How to make visitors stay on your website

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The problem of how to make visitors stay on website looms large in the solo business community. No matter what your site’s purpose, you need loyal visitors. Capturing and keeping them means ensuring they are so happy nothing can steal them away.

To this day many solo and small business sites are nothing more than an online brochure. Those businesses wanting to get online in a hurry simply transform their printed brochure into a HTML document and place it on the web.

But if you’re reusing words or pictures from another source and not adding considerable value by offering them online,  what is the motivation for people to visit and, more importantly, stick around?

Here are some fundamentals which will help you retain visitors.

Make it easy for people to get in touch with you

There’s nothing worse than arriving on a site and not being able to find any contact details. Let your visitors choose how they want to make contact. Provide your phone and fax number, postal and email address and a fill-in enquiry form.

News, newsletters and articles

Should you have real news that people care about, communicate it on your site. If you do, they will come. But getting your news live quickly enough to make the web faster than traditional distribution means having a content management process in place that makes this a reality.

Another way you can involve your readers on a regular basis is to offer a newsletter. Write a regular article on themes related to your site  and email it to your database to keep in contact. For example a bicycle shop could offer a newsletter containing cycling articles.

Online forum

You can keep people coming back to your site by using a bulletin board or forum. The beauty of a forum is that your visitors create your content. However, in order for this to work you must have enough traffic. One way to encourage participation is to announce, on your site and in your newsletter, a specific period when there’ll be discussion on a given topic. This is a good way to tie together your news and forum to sustain interest in your site.

Offer online customer service

Enabling customer service online is perhaps the single most effective way to making your site valuable and the 24/7 nature of the web makes it possible. The challenge is to utilise technology to make your online customer service better than your phone or offline service. Personalisation, quick responses, verification and database-driven problem solving are all examples that can be used on your site to improve service.

Blog or Q&A column

You're an expert on something, that's why you have your website! Start a question & answers column on the site, let your visitors send in their questions and you can give the answers. Award a prize to the person who sends in the best question of the month. It will help you to generate some useful and new content for your site and also let you know what your visitors are thinking.

Melissa Norfolk is an Internet expert who speaks to business, school and community groups about online marketing, email newsletters, effective use of the Internet, finding what you need online and Internet safety.

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