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We’ve all found ourselves in the position of wondering what we could do to make a successful website and capitalize on the tremendous opportunities that exist online. If you are over the age of 35, this “technology stuff” might have you feeling completely overwhelmed and wondering if you will ever fully understand it to make money online.

Succeeding on the Web is much easier than you would expect. This article will teach you the six steps necessary to be successful online. I guarantee it is much easier and more logical than you’ve ever believed. So, for all you 35+ geezers out there (myself included), just follow the formula, take action and you will be amazed at the results.

Step 1: Define your internet initiative
I am sure you’ve heard the saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll never get there.” This applies perfectly to your online business. If you don’t take the time to clearly map out what you’d like to achieve online, you will severely diminish your chances of succeeding online. You need to decide exactly what you’d like to accomplish online. Your objective may be to generate a certain dollar amount in sales, generate more leads or clearly communicate a message to your visitors. Whatever your objective, write it down and use it as a guide to everything you do online. When you are putting together your plan ask yourself, “Is this going to help me achieve my goal of [insert initiative here]?” Ask this at each step of the process to help you remain on track.

Step 2: Get to know your buyers
If you don’t fully know and understand what is important to your buyers, chances you’ll succeed online are very low. The old days of one-way communication and a simple sales process are over. The Internet has made business much more complicated and shifted the position of strength away from the seller to the buyer.

Take a second to review the difference. In the old days, shopping at your local department store meant you were looking for something very specific. If you were looking around for several minutes and couldn’t locate the item you would ask someone to help you. If you didn’t find someone right away you would search harder before giving up and leaving. You might have spent as much as an hour looking around before you decided to move onto the next store.

Let’s look at how things are now. You go to Google and type in the name of the item you’re looking for. You are presented thousands of options in less than a second. If you happen to click the top listing and find yourself not finding the exact item within the first 3-4 seconds, you click the back button and are off to the next store.

This can be extremely frightening for business owners, but doesn’t have to be. Although the Internet brings complication to the picture, it also brings many different opportunities to understand what is important to your potential buyers. Don’t be scared…just listen to your buyers and make sure you are taking action to give them what they want!

Step 3: Hang out where your buyers do and pay attention
Your buyers have a plethora of places to communicate with other like-minded people. There are forums, blogs, social media sites, industry publications and a number of other places where your buyers are asking questions in their own words. They are clearly stating what is important to them in making their buying decision. The majority of these places are open to everyone. The anonymity of the Internet allows you to go hang out in these places and monitor the conversations these buyers are having. There couldn’t be a better opportunity to get an extremely clear picture of what you need to create a happy customer base than to listen to their words.

Step 4: Learn from your competition by spying on them
You have the opportunity to conduct anonymous espionage on your competitors. I know this sounds sneaky, unethical and somewhat dirty. Well it isn’t!
Everything that happens online is tracked and the amount of data stored is incredible. There are tools available that can help you uncover the specific strategies your competitors have implemented and in some cases can tell you their success. I have provided links to some of these tools below in the resource box so you can take immediate action and keep a close eye on what your competition is doing. You can learn from their mistakes and use this intelligence to find a way of reaching your buyers better.

Step 5: Develop and follow a clear plan
If you set a clear objective for your website, understand what is most important to your potential buyers, hang out where your buyers hang out so you can understand the language they speak, and take the time to understand how your competition is catering to the wants and needs of the customers you are competing for, you have all the information necessary to create a successful strategy.

This step in the process is far too important to not spend time on. Treat your online strategy as though you are writing a story that leads to the perfect ending. If you follow every step of the story, you will achieve this perfect ending. Don’t make the mistake of rushing through and possibly skipping an important part.

Step 6: Test, modify and test some more
Back in the days before the Internet, companies incurred large expenses in creating advertisements, company collateral or product packages. Once these pieces were created, they either needed to be used, or, if the message didn’t work, they were thrown away and further investment was needed to recraft the message.

Thank God for the Internet! You have the ability to create a message and gather data which will prove that your message is successful or not within days or, in some cases, hours. The expense required to craft and post a new message is extremely low and maybe even non-existent. It is important to monitor the results incurred by your messages and if you find they aren’t working well or as well as you’d like, you can change them quickly and efficiently.