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Please Don't Go

Getting visitors to stick around

A wave of megabucks mergers has swept the Web world in recent months, with Yahoo! (http://www.yahoo.com) gobbling up GeoCities (http://www. geocities.com), cable provider At Home swallowing Excite (http://www.excite.com), and AOL (http://www.aol.com) buying Netscape and its highly trafficked NetCenter (http://www.netcenter.com).

What's all this merging about? A year ago, Web executives were hunting for "eyeballs"--viewers--and the push was on to gather as many eyeballs as possible, thus the mergers. Today's push is to keep those eyeballs stuck to the site--hence the latest Web buzzword, "sticky sites."

That's why Yahoo!, for instance, continues to flesh out its personalized "My Yahoo!" page, offering individual viewers everything from a to-do calendar to horoscopes and sports scores. The aim is to use ever more content to get viewers to stick around.

Will this new development squeeze small business off the computer monitor? There's no proof the sticky-site strategy will suck up every minute of Web viewing time. But there's a lesson in this for entrepreneurs: Build a site that encourages your visitors to linger. Use freebies, toggles that allow for personalization, frequently updated content, maybe even a chat room. Although the big guys will get the biggest share of this market, that doesn't mean there won't be plenty of tasty morsels left over for creative entrepreneurs.

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This article was originally published in the June 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Please Don't Go.

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