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Enhance Visitor Participation and Loyalty with a Web Database

By Carole Pivarnik, Copyright (c) 2000

So, you're wondering how to get visitors to hang around your site a little longer? Maybe get them to interact a bit more? Even give them a good reason to keep coming back? Consider adding an inter- active database to meet all these needs. The benefits?

  • It's easier for you to update records in an online database than manually updating and reloading HTML-coded pages.

  • Visitors can interact more with your site, and that's likely to keep them around longer.

  • Visitors can more quickly and easily find items of interest, making your site more useful to them, thereby building loyalty.

  • Being able to add or edit records gives visitors a greater sense of involvement and can help increase useful content on your site (depending on the nature of your Web database).

  • A database's design and structure can easily be changed to accommodate new information you need to capture.

Interactive Database Ideas

Here are some interactive databases that might enhance any number of Web sites:

  • Directories. Of professionals, members, related Web sites, resources, you name it. Let visitors add their own entries and watch your directory grow like crazy.

  • Article Archives. Write a lot of articles for your ezine or site? Put them in an online database and your visitors can easily search for the ones that most interest them.

  • Events Calendar. Are you a speaker, trainer, or organization with a full schedule of events? Let your visitors keep track of what's going by posting updates regularly.

  • Press Release Center. Post your press releases or news stories so that folks can easily keep up with what's happening on your site or in your company.

  • Job Openings/Referrals. Create a job bank by posting job listings or letting others do so. Accept job candidate referrals from others, or maybe even set up and manage a referral contest.

  • Service Requests. Allow customers to request service calls, appointments, or assistance. Respond online by updating their request with the necessary information.

These are just a few ideas that your site might use to add interactivity, build loyalty, and encourage participation. No doubt you have a few ideas of your own by now. The next big question is, how do you get there from here?

Assessing the Technology Hurdle

No doubt about it, adding interactive databases to your site requires getting past the technology hurdle. To do that, your options are:

  • Custom programmed solutions, which require good programming, database design, and server configuration skills and typically involve hiring a professional. This approach can easily cost thousands of dollars and take weeks or months to implement.

  • Do-it-yourself solutions, which usually require you to buy and install software that you use to design a database from scratch and configure your server to implement it. The cost varies but can be several hundred dollars, plus most likely significant amounts of your time--depending on how savvy you are to begin with.

  • Hosted solutions, which let you choose from existing designs or customize your own. Some must be accessed on the host's site, while others can be visually incorporated into your site although your actual database lives on the host's server. Cost generally ranges from free to less than $50 a month. Implementation time is fast...a couple of days or less. This solution is often the best for site owners who want to have design input but don't want to spend a fortune or code a solution themselves.

The solution you choose will depend a lot on the skills, time, and money you have to invest. Regardless of how you do it, the fact is that adding interactive Web databases to your site is a great opportunity to engage your visitors and keep 'em coming back for more!

About the Author:

Carole Pivarnik manages audience development and affiliate programs for SureCode Technologies, Inc., which offers full- featured, customizable Web databases that plug right into any site with no programming. Email her: carole@surecode.com. Sign up for her free newsletter, Working Web Sites, or learn more about SureCode at http://www.surecode.com.

Tags: E-commerce and Internet



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