If you see your website as an extension of your business, simply online, then you’re on the right track. Otherwise, you are probably throwing money away each month to host a website which only a drains your financial resources.
Many companies in early 2000 rushed to develop an online presence. Basically, companies reproduced their printed brochure with content and placed it in an online format. For most companies, their brochures and direct mailers was the number one marketing tool used to solicit new business and maintain current relationships, so it made sense to create their online presence out of this material. Webmasters and agencies across the country launched websites for their respective companies and clients and waited to see the results … many are still waiting to see them.
Most companies launched an official website, but didn’t create an official web presence. A website contains information about your company. It has information that may or may not be current and is somewhat stagnate related to content. You and your close associates know about your website, no one else does. A web presence is a living entity, a marketing tool, which interacts with your potential and current clients 24/7, 365.
What turns a website into a web presence?
Effective Search Engine Optimization
Potential clients can’t find your website unless you tell them. The best way to get the message out that you exist and can fulfill their need for a particular product or service is to get ranked on the search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Ranking on the major (and minor) search engines is strategic process which can take anywhere from 12 weeks to eight months. There are a lot of factors involved. If anyone tries to tell you they can get your site ranked at the top of Google in six weeks, it’s a scam.
Search Engine Marketing
Take your product or service directly to the top of the search engines, in the form of sponsored links. This is by far the easiest way to rank high on the search engines, but there is a “cost per click” for each potential customer. Google, Yahoo, MSN and many other search engines offer a paid listing on their engines. Although it is easy to sign-up for the paid listings, there is a strategy behind the development of the actual text or image ad, how much to pay for each click and which keywords and key phrases to use. You also need to have a marketing budget in mind.
Now that your audience knows you exist and where to find you, you can begin utilizing the full potential of your website.
Now that you have reached a new market; sell them your product or service. Selling online has not only become commonplace, but quite inexpensive. If you take credit cards at your physical location, you can easily accept them online through your website.
Offer your audience a free report or some other small gift in return for their email address and contact information. This data will come in handy when you want to reach a large audience with an announcement about a new product or service available at your website.
Want to know what your audience thinks about your product or service? Collect the information online. This data can be valuable in several ways. Number one, you can use this information to contact potential customers at a later date. Number two, you can use this to create a testimonials section for your website. Potential clients always want to know what other customers thought about your product or service and will use this information in their decision process.
Add Interactive Elements: Flash Video
Create an experience for your customers by providing an introduction to your company or demonstrate a product or service.
Update your Content
If your content doesn’t change on a routine basis, you won’t receive return visits to your website. Search engines also keep an eye on content and rank sites accordingly.
Use a Reliable Host
Don’t waste money on “fly-by-night” hosting companies. Most cheap hosting companies who offer 99% uptime with their hosting package know you don’t check and you wouldn’t know if your website was down. Use a company that provides uptime reports or a company that you can trust to monitor your site. If your audience can’t find your site because it is “down”, you have wasted marketing dollars.
The Next Step
There are literally hundreds of ways you can interact with your customers online and the few above should help you get other ideas rolling your way. The next logical step is to review your own website. Is it providing a source of revenue, or is your site simply a bill you pay every month? If the latter is true, you may want to rethink your current online marketing strategy.
Mosaic Interactive provides web design in Allentown, web design in the Lehigh Valley and web design in Pennsylvania.