More and more businesses are moving operations on-line and for good reason. While print advertising revenues are dropping, web-based ad revenues are increasing every year.
That’s a fact that you, as a business owner, should keep in mind as you plan your marketing strategy for the next couple of years.
If you don’t have a responsive web site (one that resizes for all types of devices), build one or have one built for you. Find a web host that provides all the tools and free features you need to build, run and publicise your site. It should cost you less than $20 a month for quality hosting with tech support in the same building where your site resides on one of a few dozen banks of servers.
However, building a web brand isn’t quite so easy. With more than a billion web sites all competing for eyeballs, it’s hard to stand out, but it is possible. And, it can help your existing clients – keeping them a part of your client base – and your web site can make it easy for new clients to (1) sign on for your services or (2) contact you for additional information about your services.
If you do have a web site, does it generate leads? Does it bring in new clients? Does it convert site visitors to buyers? If not, you’ve probably got a digital relic built years ago and left untouched.
Building a brand on-line takes time and thought. What image do you want to project: sedate professional who can be trusted or “the kraziest prices in all of Brisbane at TuneShaxx.”
1. Understand the needs of your demographic.
Your web content should be informational and targeted at meeting the needs of your visitors, not YOUR business needs. If you’re a business owner, your objective is to drive more site visitors to sign up with you, or at least snag an email address so you can back sell.
However, that’s not what the site visitor wants – not his or her objective. Site visitors are looking for information, comparison shopping or maybe just snooping around. We all do it, bouncing from one site to another. Web surfing – and you want to be riding the crest of the web wave.
Understanding the needs and common questions of customers helps craft text that provides answers and creates good will. You aren’t hyping visitors, you’re helping them. And when they need services, who they going to call? The company that helped – yours.
2. Optimize your site for local search.
Most businesses have a service area of 150 square kilometres or so. They aren’t looking for sign-ups in Liberia. They want sign-ups from their local service area.
Optimize for local search by including your company name, address, postal code and telephone number at the top of your home page and on every page of the site. And speaking of every page of the site…
3. …make it simple to perform the “most desired action” or MDA.
The MDA could be “pick up the phone to call me.” It could be “sign up for our newsletter,” fill out a form or buy something. The simpler it is to perform the MDA, the more likely that action is taken.
Revamping antediluvian web sites to start counting clicks from the time the site visitor lands. How many clicks does the visitor have to make to perform the MDA? The more clicks, the fewer MDAs performed. The correlation is rock solid and proven in numerous studies. So count clicks. Your site visitors shouldn’t have to click more than three links to get to the information or form download they need, with a final click on the Contact Us page of your web site.
4. Display emblems and other credibility builders.
Display industry association logos to which you belong. Green web hosting is the next generation of hosting services and displaying a green host logo on your home page makes a branding statement about your corporate culture. You’re a good corporate citizen.
5. Add trust builders.
Join the on-line Better Business Bureau (or similar) and display their logo proudly. It builds trust, it builds a brand and it increases the likelihood that site visitors stick around long enough to learn about your service or product offerings.
If your site includes a shopping cart and check-out, sign up with secure service and make sure your buyers are reassured every step of the way that they’re information is secure.
Generate an immediate email confirming the order. Many companies now provide a tracking number so you can track the progress of your latest package as it moves across the country or around the world. Build trust. Build a brand.
Old school: a brand is your company logo and maybe some embossed stationery and business cards.
New school: you have less than 10 seconds to make your brand known and understood by a site visitor. That’s how long visitors give you to impress them.
6. Deliver customer care.
This isn’t just some core value stuck away in an old business plan from 10 years ago. It’s the core of any successful business - today.
Provide numerous means for prospects to contact you. Provide a toll-free telephone number and, after hours, use a call capture service empowered to take orders and provide tier one tech support based on the scripts you and your staff write for the reps.
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, built one of the largest retail outlets globally in just a few short years, and a big part of Amazon’s success is customer care. The folks at Amazon can be reached by phone, email, SMS and even on-line chat, connecting to the buyer one-to-one. That’s client care and that’s branding.
Now that’s how you build a web brand.