That Left-Hand Side: Turning Your Website Into a Potent Sales Machine
2000 Harmony Major

Only a few of the millions of business websites online actually generate a *consistent* profit. There's one critical thing that nearly all of these websites have in common, which is how they use their upper left-hand corner. Are you using YOURS correctly? I hate to sound cynical, but probably not.

The following methodology will help YOUR website generate a consistent profit by putting its left-hand side to use:

  1. Define your main goal.

    What do you want your website to do? It can do several things at once, (i.e. build your subscriber list, build your credibility, get the sale, etc.), but there should be ONE thing that you want it to do above all others. What is that one thing?

    With business owners, this can prove to be a difficult decision to make. For instance, I want all of my websites to do several things. Get subscribers and sales, build my credibility, and increase my publicity. However, I have several sites, and each one of those accomplishes a different task on its home page.

    It's alright for your site to have several goals, but make sure you know what the PRIMARY goal is, so you can apply that to this next step.


  2. Make sure the top left corner of your home page is ONLY used to achieve that primary goal.

    After you've defined your main goal above, your job is now to be sure that your website is streamlined to accomplish that goal. And, not only your website, but more importantly, the upper left corner of the first fold. (The "first fold" is the part of a Web page that a visitor sees before having to scroll.)

    You should NOT have a logo taking up that space -- unless your site is designed for branding purposes. But, most small business sites don't have the budget to drive people to their websites to build a brand name.

    You should NOT have a huge portrait of yourself taking up that space -- unless your site's main goal is to show the world how beautiful you are, and how well-suited you'd be for somebody's runway. ;-) Now, make no mistake -- having your picture on a business site is certainly a good thing. Even so, you don't want it to be the main focus of your website. But more on that later.


  3. Review examples of exceptional sales sites.

    Learn by example. A few sites I've come across that have their goals clearly-defined on the front page are:

    1. Bizpromo Internet Marketing Center: http://bizpromo.com

      Notice the subscribe form prominently displayed in the upper left corner of the home page. This site's main goal seems to be to sign up as many ezine subscribers as possible. And, if you'll take a minute to browse through the site, you'll notice that this subscribe form is on the top left of EVERY page. In this case, Terry Dean is using his newsletter list as his own personal sales machine. His subscribers are his prospects, who may later become customers.

    2. BizWeb2000: http://www.bizweb2000.com

      Judging by the links in the top left corner of this site, its main goal is to help the webmaster build rapport and credibility with visitors. Then, the search box is to drive people deeper into the site. But, this "credibility" goal ties into something bigger -- getting sales. The credibility goal is to get customers in a buying mood, to trust Jim Daniels and his accomplishments, and to eventually lead them to the sale.

    3. What's Next Online: http://whatsnextonline.com

      This is one system that I personally love. The focus of this site is SO clear, I have a hard time believing that this isn't one of the most successful sites on the Web. It states the goal up front and immediately -- "Want to sell the pants off your competitors?" WOW. Go to this site and check out B.L. Ochman's goal statement, which is actually presented right on the page, after that goal.

      First, she draws you in with a question. If you relate to that question and want to learn more, she tells you straight out to "come on in," and "let's get to work." Her picture on the right side of the page is to start building credibility, and you'll notice that her navigational system is ALSO on the right. Which leads me to the next point...


  4. Don't be afraid to break from the norm.

    Sure, most Web visitors are "used" to seeing the navigational system on the left side of a page. But is that really the best place for it? Does it HAVE to be there? Would you achieve better results with that list on another part of your page? It depends on your website's main goal and how your navigational column is structured. But, in this case, there's no reason to conform to "the norm" unless this standard method of site design is helping YOU achieve your site's main goal.

    Unless you want navigation to be your visitors first thoughts, move that to the RIGHT side, or even the top and bottom of your site. What is the first thing you want your visitors do to? Pay attention to the message you have in your top left corner, or lose focus, clicking away from that all important home page to less goal-oriented pages of the rest of your site? Or worse, click away to ANOTHER site? If you don't want either of these, you may want to think about using an "unconventional" system of navigation.


  5. Get help making your site achieve that primary goal. I've done enough talking about it. Now is the time to SHOW you how to create an effective business site of your own. What do you want your site to do?

    1. Increase credibility and perception of your website, and YOU.

      In this case, it IS a good idea to post your picture on the left-hand side of your home page. NOT a huge picture, (because you'll need that first fold for other important things), but a small, pleasant head shot will do the trick. Then, either have a blurb about how you or your site can help your visitor accomplish what they came to do. See <http://HomeBasedHeaven.com> for an example of a site designed to increase credibility and perception of the site.

    2. Get more subscribers.

      If this is the main goal of your website, you want to have an enticing description for your ezine(s) and a subscribe form in the top left corner of your home page. Again, have a look at <http://BizPromo.com>. If you only have one ezine like Terry Dean does here, you have an advantage. You can use a small subscribe form, and use the rest of the left side of the first fold to introduce any free subscription bonuses you offer, like a bulleted list of benefits of a free e-book.

    3. Get the sale on the first visit.

      Granted, getting your visitors to buy on their first visit can be difficult. But that isn't to say that you shouldn't do everything you can to increase the likelihood of getting that sale! For example, check out the Online Marketing Letter website at: <http://activemarketplace.com/w.cgi?mizel_codes-10287> You'll notice that this site doesn't even HAVE a navigational system. Why? The owners want you to go in only ONE direction -- to the order form.

      You'll also notice that most sales sites don't really have a dominant left-hand corner. Instead, the entire first fold is the most important part of the page, and is used to draw visitors further into the site. They do this by having powerful headlines, and usually powerful, summary bullet points to introduce the product.

      For more information on writing headlines that sell, go to <http://BizProfitBuilder.com/headlines.html> and get "Great Headlines Instantly, by Robert Boduch. AWESOME product!


    Well, there you have it. I hope the examples in this article have helped get your mind working on how YOU can create a website that really sells. If you're an *advanced* webmaster of a business or marketing related site, please feel free to e-mail me at <MissH@SiteSellingPower.com> to ask quick questions about this article, or your website. (NOTE: Newbie and intermediate webmasters, please post your questions to the forum instead, at: <http://ExpertOnEbiz.com/bbs/>).

    Good luck. Now go out there and use that left-hand side!


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Harmony Major is the author of Yahoo! Secrets, where she reveals how YOU can drive HUNDREDS more visitors to your site each day, by getting a #1 listing on Yahoo. Don't just settle for "getting listed." Use her instantly-effective tactics to boost your site traffic with a TOP Yahoo listing! Visit: http://YahooSecrets.com




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