What’s a Website Made of?

If you grew up before the computer age than no doubt like me you resisted
the PC for a while. I was forced to learn the PC on the job as some of
our paper-based processes became electronic. It was required so therefore
I learned. I started with programs like Ventura publishing and Lotus
123. In time, I became hooked. When the Internet arrived I was very excited
to discover what was available online.

I think everybody in business that is serious about his or her business
needs to have a Website in order to be successful. It demonstrates that
you are forward thinking and embrace technology.

If you’re looking for success with your website, the best place
to start is with an understanding of the composition of your Website.

These are the top 10 attributes a Website is:

1. A Website is made up of computer code.

That’s right. All of those pretty pictures and pages of information are
really just a bunch of computer code. It’s written by a programmer. They
call themselves Web designers, but their talent is in their ability to
program your wishes. They know the code, and know how to write it so
it presents that pretty picture you want on your homepage. HTML, XML,
whatever; it’s all computer code.

2. A Website is meant to convey information.

I don’t care if you developed your site to talk about your moss collection,
or if you just want to start a club for left-handed bowlers, everything
you put on your Website is put there to tell others something. Reports
overwhelmingly show that the majority of people using the Internet
do so to get information — not to look at the pretty pictures. The
information part of your Website sets you apart from your competition
because it ttells visitors something they didn’t know before they saw
you.

3. A Website is dynamic, but it can’t sell anything.

All the graphics and flash and loud colors can’t really sell your product
or service. You need a good salesperson. Your Website exists to inform
visitors that you are in business and that you are technologically
current. It provides an easy way for them to order, but it needs backup:
software that handles secure orders and real customer service. Like
your print advertising, it presents your products and services. It’s
up to you to sell them.

4. A Website is cost-effective advertising.

A Website attracts more attention and more visibility just by virtue
of its presence on the World Wide Web than almost anything else. Print
ads reach hundreds of thousands, but who really reads them? Radio and
television have the potential to reach millions but only work on a
repetitive basis, and show it in their cost. The Web is more than 400
million strong, and growing by leaps and bounds every day. That’s 400
million possibilities. Sometimes for less than $1,000. Great return
on investment.

5. A Website is targeted marketing.

People go online looking for something; looking for you if you’ve marketed
yourself properly. Online shoppers know what they want, they don’t
browse online the way they would in a Kmart. A Website brings targeted
customers to your homepage using well thought out keywords and phrases.
If I’m searching online for a new, educational toy for my niece, do
you think I type “toys” in my search field? Not unless I
want to wade through literally millions of options. I type in: “learning
toys”, or “educational toys.” If you can help me, learning
and education better be two of your main keywords. Beyond keywords
and phrases, there are banner ads and e-mail campaigns. All targeted
to the market you are selling to.

6. A Website is business 24×7.

Make no mistake — the Internet is changing the way we do business. Customers
that need your product or service don’t want to run to the mall anymore.
After eight or 10 hours at their day job, they want convenience. According
to eMarketer, the number of people 14 and over who have purchased something
online will grow from 64.1 million in 2000 to more than 100 million
by 2003. You know they’re not all shopping from 8 to 5, don’t you?
People today research online before buying offline, too. Your Website
can bring you customers all day, every day.

7. A Website is interactive.

When you developed your Website, you sat down with a good Web designer
and discussed your company mission and goals. Then you gave him or her
your current brochure to follow, but did you think to approach your site
from the customer’s point of view? In the old days, the customer came
into your store and interacted with you or your salespeople, helping
you decide what worked and what
didn’t. Grokdotcom.com recently quoted successful marketer Roy Williams
(www.wizardofads.com) saying: “When you’re inside the bottle, it’s
hard to read the label.” You are inside the bottle. Your customers
are reading the label. Ask them for help making your Web site work. Offer
incentives in return for information (think newsletters and surveys —
people love to tell you what you’re doing right or wrong).

