Black Forrest Gateaux
To misquote Forrest Gump: 'A Web site is like a box of chocolates'. It's also like a can of black cherries, a frozen gateau or anything else on the supermarket shelf. There are two important issues for a gateau manufacturer: 1) getting people to try its product in the first place; and 2) ensuring they buy it again in the future. Exactly the same is true of a Web site - you have to get people there in the first place and then ensure they revisit. For the gateau manufacturer, attractive packaging and promotion drive that initial purchase, and a Web site is no different. Repeat purchase, however, is driven solely by the quality of the product - if the consumer didn't like your cake first time they won't buy it again; exactly the same holds true for a Web site.
The two lessons to learn are: promote your site hard, and don't launch before the site it's ready. If someone comes to your site and doesn't find much there, they're unlikely to return in a hurry.
You may think be tempted to think this analogy falls down because gateaux or chocolates have to be purchased, whereas Web sites are free. If so, you'd be wrong, and we politely suggest you take a look at some of the qualitative (as opposed to quantitative) Web research that's been published, especially UK-centric studies such as The View from the Net (published by the Internet Research Company, 0171 486 0030). These studies show that because of telephone and other on-line costs, consumers are always very aware that they're paying to see your site, and think of the Web as 'Pay-per-view advertising'.
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