Business Website – Your Marketing Home And Hub For Your Entire Online Presence
Do I Still Need A Website With All Of These Social Media And Local Business Sites Available?Occasionally I hear people say that you don’t really need a website, since you can just use Google Places or social media sites like Facebook Pages, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. I am here to tell you that being without your own business website is a huge mistake!
For every small business, a website should be mandatory. It is your marketing home and hub, your gathering place and the destination you send everyone from all of your other assets in cyberspace. Here are a few reasons why you should not be without your own business website:
- Control!!! This to me is by far the most important aspect. To have your online presence only in third-party websites like Google Places, Facebook and all the other social networking and web 2.0 properties is dangerous because you don’t own it! If any of them go under, stop working or decide to ban you for any reason (and history reveals a long list of these), your data is gone. And all links you set up pointing to that property are now useless. Owning your own website removes all this risk.
- Limitation. Without going into a ton of detail, there is just far less you can do on any of the social media sites, directories and local search sites then you can do on your own website. You can do just about anything with the design of your own website. Anything less can severely limit your marketing capabilities.
- Marketing and Calls To Action. This of course is the most important part of your web presence, and reason for being – if you are a smart marketer. Again you are very limited in the social media and local business sites in your ability to generate leads and have them take your call to action. Also, your website is by far the best place to set up your e-mail capture and follow-up system.
- Full-time Salesperson. Your website will work for you 24/7/365 and never call in sick!
- Without a website, you are INVISIBLE to thousands of potential customers!
Examples: get them to call, email, fax or visit your store; capture their email address from a form online that will go into your database for further communication with them; make a purchase; download a ebook, sign up for your newsletter, join your RSS feed or social network, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I think local business sites and social media are important in your marketing mix. Some of them are more for engaging prospects and networking, which is very valuable, but your end result is normally sending them to your website for more information or to take action.
Your Website Is The Most Important Marketing Tool That You Have!
But I Already Have A Website
Yes you do – and how are your results from it? You only have a few seconds to make a favorable impression and give visitors what they are looking for, or they are gone – never to come back – unless you implement proper marketing techniques.
Your site also needs to have activity and change. When is the last time you added fresh content to it? How many people are visiting it? How many people are taking your Call To Action? Do you even have a Call To Action?!? Are you tracking anything?!?
If these four areas do not give you the results you expect, then you need a website makeover:
- Traffic: are you getting a large enough stream of qualified leads?
- Conversion: are your qualified leads taking your Call To Action and eventually turning into happy customers?
- Customer Retention & Repeat Buyers: do your customers keep buying from you, or are they easily lost to your competitors?
- Measure, Analyze & Improve: do you have goals for your website, have access to the reports you need and can then determine whether your marketing messages are working or not?
If this is foreign to your current online marketing strategy, it is important to fix it.
The reason to redesign your website is to provide a positive impact on your bottom line. You need to focus your design decision-making on the most important aspects: normally more quality leads, more conversions to customers and customer retention.
Your Website Should Be About Content & Marketing, Not About Flash!
More time should be spent on adding content that your visitors want to see, and about how to promote that to them properly. Please remember its not about aesthetics or how it will look. Most people really don’t care (unless of course it looks like it was done by an amateur). They just want to find the information they are looking for to solve their need.
You also need to continuously add new information, whether it is through your blog posts, new videos, guest articles – whatever. Keep adding great content on a consistent basis and your leads and customers will keep coming back. Bonus benefit: the search engines, like Google, will rank your site higher if there is a consistent flow of new content.
Then, most importantly, it is up to the marketing principles you use in your web design to get them to take your Call To Action.
If Your Website Is Made With FLASH, Might As Well Throw It In The TRASH!
- many people don’t have Flash installed in their web browser, so they won’t see most of your site!
- many people intentionally turn Flash off or prevent their web browser from using Flash – they won’t see most of your site!
- if your visitor is using an iPhone, iPad or other Apple-based device – they won’t see most of your site!
- most importantly, the search engines (like Google, Yahoo/Bing) can’t read Flash – so the search engines won’t see most of your site!!!
(you will have a much more difficult time getting your web pages ranked on page one for any of the search engines – which also happens to be one of the largest sources of traffic to your website)
Website Analytics – Your Key To Website Marketing Improvement
Okay, you have managed to create and publish an attractive website. The problem is, attractive doesn’t mean it is effective. Luckily, there are great tools to determine how effective your site is. That’s where an analytics product comes in. If you truly want to improve and succeed, you should measure.
My favorite analytics program is called “Google Analytics”. It’s a free application from Google for you to measure your website traffic and help you understand how your website visitors behave when they are on your site. I believe in using Google Analytics for two reasons: 1) it is a very powerful tool for measuring the success of your web site, your marketing efforts, and your products and services; 2) it is free!
You will be able to see your website statistics, drill down deeper, find more specific information, and use that information in ways to improve your website marketing. Statistics alone (which you can get from your web hosting company) only give you raw data. Analytics turn that raw data into highly usable marketing information.
- Peter Drucker, Writer, Professor & Management Consultant
Website Analytics – How Can It Help My Business?
What do you do with analytics? You improve your marketing, improve your business and improve your bottom line!
Google Analytics can calculate the most popular pages, how much time they spend on the page, the percentage of people who bounce (or leave) the site from a particular page, how deeply they dig, what links they come from and how often they return. And it can do far more, depending on your needs. You can also set goals, which is significant, otherwise you just may be operating in a random fashion and not optimizing for the results you want. Then, once you know what metrics are meaningful for your website, you can use them to improve the site’s performance. Just knowing the most popular pages, the pages your visitors exit on and the links they come from alone is fantastic marketing information which will allow you to further develop your content and call to action.
If you use Google Analytics as a tool to monitor and build your online marketing efforts, you’ll find there are many benefits to knowing the who, where, what, why, and when of your website traffic.
Business And Marketing Focused Websites Are Mandatory Yet Inexpensive
There are many good looking, professional, yet inexpensive website templates available today that we can use to help you quickly get up and running. Leave the exquisite design to the magazine advertisers – focus instead on business results.
For a website today to be effective, it should also have the following:
- Good quality, frequently updated content
- Solid marketing principles
- Pages built on keywords that have been researched
- Search engine optimization properly done
- Good landing pages with a strong Call To Action
- An RSS feed to get more people to follow your content posts