8. A Website is a dynamic representation of you.

That’s right. I said, you; not your business, not your store. When a
visitor ends up at your Web site (after actively searching for your
products or services, I hope) what she or he is looking at is a reflection
of you, the owner of the company, the business person, the person in
charge. If you have broken links preventing visitors from getting around
your site, it reflects poor maintenance. If you’re unkempt, with poor
design and development, it reflects sloppiness. If your type is too
small or graphics too big it reflects insensitivity. Pay attention.
Comb your hair (keep your Web site fresh); wear a suit once in awhile
(dress your Website up with colors that compliment each other); and
smile (make sure you welcome your visitors and offer them incentives
to return).

9. A Website is original, but it’s not unique anymore.

According to the Online Computer Library Center (www.oclc.org) there
are 8.1 million public Web sites, up from 7.4 million last year. Don’t
try to compete in this new world of business by trying to corner the
market. Be professional and original, but don’t sweat it if you want
to sell widgets and 50 other sites are selling them, too. Think partnership;
the success of the new millennium is in partnering. Links to other
sites that compliment your site are great ways to get noticed by both
search engines and customers.

10. A Website is only what you make of it.

That means updates, fresh content, personalization, ease of use and marketing.
Slapping up a few pages of HTML and some graphics might get you a Website,
but it won’t get you attention. Telling friends and family you have
a presence online at www.meandmine.com means nothing. Your friends
and family are not going to buy enough of your products to support
you. Do the right thing. Build it professionally, maintain it and market
it just as aggressively as if it were a brand new store in the heart
of downtown America.

Now, who needs a Website? You need one. Whether you’re 60 and have been
in business for two generations without computers, or whether you’re
a first time business owner and you don’t anticipate generating sales
from online contacts, you still need a Website. Why? Because it’s here
and it’s now. If you are not willing to accommodate those of us who want
to find you online, you are not willing to make your business a success.

Just for laughs, jump online after you read this and do a Google search
for “funeral directors.” Last time I checked, the count was
300,000. Do a quick Yahoo! search on “dentists.” You will be
rewarded with 1,740,000 sites — many of which are directories. If funeral
directors and dentists are online, you should be online, too.

Net Users and E-Mail Marketing in Canada

A 2002 study from Ipsos-Reid finds that 79%
of internet users in Canada have opted-in to certain websites to receive
e-mail campaigns. The study also determined that overall, 92% of internet
users in Canada use e-mail on a regular basis and 88% use it on a weekly
basis.

Ipsos-Reid surveyed 1,000 Canadian internet users online and conducted
1,000 telephone interviews for the “Email Marketing: What the Future Holds”
report. The online surveys were conducted between 28 December 2001 and
January 2002 and the telephone surveys were conducted between 10 and 23
December 2001. The report notes that, in particular, 54% of internet users
who have opted into e-mail campaigns turn to news and information websites
and 38% opt-in to entertainment sites.

To put the Ipsos numbers into greater perspective, eMarketer’s latest
North America Online Report presents estimates from different firms
regarding internet users in Canada. Though Telecordia Technologies believes
there were 24.5 million users in 2001, eMarketer believes there will be
16 million internet users in Canada in 2002.

Kids Say the Net is the Darndest Thing

According to a study from Knowledge Networks/Statistical Research (KN/SRI),
one-third of children ages 8 to 17 say the internet is the medium they
would choose if they could only have one, topping television, telephone
and radio. For boys, television was a strong second choice, though girls
ranked TV third behind the net and telephone.

Browsing the eMarketer eStat Database‘s Demographics section turns
up hundreds of records on children and teenagers, including a December
2001 study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser found that while
the overwhelming majority of the 15 to 24 age bracket has gone online
and has home internet access, this was especially pronounced for respondents
under age 17.

The Internet is Shaping the Way in Which Canadian Families Live and Work Together

RBC Study Examines the Internet’s Impact on Canadian Families and Small Business Owners

An RBC Financial Group/Ipsos Reid study released today suggests that Canadian families
are making major lifestyle changes in response to the wave of new communications
technologies entering their homes.

The survey, conducted by Ipsos-Reid for RBC, was designed
to achieve an understanding of how families and small business owners
are balancing the new demands and opportunities of home and work life
in the context of technological change.

“The personal computer has become the nerve centre
of the new online home,” said Martin Stevens, director, eCommerce at RBC
Financial Group. “The PC and the Internet are redefining how Canadians
approach many aspects of their lives including shopping, banking, commuting,
family activities, home design and communications.”

