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Stop for a second and imagine an ambitious fisherman from a village somewhere on the coast of East Timor, in Southeast Asia. He’s got a sturdy, simple little boat to go out on the bay with. His net has seen its days; it’s old, ragged and full of holes, so he never pulls in all of the fish that swim inside. In fact, it’s so torn up, he probably only catches about half of what he should.

But he makes enough to keep his family fed and even turns a meager profit, regardless of the holes.

One day our fisherman ponders how all the villagers with sturdy, gas-powered boats are able to head off into deeper waters, where they make an absolute killing. He’s ready to upgrade and extend his reach.

Now, tell me, would it make sense for this fisherman to put a ton of money into a nicer boat and high-tech fish-finding equipment only to venture out into those deeper waters using his ragged old net? Of course not.

It would make more sense to fix his net first. And in fact, by doing so, he could capitalize on the fish already within reach, reaping an instant profit right then and there. He could then re-invest that money into his growing fishing enterprise.

And then, once he’d made the most out of the immediately accessible catch, he’d be ready for deeper, more bountiful waters…

Are There Holes in Your Net?

I think it’s clear where I’m going with this. Your website is the “net” you use to scoop in the fish online, or to bring in new customers and profits to your business. If you haven’t taken the time to tighten up your site, you’re leaving holes in your net, allowing what should be guaranteed prospects to swim right through.

A clear example of this type of negligence is demonstrated when business owners let their phones ring off the hook. That’s crazy – no business phone should make it past a third ring before being picked up; it costs far more to market to a new prospect than it does to simply pick up the phone and convert one that’s already calling.

On a similar note, it makes no sense to look at new web technologies and expand your marketing budget to bring in new prospects online until you take a take a hard look at the most important component – the foundation, if you will, of your online presence. Your website.

For Starters, Double-Check Your Contact Information

It simply blows my mind how many small businesses make it nearly impossible to contact them through their online presence: their contact form doesn’t work. The phone number is outdated or nonexistent. Or maybe no one bothers to check e-mails so they go unanswered…

Someone is at your site, ready to drop you an e-mail or pick up the phone to inquire about your company or your services, and what do you give them? A dead end. Think about that for a second. If this is your site, you’re losing money right now.

Fortunately, it’s a quick and easy fix. Go double-check all phone numbers, addresses, e-mails and physical addresses on your contact page for accuracy. While you’re at it, put your business hours up if they aren’t there already. If you have a contact form and it has been a while since you tested it, test it now.

Finish Your Website

This is another one you see a lot – the half-finished website project: Pages lacking content. Missing information about new services – often high-profit services.

And what about business owners who blame their unfinished site on a designer who “disappeared on them?” If this is you, it’s time to ask yourself, who is responsible for making sure your web presence is up to par – a designer or you? After all, it’s your business, not theirs.

What if you were looking for an accountant online and came across a website with missing pages and a half-finished design? Would you be jumping at the bit to have this individual handle your finances, or clicking away to look elsewhere?

I can hear it now ­- the sickly swoosh as the fish dart right through your ragged net and profits pour right through your grasping fingers…

Bring Your Web Content to Life!

Just as damaging as a poorly-designed, unprofessional website is a website with lousy content written just for the search engines. “It’s just a website,” you tell yourself. “As long as I have one I’m good to go.”

Not at all. Bland, unreadable, or misspelled content on a website is almost worse than not having a website at all because it makes a clear statement about how you feel about your business and what people can expect out of you, whether you like it or not.

Your website isn’t some little business card you can tuck away and hope no one sees. It’s your “voice” online. It’s a 24/7, dynamic, direct communication with your target market, and you can’t close the door.

If you don’t care about it, neither will anyone else care about your offer.

On the other hand, replacing lifeless web content with something designed to sell – content written by a professional who takes the time to understand your market, hone in on clients’ hot buttons, and speak directly to their fears and needs – can instantly change casual browsers into intrigued buyers.

Put a Continuity Plan in Place

Want to keep even more fish in your net? Every business website needs a continuity plan in place. Prospects usually just come to browse and then quickly click away to do something else, or even worse, review and compare competitor sites. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
It’s common knowledge that people buy from companies they know, and that familiarity is built by:

• Them seeing your company name over and over again.
• By spotting your ads and building up a brand recognition.
• By receiving your e-mails and hearing your “voice.”

So grab onto that brief second you have them on your website with all you’ve got; use it as an opportunity to connect. Try offering a downloadable report enticing them to sign up for a newsletter, and then e-mail out a prewritten e-mail sequence designed to gain trust, build credibility, update them about your company, and sell.

That’s a net that holds its fish. And it’s far cheaper and more effective than implementing some brand new traffic campaign.

Get to Mending Your Net Today

There are a ton of ways you can leverage online tools to get people eyeballing your business offer.

You can tap into social media and build great relationships with your audience through use of tools. You can use search engine optimization, a constantly-evolving, challenging technology but one that still brings in loads of traffic when done right. You can put your ideas and contributions in front of widespread audiences via magazines and newspapers. You can advertise online: PPC, banner ads, you name it.

But again, what’s the sense in spending all that money to bring in more traffic when you’re trying to catch fish with a net full of holes?
The answer is there’s no sense in it at all. Like the Timorese fisherman aspiring to greater things, you’ve got to fix your net first – plug up those profit leaks. Then we’ll talk about those deeper waters.

It’s time to take your website conversions seriously.

James Druman is a freelance blogger, commercial copywriter, and business writer who breaks down customer-oriented content marketing strategies at

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