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How To Retain More of Your Visitors
by Said Rouhani

Did you know that most of your visitors probably never go beyond your homepage? And a lot of them leave within ten seconds of hitting your homepage, NEVER to return again? These are wasted visitors, and you must do everything possible to reduce the waste, or you'll simply miss out on a great amount of profits. Luckily, there are a couple of effective tactics you can employ to prevent visitors turning their backs on your site. I've outlined ten of them in this article. The basic strategy is two-fold:

 1) Trying to keep people on your site

 2) Getting them to subscribe to your mailing list. Here we go:

 1. Make it a priority to collect opt-in email addresses Your number one marketing priority on the Web should be to build your opt-in mailing list. This is where most of your customers will come from. And the best thing is, once they're on your list you can sell to them over and over. Include a subscription form for your ezine on EVERY page of your Web site (check out my own site for an example of this - pay attention to the left hand margin).

 2. Put up testimonials Put up a couple of shining testimonials right on your homepage. Interject your homepage copy with a couple of these testimonials. Add the names and email addresses of the persons who wrote the testimonial to boost credibility (ask them first though). Remember: NEVER fake a testimonial! Not only is it unethical, but it'll show through. And if I'm not mistaken, it is also an illegal practice.

 3. Don't link out on your homepage Keep ALL links on your homepage internal. In other words, don't give visitors a way out so they wont leave as soon as they arrive.

 4. Make your headline stand out Your homepage headline should be in large font type, and very attention grabbing, while at the same time hype-free. Study some great sales letters you've come across on the Web. You'll soon realize that one of the things they all have in common is a headline that just makes you WANT to know more about whatever product/service is being offered.

 5. Work on your copy The most powerful selling tool at your disposal are WORDS. You need to get your copy perfectly tight (especially the homepage). This is not an overnight process. It takes several weeks (and even longer) of trial and error to get it right. Check your log files after each change to find out how many people leave your site via your homepage. Make it your mission to reduce this number, until you've hit such "tightness" that you can't get it any better. Take some free online copy writing courses to learn how to improve your copy (I've listed a couple on my site). Whatever you do, write for your TARGET audience!

 6. Don't overwhelm with too many links Keep links to a minimum on your navigation bar - at most nine. In fact, keep links to a minimum all across your site. Don't overwhelm your visitor with too many choices ... gently, but firmly guide them towards your "action pages" (order page, newsletter subscription page, etc.).

 7. Remove banners (from homepage at least) I've removed all banner ads from my Web site. In my opinion they just take up space, make pages load slower, and look rather ugly... without doing any good. You might feel that eliminating banners might be too drastic a move for yourself, but let me ask you this: how often do YOU click on banner ads? Note: Definitely remove banners from your homepage. The job of your homepage is to get visitors interested in your site and explore deeper, not to display banner ads which take visitors away.

 8. Ask for a bookmark Put up a simple attentive graphic that asks people to bookmark your site. You'd be surprised how many people will listen.

 9. Open external links in a new window In your <A HREF> tag, simply put TARGET="new". This will open the link in a new window. When your visitors are done and close that window, they'll return back to your site. The full HTML looks like this: <a href="http://www.anysite.com"; target="new">click here</a> (Note: the contents within TARGET can be anything - doesn't have to be "new").

 10. Use pop-ups on exit This is a technique I've used with great success on my own site. Set up some JavaScript code that opens a pop-up window when a visitor LEAVES your homepage, where you offer a subscription to your ezine. This won't annoy them as an on-entry pop-up would, and will reclaim a lot of visitors that would have just drifted away had it not been for the pop-up. I really recommend you use a cookie to prevent the pop-up window loading for repeat visitors. Go to any JavaScript resource site and you'll find cut-and-paste code you can use on your own site.

 

 

 

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