In fact, Canadian online families have become so enamored
with the versatility of their PCs that the majority (51 per cent) would
choose it over a telephone or television if stuck on a deserted island.
And it’s not just the adults that find it handy. With the average family
spending more than 32 hours online per week, more than 40 per cent of
parents said they have had to negotiate with their kids to get on the
computer.

Canadian families have also discovered that surfing
the Internet is a good way to spend time together, with 39 per cent of
parents saying they sometimes go online with their kids, and 12 per cent
saying they always go online with their kids. That’s probably a good thing
given that 56 per cent of parents admit that they have learned at least
some of what they know about the Internet from their children.

Survey Highlights

  • Almost half of Canadian Internet-using families
    have more than one computer.
  • The average family spends more than 1,600 hours
    online per year (more than 32 hours per week).
  • 59 per cent of adults with a home Internet connection
    have purchased an item directly online.
  • 57 per cent of parents have guidelines about how
    and when the computer is to be used; 48 per cent say they place curfews
    on their kids’ Internet usage.
  • 20 per cent of all families with home Internet
    access have computers that have been networked to others within the
    home.
  • 48% of parents admit their kids have at least some
    influence on the purchase of new technology for the household.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what would
you take with you? The survey of 750 online parents with children under
18 living at home shows that Canadian families even seem to prefer surfing
the Internet to channel surfing. Half of respondents (51per cent) said
that if stuck on a deserted island for a month they would prefer to have
a computer with Internet access rather than a television – with only 21
per cent choosing a telephone and 12 per cent choosing a television.

The New Online Family

Parents are finding that as there are more and more
things for their kids to do on the computer and online, they are having
to create new rules and restrictions for how and when their kids use the
computer. Over half of parents (57 per cent) have guidelines about when
and how the computer is to be used and 48 per cent say they place time
limits or curfews on their kids’ Internet usage. 41 per cent say that
they have had to negotiate computer or Internet time in the household.

When it comes to learning about technology, some parents
(48 per cent) find that they are ahead of their kids while others (56
per cent) admit that they have learned at least some of what they know
about the Internet from their children.

The New Online Home

Canadian families are finding that new technology
has affected not only their family relationships, but how their homes
are set up to accommodate new technologies. Just over one-in-three parents
(37 per cent) say that they have redesigned, reconfigured or renovated
a portion of their living space to accommodate their computer(s).

Home area networks (HANs) have also become much more
prevalent with 43 per cent of families with two more computers in the
home having turned to networking the PCs together, in order to share peripherals
such as a colour printer, a scanner or high-speed Internet connection.

Balancing Work and Family in the Online Household

The growth of the Internet and the emergence of new
technologies has made the balance between work and family life much easier
for many Canadian families. 72 per cent of the parents surveyed agreed
that telecommuting allows them to spend more time with their family.

Many household chores that used to require leaving
the house can now be done online. Over half of parents with a home Internet
connection have purchased an item directly online (59 per cent) and 57
per cent have conducted online banking transactions. Over half of parents
(58 per cent) also agree that banking or shopping online has allowed them
to spend more time at home with their kids.

For more detailed survey results, please visit: www.rbc.com/newsroom

According to an October 2001 Canadian Marketing Association (CMA)
report, conducted by IBM Canada, 86% of large companies in Canada have expanded their presence online in the past year. The CMA also found that 80% of medium-sized companies
have expanded online and 65% of small companies have done the same. What
kind of online marketing initiatives have companies used? Banners and
interstitials and e-mail marketing are the most common e-marketing applications
for all businesses.

The CMA surveyed 452 member and non-member small, medium and large companies.
It found that the greatest impediments companies faced in developing customer
relationship management (CRM) solutions were internal company views (45%)
and lack of funding (42%).

The survey also determined that 25% of companies do not track their performance
online, hence, there is significant opportunity for marketing online in
Canada.

To put the CMA percentages into perspective in terms of ad spending in
Canada, eMarketer’s Online Advertising Report presents data from
different research firms. Though Forrester believes total spending in
2001 will hit $101 million, eMarketer predicts it will be even larger
at $145.8 million.