There are many specific challenges and concerns in web marketing, but there is one key problem they all come down to: not enough sales.
A signpost to the cause of these low sales is indicated by what people say when talking about websites: Who designed your site? Do you know a good web designer? I like this design, and, occasionally, something technical such as What content management system do you use? In other words, most companies, most of the time, are focusing on just designing and building their site.
The implicit idea behind this focus is if you have good design and good programming, you are set: people will come to your site and buy. In fact, they won’t – as you may already (painfully) know! With all due respect to the professionals concerned, attractive design and appropriate programming are certainly critical for a successful business site, but not to the extent of investing 95 to 100 per cent of the time, thought, and money in only these two aspects of the website’s development and use.
What’s the solution?
To find a more profitable direction for your website, consider the critical tasks it needs to accomplish: attract viewers, make the sale, and develop relationships with prospective and current clients. When thought of in these terms, it is clear that design and programming do not actually do any of these things. Yes, absolutely, they can support and enhance, but they don’t actually DO.
The solution to lower-than-desired sales is not more of what you already have (i.e. design and programming). The most important factor of all is simply a conceptual shift in thinking about websites: to realize that what is centrally important and what needs to be improved is marketing – both the marketing power of the site content and the marketing of the site itself. You can almost certainly gain much greater business strength and profitability by improving in these three areas:
1. Crafting the content to turn your site into an inspiring, powerful, and effective marketing/sales tool;
2. Promotion to bring targeted, receptive viewers; and
3. Strategic planning to maximize both of these elements – and the design and programming.
What are the specifics?
STRATEGY – Planning is arguably the key “supercharging” component for a business website and is frequently the most neglected. Before doing anything else, take a step back. Plan your whole web-marketing program strategically. Articulate what you are trying to do, who you want to reach, and why. Understand your markets profoundly.
Becoming more thoroughly and overtly strategic is the single biggest change you can make with you website to move toward your goals. It can produce such an increase in power and focus that your web marketing results will undergo a leap in effectiveness.
CRAFTING THE TOOL – Put more time into the information you include, how it is arranged, how well the language of the site captures attention and helps make the sale.
Think of your site as a large brochure. In a brochure, you would never start with Welcome to my Brochure or History of the Company, Vision and Mission, or About Us – all common openings to websites. The same marketing principles apply online as off. Have your captivating benefit message up front. You have literally a few seconds to tell the reader, “Yes, we have what you want and we are THE company to deliver it to you.”
It’s your job to craft an integrated sales process that guides, informs, and ethically persuades readers to complete your most desired response, be that a phone call, an email, the completion of a form, or a click
of the “Buy” button.
PROMOTION – The single highest return on investment on the Internet is to be found in the natural search results of the major search engines: Google, Yahoo, and MSN. This is the first place to put your time and money. The good news is that two of the major factors in search-engine ranking are non-technical: content development and inbound linking.
One of the most important rank-boosting factors is also one of the simplest. To the search-engine computers, more thematically related content equals more important – and that equals higher search-engine rank. So add more content now and keep adding more regularly. You can do this without clogging up your site by adding a library of articles or a section of “Additional details on…”
The second factor is to solicit inbound links. They must be from websites that are thematically related to yours and that are as large and popular as possible. Links can bring you prospective clients directly, and they are a critical boost to your search-engine position. Again, add now and add regularly.
Who are you going to ask for links? Think of related but non-competing links: directories, organizations, associations, publications, news sites, upstream suppliers, partners, and sub-contractors. Do a search in Google for the key phrases that apply to you. Out of the returns, check for related and non-competing candidates for linking.
The third factor to complement content addition and linking is optimization. Now we have a more technical part, and this writer highly recommends that you engage the services of a specialist if you want the best possible results. But you can build a good foundation with basic marketing principles and common sense.
If you wanted to promote a class on Anti-Bullying Tips, you might send out a brochure titled, Anti-Bullying Tips for Every Family. Then you would feature the term several more times in sub-headings and the body copy. Do the same with your website. Put the term or terms that people are looking for into your headings and text. Do it in such a way that it sounds natural. And how can you know what people are looking for? One free tool is available at freekeywords.wordtracker.com.
To conclude, the key problem is lack of sales and the solution is a shift in thinking and effort to make your website the best marketing tool it can be and to promote it effectively. You don’t need to do this all yourself. Partnering with specialists is the most effective route. But within that framework of partnership, there is a great deal that you can do to maximize the effectiveness of your single most powerful marketing tool. The potential return, in terms of business building and profitability, is staggering.