Business cards, direct mail, and Yellow Pages ads have their merit but, as business marketing methods, they're more likely to collect dust or become acquainted with the trash can. This is a wired world, and web presence is what really matters. But it has to be the right kind of website. Simply purchasing a domain name and throwing an About page and contact information on there are hardly enough to make an impact. If you're thinking of grabbing yourself some super-cheap web space from a mass web hosting operation and settling for a slapped-together website, I'm here to convince you otherwise.
Maybe you've already succumbed to the savvy marketing of mass web hosting companies and are now suffering with a website that plods along like quicksand and looks like it was created in 1998. Don't feel bad - even the best business owners have run into snafus where their website is concerned. Let's face it - you're probably much better at being a lawyer, dentist, roofer, butcher, baker, or candlestick maker than you are at handling all the puzzle pieces that go into bringing your business online, right? And you should be doing the work you're paid to do and most qualified to do anyway. But it's still essential to understand the most important details of website marketing.
Planning instead of doing
There are certain essentials that every business website must have in order to be successful and do the best work it possibly can for a company. Knowing what's right for your website and your biz before you start chewing the fat with a web designer or internet marketer is key. I've outlined the major elements below that you should be thinking about as you're putting your website together. Whether you already have a web presence or are starting fresh, these concerns apply.
It's your job as a serious business owner to know the answers to all of these questions if you want your website to be effective, powerful, and worth visiting:
• What's your domain name? Anyone can buy a domain name, that's the easy part. And you probably already own at least one if not a dozen (that may be sitting dormant). But does your domain name match your business name? Can you communicate it easily over the phone? Does it include your target keywords? Do you, perhaps, (shudder) not even know the credentials for your domain registrar?
• What goes into having a website created? You've heard the buzzwords - web hosting, CMS, WordPress, XML Site maps, conversion rate optimization, responsive web design, and, of course, SEO. Your website needs all of these things. Do you know how they fit together? Do you know if you already have them? Do you even know what SEO means?
• Is your web traffic barely there? You know you're an in-demand business. You know that people want what you're selling. You've got a website and your web person did all the right things. But, man, no one's taking the bait! Your web traffic is negligible! Now what? Should you pay Google for some ads? (Why not? Google's motto, after all, is "Don't be evil," but do they practice what they preach?) Are there other - better - conversion tactics you can employ to get Google's and your target audience's attention without throwing endless dollars at the problem?
• Are you on the social media bandwagon? Your popularity and website effectiveness can be measured in part by how many social media hits you're getting. You have those nifty little Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and email buttons alongside or below or above every article or page on your website (you do, don't you?) but are they racking up a nice little tally of shares? Oh, wait, you only use social media to chat up your friends? Wrong-o. Social signals play an important role in where your website lives on the search engine spectrum.
• How well do you communicate? Email has far surpassed connecting by phone. It's in your pocket, on your desk, chilling on your tablet. But are you communicating with clients the right way? A Gmail address is hardly authoritative. And do you know how your customers and clients prefer to be contacted?
• How are your reviews? Are you suffering under the weight of one unhappy customer's scathing review? Google isn't going to take it down for you no matter how the situation was resolved. You need reviews, and they have to be legit. And there are plenty of ways to go about getting the reviews you want for your business.
• Do you have a plan in place for leads? Once you finally fill in all the blanks of your web presence, have people coming to your site, and are working to convert those visitors into customers, there's still a job to do. Don't drop the ball now. Are you adequately tracking and measuring the success of your website? Are you handling your leads properly?
There is always something new, better, and more interesting to do with your website, like geo-expansion and mini-sites. The options available to you represent the joy and the pain of having an online presence. But, for better or worse, you better be on the WWW. Tune in to our regular posts for an in-depth examination of the most important website elements as we've outlined them above.