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|Web Express Guide Sheffield Edition||No. 28 October 2005|
Are You Marketing Your Website?
Hang on, aren't Websites part of a companies' overall marketing plan?! Keerti Baker explains why it is vital to market the marketing tool in this two-part article.
Myth: Get a website designed and built and the punters will come to you.
Fact: There are millions of Websites on the Internet that not only look good but provide an 'infotaining' service to their target market. Why would someone come and visit your Website just because it is there?
It is a universal marketing fact that your Website can become an effective marketing tool but many companies do not understand that in order for your Website to work; you need to market it. This irony is not uncommon knowledge to a lot of successful eBusinesses such as eBay, Amazon; and even MSN and Google.
There is no easy way of going about this, and there are no overnight success stories unless you're very lucky. The following points firstly highlight the things you need to have in place before you market your Website; and secondly - what Internet marketing streams you can adopt.
Consider the following before you embark on an Internet marketing plan:
1. Does your website fulfil a purpose?
Is it there to serve an information seeking audience or for entertainment purposes? Is it a simple online brochure site outlining your products and services or is it an e-commerce site? The thought behind this is: If you don't know what your Website is meant to achieve how can you go about achieving it?
2. Is it designed to fit in with your overall brand?
A professional design of your Website should reflect your brand-values and look. It should be easy to navigate around, structured and have a site-wide navigation plan. For the more advanced site, your design should accommodate elements such as banner advertising space and the design flexibility to change and grow.
3. Is it built correctly?
Ask your web company if your website 'build' fits in with the current web standards? No matter how beautiful your website looks, if it isn't built to web standards it won't display on certain browsers, it won't be 'spidered' by search engines and certainly wouldn't meet any DDA standards.
4. What is the content strategy of your Website?
What content are you planning to have on your Website? How often will it be updated? Does your brand determine a tone-of-voice that you can follow?
A common mistake people make is to have realms of copy on their site. People have short attention spans on the Internet. It is proven that readability is reduced by 25% on a web page. Keep this is mind when you write any web copy. A golden rule is: When in doubt leave it out. Short copy is the best. If you can, use items like bullet points to highlight your key messages.
However, don't confuse short copy with a complete lack of it. Strike a pleasant balance between providing your customer with essential information and ‘keeping it short and sweet’.
5. Are your graphics over-kill?
Whilst it's nice to have imagery on a Website, too much irrelevant imagery can be distracting unless it is an e-commerce site displaying a range of images per product. Let your designer guide you on this aspect. I’ve come across several companies who do not listen to their design/development studio. They request for flash animation, splash pages and everything else that their Website doesn’t need. Think about it – it’s called ‘Flash’ for a reason.
Invariably, these clients come round to the original idea of having a simple website in the first place. By then they’ve wasted everyone’s time and money with incorrect ‘briefs’.
6. Is your Website optimised for search engines?
Optimisation of a Website starts in the 'design and build' stage. Do your homework and find your effective key phrases and market niche before starting any content optimisation on your Website. Make sure your content reflects your chosen key phrases and make it second nature to regularly update your Website. Fresh content is attractive to both - search engines and users.
You might be wondering, “How can I recognise a trustworthy web company when there are so many (cowboys) out there?” This is my tip: A web team that truly cares about the success of your Website will advice you on the things that your site needs to have. They will constantly stress for a ‘phased development’ and will not hesitate to disagree with you.
I’ve been fortunate to work with some web teams who turn clients away when they request for something that their site does not need at that development stage. These are the people who are not solely interested in sending you an invoice but get a buzz out of seeing your site make it to the top.
The above points are basic elements of having a sturdy website to market. Once you have the above in place and a marketing budget you can start marketing/promoting your website. If you are interested in investing your time and effort to push your Website forward, watch this space for ideas on how you can market your Website in the next edition.
This article is written to provide with a general guidance on marketing your Website. If you would like to speak to Keerti Baker about the above subject please contact her on the below details. Alternatively, you can review this article below.
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