Online business owners are mostly facing the wrong way. They are all looking at the technological solutions to improving their business. You will find that several Internet marketing experts will tell you that the “secret” is in analytics – knowing exactly which pages your visitors go to, the route they travel through your site and so on.
Other “experts” will tell you that, yes, analytics are important, but the real “secret” is in eye tracking – knowing where your users actually go on your pages. Once you know that you can design things to match what they do.
But you will also find “gurus” telling you that you do not need to spend money on eye tracking or go in for complicated analytics. All you need to do, they say, is focus on the copy; write right, they say and all your troubles will be resolved.
Everybody, it seems has a “secret” to online success. Well guess what – they are all right. Yes, you do need analytics to see what is happening with your site, yes eye tracking will help you and copywriting is an essential component of a web site. Yet in spite of them all being right, none of these are actually “secrets” to running an online business.
The problem with them all is that they are largely focused on the technology and what people do with it. But what people “do” is not an indication of how they actually connect with your business and your products and services. For instance, a retail store needs to know where shoppers go in their shop – footflow it’s called. But knowing where they go, does not tell the retailer what people actually want to buy and why they want to buy it. So, footflow is only one component in a retailer’s box of tricks.
One of the most common ways in which retailers discover what to sell and how to sell it is using market research surveys and focus groups – in other words, traditional businesses focus their attention on talking directly to customers and understanding them and their motivations.
Online, businesses are focusing on the technology. It would be like a supermarket deciding on what to sell based solely on footflow analysis. So, what is the “secret” of an online business? It’s the “secret” already known by the offline world – talk to your customers. Technology will help support what you do, true enough, but far too many people believe it is the answer to their failure to thrive online. Talk to your customers with market research, surveys, focus groups and so on. Do that and you will be able to organise your online business to meet the needs of your customers.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+