These days having a good website is more important than ever before – the key word is good! Without a website your customers and prospects may not take you seriously and you may not appear professional. From a marketing perspective an online presence is imperative as media moves from away from traditional forms such as newspaper, magazine, television, radio and some forms of direct marketing. Even your local hot dog stand probably has a website.
What you are up against
There are millions of web sites with billions of pages on the internet. Thousands more websites are being added every day. If you don’t implement an effective web strategy you may find yourself at the bottom of this huge list never to be found.
You are competing for your customer’s and prospect’s attention – it’s that simple. As consumers have become more “plugged in” than ever before, their attention span has become shorter. People are increasingly becoming “multi-taskers” and it is not uncommon for people to be writing an email while checking their Facebook page, texting on their mobile device with a television set on in the background. In short if you cannot provide an engaging online experience then your customers and prospects will be off to the next thing.
As websites proliferate the bar is being raised as to what people expect. Websites are getting better with regard to:
- Improved viewer experiences
- More professional graphics, photos and text content
- Improved and more standardized navigation
- Addition of video, audio and interactive capabilities
- Mobile device capability
- Easy product ordering and customer service
The cost of developing a website has been dropping as new technologies and more competitors enter the web development market. That is not to say that developing and maintaining a good website is next to nothing. Make sure that you provide for web development and enhancements in your marketing budget. Perhaps more costly than money in website development is your time – don’t overlook your time required and budget it as well.
Uses for a website
Websites can serve a lot of different purposes and you will need to decide on which ones are right for you. As you add more functionality to your website the amount of maintenance and expense increases. Keep your website as simple as you can without sacrificing features that will help grow your business and brand. Some common uses for a website include:
- A basic business presence or way for your customers and prospects to find you. As other forms of finding a business are going away such as the yellow pages this is a basic function that you need to be concerned about. Make it easy for your customers to find you, contact you and interact with you.
- Showcasing your product or service offerings. These may be simple product listing or elaborate galleries showing your work. Make sure you present your products in the best light for your intended audience and make it easy for them to view your selection.
- Sales and product fulfillment more commonly known as ecommerce may be an important feature in your website. Make it easy for your customers to do business with you and give them a sense of trust when they order from you online. Your online sales efforts can open the whole world to your business and greatly expand your reach.
- Websites are great ways to build a community of people who are interested in you, your company and your products. If you choose a blog format you are already set up to build your community. They key word behind building a community is “interaction” – interaction between you and your community and interaction between community members.
- As a resource for ideas, news, entertainment, products and services.
Something to always keep in mind about your web presence – your customer!
As with any marketing activity you need to keep your customer or intended audience in mind. In the end it really doesn’t matter what you think or what you like, it is what your customer thinks and likes – hopefully both parties are on the same wavelength. Make sure you understand your customers and prospects with respect to:
- Who they are such as demographics and income levels
- What they want
- Their interests, like and dislikes
- Where they can be found
- What their hot buttons are
Put yourself in the shoes of your audience and ask yourself “Is my website providing them with what they want?” If the answer is no then you have some work to do. If the answer is yes then continue what you are doing but be sure to ask this question often as you change your business and your customers change their habits.
In the next article Website Basics For Artists – Elements Of An Effective Website we will explore some ideas on how to choose your website name and the key elements that you need to make your website effective to grow your brand.