Welcome To My World!

There’s a Welcome Wagon service for people moving to new communities in the real world. So how about a WelcomeBasket service for people who are new to the internet?

This thought came to me after talking to a group of young business people recently. I asked how many accessed the internet on a regular basis each week. Out of the 15 people in the room, 10 raised their hands. Of the remaining five, three had never accessed the internet.

And that was ok. After all, not everyone wants or needs the ‘net. What did surprise me were the comments made by the last two.

Here’s the gist of what they said: “I tried the internet. I tried to find the stuff I wanted, but couldn’t. As far as I can see, it’s just a huge mess filled with porn, and I think it’s a complete waste of time.” And lest you begin to think otherwise, these two people were both smart, young, educated and about to embark on their own business ventures.

Were these two people misguided? I think so. They were misguided by us.

So here’s the question: How good are we at welcoming newcomers to the internet? Yes, we have those “First Time Visitors” buttons on our sites. But we could do a whole lot better.

Why bother? Because newcomers to the web are like new folks in town. They’re going to spend their money somewhere, but they have few pre-existing loyalties or habits. This is the time to attract and hold them.

It’s time to invent WelcomeBasket.com. Just send me your big investment bucks and here’s what we’ll do. We’ll create a “welcome basket” of information for new internet users. Within the basket will be:

  • Useful information to get them started.
  • Freeware programs, links to plug-in info for their browser, etc.
  • And, of course, lots of ad buttons and offer buttons from the “community.”

Naturally, companies will pay big bucks to get their “community” links in the basket.

How do we make the virtual basket visible to newcomers? We invite web site owners to put our basket logo on their home page. That basket will then be customized to the hosting web site. Like this:

“New to the internet? ClickZ.com welcomes you with this great basket of welcome goodies.”

A bit of a stretch? Not really, because we’ll pay the host web sites a proportion of the income we generate from visitors to their site. At the end of the day, the big bucks come from the large sites that buy those buttons.

I think I like it.

Anyway, putting my empire-building ambitions aside, the lack of a service like this – that is highly visible to new users – means that we’re missing out. We’re missing out on potential customers because we’re not making the environment attractive enough to them. They come, they see chaos, and some leave.

So you can either wait for me to create WelcomeBasket.com – or, at the very least, you can offer an equivalent at your own site.

Recognize that some of your visitors will be coming to you during their first visit to the internet. You can either look after them incredibly well, and make a friend and customer for life. Or you can design your site just for the experienced surfer and lose out on a whole new market.

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