Deal Your Web Site a Better Hand

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Every poker pro will tell you: The key to winning is not about the cards you hold. Rather, it's reading others that matters most. Without getting a good read on every player and adjusting your game accordingly, you'll fold often and eventually bust out.

Success with search engine marketing is no different. Every visitor it drives to your site has different "playing styles" and capabilities based on their choices in browsers and system settings. Despite this, most sites continue to play at a disadvantage because they treat all visitors the same.

When these differences are not taken into account, users encounter browser failures, which lead to lower conversion rates, Web site abandonment and damage to your brand and credibility. Users think the trouble is on your end when it's often on theirs. Worse yet, there's no way for you to know when these failures occur. You take the blame and don't even know it.

Is your site at risk? A recent study by Harris Interactive and Tealeaf found that 89 percent of online users recently encountered technical issues on sites, and 40 percent received an outright browser error message. Most significantly, 34 percent switched to a competitor as a result.

Users want a site that "just works." This means that you need a way to automatically detect each visitor's browser type and preferences, disabled settings, installed plug-ins, display size, connection speed and other settings as they enter your site. Visitors then can be warned proactively about any incompatibilities before such issues result in failures, and they can be given self-guided troubleshooting steps to resolve their issue quickly.

This is where intelligent browser and system analysis tools come in. Unlike poker, these tools let you change your cards in the middle of a hand to maximize your chance to win. You gain this advantage because the tools let you deliver a successful Web experience to everyone, regardless of their system capabilities.

Users whose systems can handle rich content receive it while everyone else gets automated instructions on how to adjust their system accordingly. You can even provide a scaled-down, fast-loading alternative for those who can't change their system. Either way, the odds swing heavily in your favor.

How does all this affect your winnings? Consider what happens if your SEM program drives 1 million visitors a month to your site and just 5 percent have technical issues. You're losing 50,000 visitors a month, or 600,000 a year - the equivalent of your site being down for more than two weeks.

Now look at what you pay on a cost-per-click basis and multiply that by 600,000. At even $1 per click, that's $600,000 wasted. Wouldn't that figure look good as an addition to your marketing budget?

Is 5 percent a realistic failure rate? Recall the study cited earlier that 89 percent of users experienced issues and 34 percent switched to a competitor. And with the impending release of Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0 and Firefox 2.0 this year, the situation promises to worsen.

Intelligent browser and system analysis tools increase your site ROI by letting everyone into the game and by making you the favorite in every hand.

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