Today just about every business thinks it needs a website, even if it is just an entry into Google Places / Business. The reason is simple enough in many cases, in that they feel they need a site because all of their competitors have one…
This is sound reasoning to a degree, in that without a web presence a take on an old saying becomes that little bit truer:-
“There are three certainties in life, the first is death, the second income tax, but the third is also important, as if someone does not know about you, they can never do business with you…”
This then is the mind-set that some businesses have when considering setting up a site, any old thing will do, we don’t have to market it, we just have to be there.
This I am afraid is all wrong, as if the website does not project the right message, or a competitor sends a better one, sales could be lost. After all first impressions count as much on the web as off it; you certainly would make sure that your reception area was clean and tidy (even if the back office was a mess).
The important thing to realise is that a website is always available, it is your 24hr sales person, but, and it is a big but, if it (the salesman) is to do a good job, it needs to able to ‘sell’ your services from the very first time it is viewed, and remember, not everyone will come through the front door (the home page).
With this in mind the message the site needs to give and the information it needs to provide must be considered before the website is built. Questions like ‘So what is our corporate message?’, ‘Just what do we need to say to get people to trust us enough to contact us?’ and many others have to be answered. This is why at Rouge we take a lot of time to understand our customers business and their aspirations, only then moving on to the actual design of the site.
What System Should Be Used to Build A Site?
The messages that the site has to convey, the type of site (is it selling online or just a means to get people to contact you?), the level of expected traffic and whether it needs to be able to cope with multiple languages, all have an impact on which set of ‘nuts and bolts’ are going to be used to build the site. Will WordPress do?, does it have to be Drupal?, or will it need to be coded from scratch. It is vitally important to make the right decision on the methodology at the very start, you just don’t want to have ‘switch horses’ later on.
Is Marketing Needed?
The other common misconception is that a site does not need to be marketed, people will just find it and do business with us people think. Whilst it is true that most sites will be found for their brand name without any marketing, the chances are that the numbers will be low and / or that they will be the wrong type of visitor. Hence sales will suffer.
So what does marketing entail and why is it necessary if the site is to be just a ‘brochure site’, one those only job is to re-inforce the messages that the salesforce give out, or to act as a reference point for the people you meet down the pub or in a meeting, your message to them being, ‘check out our website and see if we can help you’.
Well, if all you REALLY want is that reference site, then there is indeed no need to market the site by any means at all. You can forget all about Radio and TV ads, email shots and Search Engine Marketing, and just leave the site as it is.
The Potential Search Engine Marketing Offers
But, is this not a terrible waste of potential? After all you have (should have) invested a lot of time in your website, making sure that it indeed does send out the right message and answers all the questions that need to be answered before someone is likely to contact you. So, should not that investment be used to the full, should you not ‘market’ the site in some way?
Of course, as mentioned above, marketing a site (getting it known) can be done in many ways, and if the site is truly ‘fit for purpose’ all of the marketing methodologies, will, to varying degrees result in sales. Which is the best really depends on your market place, and it is normally better to have a wide strategy that encompasses a few of the available channels.
There is however one channel that you should really consider above all the others, simply because it fits in so neatly with the fact that you have a website, this channel is of course Search Engine Marketing.
What is Search Engine Marketing?
Search Engine Marketing is itself divided into two areas, one where the visitors are ‘paid for’, the other where they are to all intents and purposes ‘won’. The former is a called Paid Search and the latter Search Engine Optimisation. Both are based on the fact that most people use Google (other Search Engines are available) to find a supplier or an answer to a question these days, these searches increasingly made via mobile devices like smart phones and tablets. This is an important point by the way, as it means that you have to have a site that is ‘mobile friendly’, that is can be viewed on a device that has a small screen, or you are quite simply wasting your time (this being a part of the decision as to the coding type that needs to be selected when building the site).
Search Engine Optimisation
If you do choose to use SEO as a part of your marketing strategy, you also need to understand what terms are being used by people in your market place (so that you can be found for them) and also, and this is critical, what words Google ‘expects to see’ on pages wanting to be found for those target terms. Armed with this information, a site that answers both the needs of your customers and Google can be created, a mix that, with a little bit of linking magic (getting other sites to point to / link too, your site) is sure to make all the difference.
This blog just reveals the tip of the ice berg for both website design and SEO, so if you want to know more, please do contact us, we are waiting to help you make your business succeed