A List Apart


The Money Page

The money page is where the pixel meets the pocketbook. The Money Page is not a shopping cart. It’s a simple page any Web designer can build. Its job is to connect the site owner with the visitor in the most direct way possible, in order to facilitate a business transaction.

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That’s what e-commerce is really all about: the connection between a visitor who wants to buy and an owner with something to sell. The point of a business website is fundamentally to sell stuff.

This point is so important that Proctor and Gamble, whose Advertising Budget is larger that the Gross National Product of many small countries,  hosted a conference in the summer of 1998 to try to figure out how to sell stuff on the Web.

(Not that P&G, for all their billions, is particularly Web-savvy. Consider the fact that their site takes centuries to load, and doesn’t work in many browsers.)

The smallest business owner can add and subtract.

“Let’s see, you want to sell me an 1/8 page print ad in ‘xyz’ magazine for X clams,  with a subscription base of Y issues, right next to all of my competitors, that will be seen for one month.

“Or I can, with the same clams, get a website,  which, when visited, allows me to present my company in full color; with information on all of my products and services; answers to frequently asked questions; my address, phone numbers and e-mail contact information.

“I can be up 24 hours a day/7 days a week.  The e-mail I receive will come from people who have  pre-qualified themselves,  and I can respond to them directly by email, or if they include their phone number, I can call them and close the sale.”

Enter the pixel mechanic (that would be you).

You know how to code; make graphics; enable plugins; add content, databases and dynamic sites; hammer the site into the search engines; link with “birds of a feather” sites and help the newborn website get noticed.

Shopping Carts Suck.

E-commerce is  not about shopping carts. According to a study published October 26 by BizRate.com, 75% of online sales are abandoned prior to completion.

The current versions of shopping cart software are probably doing more harm than good.

The primary reason is: Click here, click there, check the cart, add to the cart, remove from the cart, fill out the form, click here, click there, check this, check that and finally send the form on its way.

The secondary reason is security. The perception is,  if you send your credit card information across the net, some young cracker will steal it and use this information to buy a blow-up doll with “french and greek” features or order a new computer for his collection.

I build business sites for all types of clients. To demonstrate the importance of thinking about the Money Page  first, and building a site from the E-Mail box out, I will use two types of Clients: Automotive Junkyards and Real Estate Auctioneers. (Excited yet?)

Automotive Junkyards.

Let’s examine this Unique Selling Proposition: Selling Used Parts From Wrecked Cars! On the face of it, an uphill battle.

But on these highly (financially) successful sites, there are no shopping carts. There are no secure pages, no site certificates, no direct website-to-checking-account toys.

What there is, is a Part Request Form. A.K.A., The Money Page.

These folks are MAKING MONEY! My current auto clients are doing between $3-10 thousand per month in Internet sales through E-Mail and Money Page leads.

Real Estate Auctioneers.

Real Estate Auctioneers traditionally hold On-Site Events. Most Auctions are marketed for about 90 days from the contract signing to the final gavel. The On-Site portion is usually two to three hours in length, and marketing is primarily through an Auction Brochure which is mailed to Prospects prior to the auction.

By creating a website, the auctioneer can publish the information to the site — including a downloadable .pdf copy of the brochure — while the printer is still printing the stuff (an extra 3-10 day marketing lead time).

This also allows the clients to provide a more in-depth marketing of the assets,  increasing the possibility of a premium over the anticipated sales price.

In addition, Auctioneers can accept bidding prior to the On-Site Date and may even sell the property prior to the sale date.

A recent Auction, involving six hotel properties representing 5.3 million dollars, sold for over seven million dollars. Two of the successful bidders were Money Page contacts.

The Money Page is one click away from every page on every one of these sites. The request form (and that’s all the Money Page really is) is designed to give the visitors an opportunity to request information and give the site’s owners the information they need to determine if they can make the sale.

In both of the above examples, visitors to the site pre-qualify themselves while filling out the form, making your client’s site a revenue producer instead of money down a rathole.

Your clients get paid. You get paid.

Where the Pixel Meets the Pocketbook.

For your purposes, it doesn’t matter what your clients are selling. It is important, however,  that the Money Page be constructed to give the site owners the information they want in a form they can act upon. You will need to understand what your clients do for a living and what is necessary for your clients to sell their stuff.

The other important component is the Thank You page. When you submit a form and it speeds on its way to its destination, the Thank You page lets the visitor know that the information is on its way. This also gives your client one more opportunity to build customer loyalty.

A simple thank-you goes a long way.

So if you value simplicity, and if you consider EFFECTIVENESS to be a valid measure of your value as a pixel mechanic, do the right thing by your clients. Design Business sites from the E-mail box out. And see if your own business doesn’t start to pick up.

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