a Million people to learn about your Site This Week?

    Enter your site in the Network News Site of the Week!

    Take a chance on having your site visited by the 500,000+ subscribers of Network News.

    Simply submit your URL, and tell us about your site. Include information such as:

    • How long have you had a web presence?
    • For what purpose did you set up your web site?
    • Does your Web site meet your expectations (with regards to traffic, information, navigation, company awareness, customer service, e-commerce, etc.)?
    • How do you measure your site's effectiveness?
    • Is your site managed (updated) internally, or do you use an outside vendor?
    • What problems do you encounter (on a regular basis) with your Web site?
    • If your site is not all that you'd like it to be, what areas are lacking?
    • Does e-commerce play an important role?
    • Which MyComputer.com tools do you use?
    • Why did you start to use them?
    • What results have you had with the tools?
    Each week we'll be selecting a site to feature in our newsletter.
    Send your information to editor@mycomputer.com.



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