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WebSite101 InternetWorld Small Business Best of Show Award

WebSite101 InternetWorld Small Business Best of Show Award

Thousands of small business webmasters briefly lose their domain names at expiration, due to a simple lack of understanding about the roles of three key players in the drama: domain name registrars, web hosts and internet service providers. Fortunately for most, they learn quickly how to save their web site from oblivion by using the 30 day redemption period for expired domain names enforced by ICANN. One simple solution is to extend domain registration for the maximum ten years. The other solution is to treat domain registrar data as the critical business element it is.

Search the WHOIS database to see who your Registrar is on your business domain! Transfer your domain name to take advantage of our lower prices.

I Can't Remember Where I Purchased My Domain Name!

It wasn't until my third client had called asking how to regain control of her domain name that I realized that it was a common problem for small business webmasters to forget where they had registered their domains. WHOIS my registrar? Why didn't I get an email about renewal? Why did my site stop working today?

People rarely realize how important it is to keep their domain registrar notified of changes to their email address and and other contact information. The registrar will send renewal notifications to the email address last on file. For most domain owners, the only time they think about contacting a registrar is the day they reserve their domain name. If they move to a new city and get a new internet service provider, it doesn't occur to them that the old email address will change and that meeans that the registrar can no longer contact them through the previous address, or phone or fax as each of them change and we rarely notify the controller of our domain of those changes.

Sometimes the first indication a business owner will have that there is a problem is the day their web site stops working. If they failed to notify their domain registrar of changed email address, they may never have received their domain renewal notice. Since many registrars honor a 30 day "redemption period" allowing expired domains to be redeemed, it may be possible to save the registration within 30 days following expiration by contacting registrars during 30 day domain redemption periods.

The following URL leads to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (AKA ICANN) discussing the grace period and redemption period rules it enforces.


300X300 Ad Space Left Side
Last Week Was Small Business Week May 5-11, 2002
WebSite101 InternetWorld Small Business Best of Show Award
by Mike Banks Valentine

In a never-ending quest to make life easier for small business webmaster, I'm fresh from the InternetWorld 2002 conference in Los Angeles with a surprisingly valuable tool to benefit even the little guy online. Even though internet trade shows rarely provide the entrepreneur without megabucks anything worth much discussion, this show delivered for David as well as Goliath.

I hereby award the "WebSite101 Best of Show Award" to Groopz, for their stunningly simple and very powerful sales tool that, although stretching the limits of affordability for the typical SOHO (small office, home office) practitioner, it is definitely a fit for those who are trying to decide whether office space is justified. My answer, unless you MUST have a place to meet the public or can't separate yourself from work at home, I say DON'T rent that office yet! Instead get Oracle Small Business Suite plus the Groopz service which together total just $200 monthly, far less than any worthwhile office rent might cost. Even if you do rent the office, this combination can't be beat! http://www.groopz.com

To many who choose to work from home, it just isn't possible or there is little need to meet the public at a business location, but now you can virtually greet them via Groopz live Java chat and real-time customer greeting system. Their marketing tag- line is, "Breathing Life into the Web!" It turns out that this is not so far from the truth since business owners with Groopz enabled site can now greet customers whenever they walk into your WEB store, extend a "digital handshake" and offer the well known greeting, "Hello, Can I help you?"

The Groopz enabled web store allows a business rep (or owner) to know instantly that someone is shopping, know which page the customer is on and how long that customer has been in the store to make it possible to offer that "digital handshake" at any time or simply monitor traffic and activity in real-time. There are two ways for a conversation to be initiated. You can wait until they click the "Contact live support" button or you may proactively approach them after noticing they are on the FAQ page looking for answers. A Java chat window appears on screen.

