I believe there are three major stages to marketing a product or service on the Internet:
- Design and build your website
- Drive traffic to your site
- Get visitors to take an action you want
Okay, admittedly these three tasks are much easier said than done. But let’s look at each one individually.
Design and build your website
Presumably, you’ve already done this or you wouldn’t be receiving this newsletter. But there are always important considerations that are worth revisiting (and these may change over time). Does your website convey clearly what you do and what you are offering? This would seem to be obvious, but you’d be surprised how many websites fail to explain succinctly what the enterprise is about. If it is not absolutely clear, then you need a paragraph on your home page that tells anyone who might be unsure precisely what you do.
Second, are your most important messages presented on your home page? Don’t make people look through your site to find what you want them to know first and foremost. Lastly, is your site well-designed? Don’t underestimate the value of an attractive, well designed site. People judge you by what they see. If it is jumbled, too busy, badly laid out or otherwise poorly designed and organized, you are sending the wrong message. So, even though you already have a site, look at it with these questions in mind. If you can’t say with certainty your site meets these criteria, consider redesigning it.
Drive traffic to your site
There are so many ways to promote your site and increase the number of people who look at it that it is almost impossible to list them all. Approaches can be divided into online and offline efforts. I won’t go into much about the offline approaches, but they include any promotion you do that is NOT on the Internet. So that would include advertising in traditional newspapers, magazines and trade publications. It can include writing articles in print outlets and giving speeches. It can be as simple as networking and handing out business cards.
Online promotion is equally wide-ranging. I like to start with optimizing a website for well-thought out keyword phrases. After that, there are many choices available. One is paid search engine listings, such as Google AdWords. Another is obtaining reciprocal links from other relevant and important websites. And there is advertising on other sites, publishing online articles, getting listed in directories and placing ads and links on complementary sites. Then there is the whole growing area of Social Networking. This includes writing your own blog, responding to others’ blogs, creating a Facebook fan page, becoming active in LinkedIn and much more. In short, you can announce your product or service any number of ways on line and cause more people to go to your website.
Get visitors to take an action you want
All right. You’ve built a great site and now you have plenty of visitors. You still have a problem at this stage if your visitors just look at your site, say “that’s nice” and go away. Now that you’ve gotten people to your site, most website owners want them to DO SOMETHING. It may be you want them to call you, email you, fill out an order form, download an article, pay for a product or service, or sign up for your newsletter.
Whatever it is, somehow you want to engage them. You want your visitors to act and you’d like them to come back in the future. So, the question is how do you come up with a good “call to action?” This question has different answers for different types of websites. A non-profit typically seeks a donation, so what prompts people to donate? It may be an explanation of what your money actually accomplishes or it may be a statement about being a “special” person who cares in this way. For a law firm, the goal may be to get a phone call from the visitor and the inducement to take that action could be the fact that an actual lawyer will be on the other end of the line when you call. A third example might be a travel company where signing up for a trip online earns the buyer a special free gift, like a camera. Free giveaways are always good. Likewise, a chance to enter a contest can appeal to certain visitors. A good call to action requires careful thought tailored to the specific enterprise and its target market.
If you want help with any of these tasks, please don’t hesitate to ask us. We’re here to help make your enterprise succeed.