I'm preparing for a presentation next week about how your website is your most valuable marketing asset. After all, it works 24/7, it's the digital equivalent of a store front or office location and can be the most effective means for getting more business - assuming you do things right.
Here's my thinking on the matter.
Just as hanging your shingle outside your business or having a catchy sign can draw the attention of potential customers, so can a website. The added bonus is that your website can communicate a great deal more about you and your expertise than a store front, a phone message or a sign.
In fact, your website can communicate as much or more than your most talented business representative... It can focus 100% of each individual visitor without interruption, and it does so on your visitor's schedule rather than yours.
Your website, if it includes the means for doing so, can capture pertinent information about prospects, including the web pages that were most informative and the terms used to find your site. It does so without requiring that a person actively be present to record the data. Let Google Analytics be your resident retail anthropologist!
What's not to like!
In order to get more business, though, comes a certain responsibility for ensuring that your website is -well- alive, active, up-to-date, informative, focused on customers... In other words, it needs to be an extension of your overall business, not an afterthought. I consider my website to be the hub of all of my marketing activities!
Consider this real world vibrant business analogy:
- Would you allow the lights in your display sign to stay burnt out for an extended period of time?
- Would you ignore trash accumulating by your front door?
- Would you forget about cleaning your bathrooms?
- Would you only hand out dated and irrelevant brochures and materials to prospective customers?
I don't think so.
The same thinking applies to your digital store front aka your website. It needs to be fresh and up to date. It needs to work and support your business.
Just as you think through the steps a prospect takes in real life to become a customer, you would anticipate the actions a visitor takes on your website and be prepared with content to answer their questions, establish trust and begin relationship so they return and eventually buy. Right?
If you're serious about your website and how it can help you get more business, take the following 7 tips to heart:
1. Have you installed Google Analytics? If not, do so. It's free and powerful.
2. Identify goals for your website in Google Analytics. Consider time on specific pages, completion of your contact us and newsletter subscription forms.
3. Be thoughtful and thorough about your website's SEO [see SEO Tips: Having Fun with Title Tags and Meta Descriptions].
4. Make sure that your website answers the questions your customers have. Be thorough; link to relevant resources so you truly deliver value to visitors. The information on your website can play a dual role. When you follow up with customers in your store, showroom or office, you can refer them to that same content via links in an email for example.
5. How dynamic is your website? Have you established a schedule for updating and refreshing your content - as you would in your store, showroom or office? Have you made someone responsible for doing so?
6. Use your website as a hub from which to send probes via email, through social networks, in person, via Adwords campaigns and traditional advertising with invitations to return to your website to explor content. This allows you to test how effective your site is.
7. Analyze your data regularly. Learn from the data. Be constantly testing your ideas.
How do you use your online presence to anticipate and respond to customer inquiries? What have been your greatest successes? What about your greatest flops? Let me know!