Stephen Alexander – Managing Director of First Internet, the Manchester based web agency – believes that when it comes to the internet, far too many companies are missing out on golden opportunities to extract maximum value from website marketing. Here, he outlines how to maximise the potential of this powerful tool.
One of the first places any potential customer will want to go to find out more about you, your products and/or service offering is the Internet. Recent research by the Internet World Stats Society indicates that 1.8 billion people have access to the internet worldwide and almost 24 million UK users log on to the internet as part of their daily lives. Could you imagine having a queue of customers this long outside your place of work or high street outlet?
There are simple things you can do as part of your everyday business practice to market your company website and increase potentially profitable traffic:
1. Make sure that your website is credited in all your corporate marketing materials including business cards, vans, stationery, advertisements, Yellow Pages and other business directory inserts and invoices. Any offline marketing must tie-in with the website look and feel. Potential customers need to know that is you they are dealing with and not an on-line company that has the same or similar name or someone who has registered your perfect web domain name.
2. First impressions truly count when a potential customer literally has the world and all of your competitors at their fingertips. Make sure that your website engages them early on and keeps them coming back to you. It’s important to constantly update the content of the website – and include the date and time where necessary. Offer something for all of your customers – whether this is a news feed, an on-line industry poll, on-line buying specials, company news or highlighting a new service or product that you have introduced. Consider making your website interactive with tied in newsletters and competitions or exclusive on-line discounts. Your website is your shopfront and you mustn’t allow it to become dated, dusty or downright dull.
3. Increase your web footprint. Don’t just plug your website yourself; make sure that those companies, suppliers and industry bodies you deal with have links to your website on their web listings. One of the easiest ways to do this is to have a link through to a larger, perhaps industry based website and then ask them to reciprocate. Think about other quality natural listings that you may have not yet exploited. Explore opportunities for advertising your website on e-zines and negotiate a pay per click rate with them to provide you with return on investment statistics.
4. Banner advertising is still used to great effect. However, it‘s important to avoid visitor ‘banner blindness’ by thinking up more and more innovative ways to engage your audience. Focus on banners that include words and images rather than just images – these can be far too clever and can restrict your appeal to the widest possible audience. Pop-ups and small animated banners are proven methods of obtaining instant click through that are not too intrusive or off-putting.
5. Keep your search engine listings up to date and make sure that your customers can reach you in that all important ‘three click maximum’ rule. The new breed of internet consumers can be quite lazy and if they have to work hard to find you, they may simply not bother at all.
6. Measuring the website worth is also crucial if you’re investing time and money into your on-line presence. Make sure that you track the success of particular on-line marketing campaigns – how many sales have you generated during the campaign period? What percentage of traffic increase have you encountered? How many ‘clickthroughs’ have you received from new links? How profitable have the ‘clicks’ been compared to investment in the marketing effort? There are simple statistical software packages that you can use to track the success of your on-line campaigns.
However, the most important factor in making your on-line marketing a success is to make sure that you plan it well. Ask yourself what your campaign is for. Is it to raise general awareness of the brand? Or is it to drive people to certain pages on your site to convert to leads and sales? Exactly as with marketing principles in the real world – careful planning, execution and accountability are the key to successful web marketing.