The time to initiate that contact may be when you see them on the information or sales page of your most profitable product or when they linger on one page for any significant length of time. Just as a person expects a store staffed by salespersons to be available to answer questions, so to would experienced visitors of your site. Once they have had that live interaction and refer your products to friends, they are very likely to let that friend know that live support and help is available from your business web site. If they leave with questions, they'll very likely return to ask them rather than leaving frustrated.

This concept is not new, as HumanClick and LiveHelp have shown, but it is now affordable for the little guy at just $95 monthly for the complete service, which includes chat transcripts and exportable logs for evaluation in WebTrends or other tracking software. If watching the real-time information and graphing is sufficient for you, you needn't even own analytic software as all activity is visible on your site at any time with Groopz.

Last year at InternetWorld, my Best of Show award went to CallButton.com for a service that allows customers to click a button to summon a telephone call from a sales rep or web site owner. While that seemed like the best solution at the time of that review and still provides an excellent support solution, it does NOT measure up to the power of Groopz live support nor does it require a web site visitor to offer up any personally identifiable information until they make the purchase.

My biggest objection to the Groopz service is the possible intrusiveness of an unexpected live chat popping up unwanted or unrequested. When I pointed privacy implications out to the folks at Groopz, I was told, "The only information that is now gathered by this live help tool is the very same data gathered by WebTrends for analysis." While this is true, most users of WebTrends don't watch as an IP address travels through their site. As a privacy advocate, this feels voyeuristic to me, even if all you are doing is watching an IP address move through the site, I feel just a little uneasy with it. But those extra sales might be worth a bit of uneasiness if customers aren't offended.

The Java chat window that pops up for the greeting may well startle site visitors but, according to Groopz, experience has shown that most just politely answser no, or click the chat box closed as though it were a pop-up advertisement. Since you can see what the visitor does, even though they close the window, you'll know if they leave the site because live information is still on your interface screen.

Research has shown that up to 80% of online shopping carts are abandoned and although reasons are simply unavailable for this, I'll assert that it is frustration over not being able to ask about simple matters like battery life or term of warranty that makes an online shopper leave without purchasing products already in an online shopping cart.

Additional, albeit separate, research has shown if shoppers could have questions answered, they would convert to buyers and complete up to 80% of those abandoned transactions. Completing of even 40% more sales would more than justify the $95 monthly cost of Groopz.com service for many online businesses. Any one of those contacts offer the opportunity to upsell too!

Groopz.com receives WebSite101 Best of Show award for this simple, affordable sales tool for the small business webmaster. For a list of runners-up and more contenders for the award, see below.

Search Engine Optimization for the Small Business

More show gems without the distracting article. ;-)

Domaindiscover allows anyone to host a domain registration service and does all support and billing work passing any reasonable mark-up to the hosting domain. Allows customization of look and feel to put the registration within any site design and has plans for developers and affiliates. http://domaindiscover.com .com, .net, .org, .tv, ws, .biz, .info, .name, .cc, .us, .bz and .nu

http://witi.org women in technology international is a professional networking organization hosts events nationwide to promote and create opportunity for women entrepreneurs.

http://Netbilling.com payment solutions of all sorts. Small business with Mac on display in their show booth. ;-)

http://tdctrade.com Hong Kong trade development council is government hub meant to promote trade agreements between asian and western countries. Have local offices that will assist by phone and in person. They allow use of site to match wholesale businesses who wish to work with American products.

http://burstmedia.com seems to be a perfect match for advertising small businesses as they are purely driven by content and advertising sales to those small business sites who have a passion for a subject.

http://interactiveni.com offers MasterWeb content management platform for small business web sites. No access to site design, only text content for users. Administration is web based.

http://sofTV.net allows streaming media presentations creation and upload without knowledge of the technology or need for the tools.

http://clickXchange.com affilate marketing solutions affordable with $250 deposit and all options for clickthrough, per lead, per sale, etc.

http://www.dacf.org Digital Advantage Charitable foundation Donate used computers to seniors and handicapped. They also do voice to text transcriptions for the handicapped.


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