With 62 per cent of the UK population now online, marketing expert Keir McConomy looks at how to tailor your website to guarantee positive results for your business
Anybody who’s anybody has a website these days, and with almost 38 million people online in the UK alone, websites are a vital form of marketing for the SME.
But how effectively does your website serve the purpose for which it was built? A website can be a valuable marketing tool and imperative to getting that all-important new business, but only if it is in good shape. So how can you tailor your site to get the best results possible?
1. Make it relevant.
Looking too general or like a jack-of-all-trades will only put off potential new clients. You may be quite capable of extending your services over a variety of sectors, but prospects will only want to see what’s relevant to them. It’s all they need to see.
Tailor your site to suit their needs. Create a series of landing pages appropriate to each sector that you want to target and direct your prospects to the significant section of your site.
This way you can show potential clients exactly what you can do for them, not what you can do for everyone else.
You can also allow the user to filter the content they see - think "one-to-one" website, customising your content to suit your users’ needs. This will give them confidence in you and your services, and provide the crucial first step towards acquiring new business.
2. Present it.
Attracting potential new business to your website is futile if your site is badly presented.
The best websites are user-friendly, clean and easy to navigate. Most people skim read websites, looking to pick out the bits of information relevant to them at the time, so cluttered pages full of slow-loading images and graphics could easily send your prospects heading to the site of your competitors.
Remember that less is often more. Make your pages as easy to read as possible and use graphics sparingly to convey information only when beneficial to your brand or to the message you want to put across.
Make your content original and well-edited. Don't rush to publish mediocre or incomplete articles. Get it right before you get it online – and typos are totally unacceptable. Users equate poor site presentation with poor organisation – so keep it accurate and simple.
Don’t overwhelm your visitors with masses of unnecessary information and imagery.
3. Update it.
An out of date website = an out of date marketing strategy. Keeping your site fresh and up to date should be high on your list of marketing activities. It is a low-cost and invaluable way of keeping your target markets interested in your services. Include recent and relevant news items appropriate to your target markets.
Change case studies and articles regularly to keep your site looking new and well maintained. Keep your contact details clear and updated – all too often I come across an interesting company online, but just cannot figure out how to get in touch with them!
A potential new sales lead will soon lose interest if your site appears disorganised, chaotic or poorly looked after - a sure fire way of losing potential clients to the competition.
4. Optimise it.
A fully optimised website can work wonders on your search engine rankings, directing more traffic to your site and generating more awareness and interest in your company. Good search engine optimisation (SEO) will ensure that your site is search engine 'friendly' and fully accessible by search engine spiders.
This ensures it meets search engine algorithm criteria such as content, relevancy and links from other sites. The outcome will place your site higher in the rankings with the major search engines and directories, improving the number and quality of visitors to your site.
A favourite saying in SEO circles is that no matter how good a website is, it's useless without visitors – so develop your site to rank well in search engine results and it should yield the results you’re looking for.
5. Extend it.
Once your site is fully tailored, take a look at the online marketing opportunities that now exist – they can help you go one step further, generating business leads and offering demonstrable return on your investment (ROI) – unlike many of the costly traditional marketing approaches.
Pay-Per-Lead (PPL) marketing services such as my own company, TheSeed.com, offer a valuable example of this. Here PPL lead generation works on the basis of generating pre-qualified new business leads, at low cost.
The leads are from companies that have expressed an interest in your business or its services - and may have visited your website. It is a cost-effective way to test the water of any new sectors you may want to target, gaining exposure with little cash investment.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is another useful and manageable form of advertising which works alongside your website to direct traffic in your direction.
PPC allows you to buy your way to the top of search result pages by bidding on the keywords you think your target market would type into the search bar – helping push the right sort of web traffic towards your site.
A good website is an important, effective and inexpensive tool to help promote your business, but a bad website could damage your reputation and lose you valuable new business.
Giving your visitors essential and relevant information on your website will avoid wasted time on unnecessary phone calls and trips to irrelevant business meetings at a later stage.
So get your website right. Make it work for your visitors and it will work for you.
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