Many great website concepts are developed, launched. . . and then flop! The primary purpose of a website for any business is to generate increased revenues or reduced costs, or both. If it doesn't meet these goals it's going to be canned. So why do apparently good concepts fail? Because without all the pieces in the puzzle, we can't get the full picture.
How many people currently visit your website each day, week or month? You'd be surprised how many people have lengthy meetings with me about improving their website, but when quizzed about statistics they can't provide any data. The best website in the world is unlikely to pay for itself if only 5 or 10 people are visiting it each week. You must have statistics.
Statistics enable you to establish your current benchmark, monitor your progress, and identify which aspects of your site are successful and which aren't. Products like LiveStats, Webalyser and AWstats will give you detailed information about which pages people are viewing, how long they're staying for, what types of browser and computer they're using (so that you can ensure your site functions correctly in their browser), and how they arrived at your site (for example, were they referred by a search engine or perhaps another commercial website).
Without statistics to measure your success, you'll have no idea whether your website is money well spent or not.
Not getting many people to your site? They need to hear about it! Even if your online catalogue looks fantastic, your advertising copy is eloquently worded, and your shopping experience is a breeze, it's pointless if people don't know it's there. Your statistics will confirm for you how many people are (or aren't) visiting your site, so now you've got a benchmark from which to begin.
How can you promote your site and your business? There's a range of ways, and the exact mix will vary from business to business, and product to product. Search engines are often a great place to start. If you can fine-tune your website so that it shows up on the first page of Google's search results, you may well attract alot of interest. Likewise, you can use paid advertising opportunities such as Google Adwords to ensure that search users are exposed to your advertisement.
However, if you offer a product or service that people aren't aware of and therefore don't search for, you're going to need to use methods which get you in front of them, rather than waiting for them to search for you. This might involve online advertising, cross-promotional activities with another company, or offline strategies including magazine advertising, television, radio, outdoor billboards, direct mail, email marketing, letterbox drops, tradeshows, and more.
If people aren't visiting your site, you'll have to promote it.
The most important component of any marketing/advertising you undertake is always the wording, whether that be on your website or in brochures, flyers, letters, or advertisements.
A great looking website that doesn't tell the potential client what they need to hear, and help them develop an emotional attachment to your company, product or service, is missing out on great opportunities. Simply through improving the wording on a client's brochure, website or other communications, I've been able to double and triple response rates. Spend the time (or pay somebody who understands) to understand what motivates your customers, and how you can word things to generate desire within them and drive them to action. You need to interest them, build trust, show them how you can benefit them, and instil a sense of ‘need’ or urgency that compels them to act now.
Say it right!
What's the purpose of your website? Is it to generate new customers and sales? Is it a customer service facility? Is it primarily to consolidate your image?
If you're selling professional services to senior executives, they're probably not going to buy online with the click of a button. But they do want conveniently accessible information. Perhaps your website improves your relationship with existing clients by enabling them to view account information or project status.
You don't need your website to be all things to all people. You need to determine the key benefits you're seeking, and focus on the features and facilities which deliver that. If your site looks like a retail store and your client is seeking professional consulting, they're not likely to respond appropriately to your website. Take the time to agree with your internal management, web developers, and any other stakeholders, what the real objectives of the site are, and then stick to them.
Do the right job, and do it well
If you've come up with a great website design but haven't covered the topics mentioned above, don't be puzzled when it fails!
1. Know the facts about who's visiting your site, and continue to follow this data as you undertake any marketing in order to gauge your success.
2. Promote your site, but be sure to use appropriate channels. Cross-media promotions (web, brochures, magazines, etc. . . ) tend to have a multiplying effect, but you need to understand where your intended customers are likely to be so that you can capture their attention.
3. Say it right - hire an experienced, successful copywriter if necessary, as this is the most important aspect of your advertising tools. Compel buyers to act by attracting them to the benefits, and don't bore them with technical waffle.
4. Use the right tools for the right job. Decide what you're trying to achieve with your website, and ensure that it serves this purpose/s extremely well. If you want new business and sales, target potential new customers and their needs. If you want to improve service delivery to existing clients, focus on the needs of your established clients, which probably vary significantly from a new client.