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"The Get-in2 Scoop"-newsline special report
Who's minding the Web store??

Many organizations believe that a web site is something that you buy, pay maintenance fees for, and which subsequently sits on the Internet making you money. This is not true. A web site is not an entity that can stand by itself. It is a link between your business and the outside world. It needs to be supported by a "committed management team" and all the procedures used to run a "brick -n- mortar" business. Amazingly the IWG ( Internet Webmaster Guild) reports that 65 % of all surveyed web site owners have never updated their original sites. Talk about some old content!

If you haven't done so already you should ask yourself the following questions about your own web site:
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Who is responsible for your internet involvement?

Somebody needs to be responsible for ensuring that you have a properly developed web site strategy and it is being followed properly. This person should always be up to date about the company's involvement with the internet and be in a position to talk to any outside companies (e.g. web authors, graphic artists, internet promotion specialists) that you hire.

2. How often is e-mail checked?

Letting potential customers e-mail you is great. letting them fill in forms, so that the responses are e-mailed to you, as well is even better. However, these measures are only as good as the procedures for ensuring that e-mail is picked up and actually read by an appropriate person within a reasonable time.

3. How quickly are inquiries dealt with?

When your web site generates inquiries you need to make sure that you send back a response quickly enough. Even if the response is, "We are looking into it and we'll get back to you in a few days", showing that courtesy is well worth it - and much better than having your web site appearing as though nobody is on the other end of it.

4. How do you assess the success of your site?

You need to be able to evaluate the success of your site. Automatically generated site reports, showing how often the site is hit and which search engines referred people are excellent. Keeping track of the numbers of enquiries and orders generated by your site is a must. Keeping track of the actual revenue generated by your site will help future decision making about investing more resources in your site.

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5. How often do you review your site?

You need to plan for regular reviews of the effectiveness of the site, at prearranged times. That way, you can take advantage of any new opportunities in a timely way and deal with problems before they become a major issue.

6. If on-line ordering is used, what procedures are in place to support it?

If you are taking on-line orders how do you ensure that the products are sent out on time? If credit card payments are accepted on-line how do you ensure that this occurs at an
appropriate time? Are you obeying local laws in this regard? (If there is any appreciable time between debiting a customer's account and sending out the product you may be in trouble).

7. How is your web address being promoted?

Do you take advantage of every single opportunity to promote your web site? Are search engines being used to their full extent? When customer's contact you conventionally, do they find out about your web site? How do you ensure this? Is your web address on EVERYTHING sent out by your company?

8. How is feedback about the site dealt with?

Feedback about your site from visitors may help you to remedy any problems with your site (though anything obvious should have been caught earlier!). You need to make sure that you are clear about how any feedback is dealt with. Having too much feedback to respond will be perceived as unacceptable to visitors. Always replying (even if it is only to thank them for their comments) is advisable. Someone needs to read any feedback and decide what action should be taken.
Not dealing with feedback tells people that you don't care about them or your business.

9. Is it a plan or a pipe dream? ( how many of the 65% had no plan?)

Have you actually planned how to achieve the above, or revised your original plan based on new developments within your industry?  The best advice I can make to busy CEOs is isolate the key staff members, the ones you have committed to implementing your new business plan,  from the rest of your companies day to day activities. If not you'll find they are spending 90% of their time putting out the fires caused by the old business model. If need be, create a separate department or company dedicated to the new thinking to make sure it succeeds.

10. Have you communicated the plan?
Finally, If you have people working for you do they understand the plan? Many of those surveyed didn't even know their URL and often couldn't be reached for comment due to improper e-mail addresses. Success on the web does take constant work!!

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Get-in2 is being remodeled into a more visitor friendly format. New sections are being added to this shopping community which will offer Java Chat, forums, FREE web sites and POP3 E-mail accounts. Our Outlet and FleaMarket sections will allow the smaller merchant a chance to get their "Feet Wet" on a limited budget. More information in our Outlet area.

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