A website is the ‘shop window’ of your business online. Through it you need to quickly convey your brand (quality, market position, image), purpose of your business, core services/products, key marketing messages, promotions…and that is only the start of what a website needs to be able to do. Simply telling people what you do is not enough, behavioural testing and refining content, niche targeting e.g. using landing pages A/B testing, engaging customers e.g. blogs, interactive media, video has meant a shift in the role, structure and methods of interweaving marketing communications to produce effective and measurable results.
Now more than ever a website is a part of a process of continually refining how you market to your customers online; measurement and improvement are vital.
“Audiences everywhere are tough. They don’t have time to be bored or brow beaten by orthodox, old fashioned advertising. We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in & be what people are
interested in.” - Craig Davis Chief Creative Officer for J. Walter Thompson (one of the worlds largest ad agencies).
Below is a four stage process for developing a digital marketing plan
The impact of a bad website:
“42% of online consumers have changed their minds about a brand as a result of visiting their website”. – source AOL
“88% of survey respondents say they want product reviews on e-commerce sites, but only 42% of the studied sites provide reviews.” – source internet retailer
The capabilities of a website more profoundly than ever affect business results. Yet, many businesses are entrusting this solely to web developers. A comparison is trusting your plumber to design your house. The point is that a good web developer is vital, crucial to the mplementation of a good website but most web developers do not have backgrounds in marketing, branding, strategy and often do not have great creative skills. A simple example of how things can be improved.
Before you charge in with a defense for those that do have this then let’s admit it is a few and rare mix. In life most people are skilled in their jobs and within their industry have levels of skills that supplement their core skill. But if you want soemthing done well, to be excellent you need to use specialists. With the range of technologies now involved in digital marketing it is a necessity to use the best to deliver the best results for your clients. Many business owners want the look forgetting about the purpose and goals of the website.
Here are some common mistakes:
- Design - so poor it makes you cry. If your customers see a website which is lacking in imagination at best and downright confusing at worst, then they’re unlikely to buy from you as you’re not giving them any reason to. Nice design doesn’t mean great business.
- Copy – Writing for the web isn’t like writing for print. People don’t read web pages in the same way as they read pages in a book or a magazine; visitors scan the page content looking for the key information. This is combination of visual layout and copy.
- Search Engine Optimisation – If a website isn’t easily found it’s a bit pointless having it. Most people know that a high proportion of the traffic to most websites comes from search engines such as Google. However, not doing the SEO at the beginning wastes time and effort and leads to a possible redesign of the website.
- Essential vs. Additional – Often a business wants to explain about everything that they rather than draw people in through key messages. The result can lead to complex and unnecessary structure, copy and design elements. Customers have little time these days so simplify and make it easy.
- Social Media – Just placing a twitter button on the website and a widget for a Facebook isn’t a social media plan. Here are some examples and ideas from Social Media Examiner as to how things can work.
- Content – Media/Photos…content is one of the most crucial factors. Interactive media well integrated enhances users experience, simplifies communication and provides for valuable back links. However, in most cases content is not good, not on brand or not structured. A good content strategy is vital.
Small Business Tips
Small Businesses are challenged by budgets but with todays technological building blocks the time to take building a website has dramatically reduced. The bigger challenge is getting it right for the business: fit to strategy, customers, key services and products…the website need is more affordable than ever but the planning is where the time is. If you are going to invest your life into a business (your passion) then getting online marketing to succeed is important. Don’t let production of some copy and a website graphic be the end of your approach. Have a clear thought through online marketing approach; it will save hours of time and effort later and be more effective in acquiring customers.
The way forward for many small businesses is to spend time researching and developing an integrated online strategy. As part of this research your customers and keywords. Once you have this, produce a short a brief that a web developer can work to and co-ordinate with an SEO expert, copy writer or others – manage it as a project. Spend a decent amount of your time with upfront planning. When you start your business you will find it easier by having revenue that then allows you to build upon your success. Marketing online now is vital for growth.
Tips for developing your online marketing
- Get it right for Google! – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is critical to getting your online visibility as good as it can be e.g. make sure you are on Google Places. More on SEO here.
- Is your website easy to use? – review your website content regularly (ask customers/potential customers for their feedback). Measure it and use Google Analytics regularly. Guide on how to install and a guide on how to use.
- Research how your market, customers and competitors are suing social media – how, where, what they are doing well/not so well…A simple start point here
- Implement a Pay Per Click campaign (through Google, for example) or advertise on Facebook with interesting ads and unique landing pages tailored to each ad.
- Create a free tool or resource that is useful to your target market
- Send emails regularly to customers and prospects who have signed-up for your email list – link to landing pages target to any offers or promotions
- Put your news online…Press Releases are not just for offline, you can also publish online and integrate into your other online channels – website, blog, emails. Edit press releases and add to your website ‘news’ section, publish them on free PR websites like www.PR.com
- Blog- Blogs can help a business on many levels. By creating strong content pertaining to your company’s industry, you will position yourself as an expert in that area. This can be a great way to build a strong reputation for your business. Blogs are a relatively inexpensive and simple way to market your company to the mass public. By creating a content that is easily searchable, people on the web will more easily find your services.