"Overload Beware"

by Jim Daniels

The Net is a great place to learn about anything from aardvarks to zucchini. And while this information superhighway creates a great opportunity to discover new things, it comes as a bit of a double-edged sword. From day one it was inevitable that "Information Overload" would creep into the equation, and it has.

People are simply bombarded with information and too much of a good thing can be bad. This trend will continue to grow, and if you're doing business on the web you need consider solutions. Not only for your own peace of mind, but for your customers.

Here are some tips that will help you to:

1. Locate information quickly on the web and in your email.

2. Make your website a safe haven for frazzled web surfers.

3. Make sure your ezine is one that gets read.

Locating Key Information:

When searching the web, use effective search engines.

For example, meta engines search multiple search engines at once so you do not have to bounce from engine to engine. I use the multi-search engine Dogpile so much I posted a search tool at my site. It is ideal for finding things in a hurry.

Use your email program as a powerful archive.

This is as simple as saving every email message you ever send. A program like Eudora is ideal for this. Simply create a mailbox called outgoing archive and rather than deleting old outgoing messages, transfer them all to this mailbox. People are amazed when you "recall" conversations you had with them years before. What you're really doing is using the powerful search tools that scan years of old messages in seconds. You can find conversations, old passwords, business deals and any other detail in just seconds.

Make Your Website a Safe Haven for Frazzled Surfers:

At your website...

Tell your visitors why they should stay, as soon as they arrive!

Don't make your visitors guess what your site will do for them. Prominently display a reason for them to stick around. Most successful sites go as far describing their site content right in their URL, so visitors know what to expect BEFORE they get to the site. If your URL doesn't do that, consider getting a few domains that do, then redirect them to your main site. Try my domain wizard if you're looking for a great new domain name or two.

Once your visitor has arrived, get them to the most popular areas of your site without delay. You have less than 20 seconds to make an impression. Most visitors will be gone if they have not found something of value within that time frame.

Ask for a visitors email address as soon as they arrive.

The very next thing you should do is ask visitors for their email address. They'll love you for giving them a way to stay in touch and your business will grow endlessly. Not asking right away was a mistake I was making for years. A recent adjustment at my home page has resulted in double the number of subscribers to this newsletter each day. Consider this one-two punch of attention grabbing and address grabbing as critical to your long-term success.

Be brief.

Nearly everything you write at your site can be said with half the words. Remember, paragraphs that are longer than 60 words are too long, particularly on your main page. (This little paragraph is 60 words!) A wall of text scares web surfers away. Stick to the point. Use bulleted lists if you can, they make for an easier read.

Make Sure Your Ezine is one that gets Read:

Describe each issue in the subject line.

I learned this lesson personally. My own readership increased when I stopped naming each issue "BizWeb Gazette" and started telling my readers what each issue contained, right in the subject line. Don't wait to get your readers attention. Grab it before they decide whether or not to open your message. Take a few minutes to name each issue with a subject that you yourself would be interested in. It should be intriguing and relevant to your subscribers.

Shorten your newsletter.

I see more and more publishers streamlining their e- publications because of information overload. Even established ezines like Chronicles are realizing that less is sometimes more. When subscribers have 100 messages waiting in their in box it is hard to set aside 15 minutes to read one newsletter. Try to publish something that can be devoured in five minutes or less. A good rule of thumb is to keep it under 20k in size. Your readers will be more likely to read it from top to bottom and you'll earn a faithful following.

 
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