Marketing With Your Website

The hidden-in-plain-sight truth when you have an online business is that its survival is tied in with how good your marketing is. If you have a product but don’t have a market, your business will fail. If you have a good product and an eager market but fail to communicate the value of your product to your target audience, your business will fail.

Look at the role of your website in marketing: From an online perspective, your website’s goal is to help people find your business.  At the very least it should provide enough information for visitors to see the nature of your business and learn how to get in touch with you. And at the most basic level, your website has to offer information about your products in services in a way that will hook visitors into wanting more information — or guide them into taking action, whether it’s to sign up or make a purchase, something  that your site should also help them do easily.

You need to keep a constant eye on the following aspects of your website and its design, content, and security:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a given.
You’re online, but so are a millions of other businesses. Making yourself easy to find to the right audience is essential to the survival of your business. You need customers — help them find you fast, give them the information they need in a convincing manner, and make it easy for them to see you as the solution-provider to their dilemma.

Clear, simple, easy navigation is part of the secret in the user experience.
Casual visitors may not know it when it’s there, but they will know when it’s not.  Use your website and webpages in such as way as to subtly guide visitors. Like sowing a breadcrumb trail for the visitor to follow, guide them into action, like in the case of sign-ups. or to make a purchase, or create an account.

Think of the psychological triggers that motivate people to do the things they do.  Product recommendations are a proven way of boosting sales because we’re curious and like to know what other people are buying. The more people recommend a product, the more value that product gains in your eyes because, hey, with these many people liking it, it must be good, right?

It works  the same way with scarcity and sales. When you put a limit on the number of items, or the amount of time left –or both — people are triggered into making purchases because to their eyes, time is running out to get dwindling supplies.

You can tailor your website’s content and lay-out to use the subtle triggers and influences that would steer visitors into the sales funnel, and at the bottom line, succeed in making your business profitable.

Clear, simple, easy purchase and check-out.
Painless one-click transactions also help meet consumer’s expectations of quick service. For example, with overnight and 2-day delivery times setting expectations, consumers today want things done fast and done easy.  When your site is optimized to  subtly support these expectations, it promotes a good business image in the minds of your customers.

Clear Calls-to-action.
CTA buttons — click to like, click to share, buy now, add-to-cart, get your download here, etc. — are great visual encouragements that line in with online behavior of clicking on links and buttons for more info. When you set up the CTA with a simple action, (click ‘this’ opens up a  form to enter information, for example) the customer just completes the second half of the click-to ‘action‘.

Easy mailing list sign-up.
Well-designed opt-in forms (2-5 fields) help make it a no-brainer sign-up for special content in exchange for information (email address, etc). And information is currency in marketing. It helps compose  a more comprehensive picture of your committed audience (your sign-ups, your customers who made one or several purchases) for you to analyze and refine your marketing tactics on.

Providing engaging, updated content.
People are used to getting fresh content and frequent updates, you can habituate them to visiting your website with good content, and this also helps with SEO. On a stronger note, good content lets you establish authority and trustworthiness among the members of your market, which by itself carries a lot of weight in your favor.

Are you updated?
A website isn’t just plug and go– it needs to be maintained if it is to offer any sort of trustworthy, secure presence online, and that has to be budgeted for.

Additionally, as time passes technology changes and software content management systems (CMS), and security threats need to be handled properly as well. That takes money not just for software, but for  website design,  site maintenance, security and regular monitoring. If you have a healthy mobile market, security should also extent to MCMS (mobile content management systems) for mobile-optimized marketing and content.

Helpful article: Do You Have A Mobile Strategy?    

Another thing is content — in-house or outsourced, you need to budget for that, and not just the production of written content but any visuals and videos too (license-free, stock photos, personal, commissioned, etc.)

Are you secured?
Internet security is an integral part of running an online business. It’s not just having a  secure website for check-out and payment processing, but also secure data storage and access. This applies to business data (customer and payment information) and internal data (records, marketing data and analysis, and the like.)

Helpful articles:
Data Storage Solutions
Disaster Recovery and Your Business

The SMART Guide to Back-ups: Protect Your Data   
The SMART Guide to Back-ups: Online Data and Syncing 
The SMART Guide to Back-ups: Archiving 

Are you covered?
Sometimes it happens, things get overlooked: your domain name registration expires and it wasn’t on auto-renew. So until you remember, or see a 404 message or an email reminder to renew your registration, you may not realize your website is effectively offline and you’re losing business. Same with hosting and hosting fees. There are small details — you can pay in advance or enroll in auto-renew mode, but you need to pay attention and handle then, record them and make a reminder for the next time the item  should be renewed.

Regular maintenance is a business must, and so is a business expense. Factor this in when you’re  creating and updating your yearly budgeting forecasts. It’s important because your website is the main funnel for all you online marketing activities. It’s the best place to collect the data you need about your market. You take care of it so it can make you money.

What else do you need to spend on? List things down and make an estimate based on past records. Lay out an overall budget — then quarter it, breaking it down even more. What activities are important? How much per activity?

Think of what it takes to fill up a website: copy writing, visual content (photos, videos, graphics, illustrations, etc.) Website design and security checks, SEO…go through each line by line.

Helpful article: Is Your Website Optimized For Lead Generation?

You have to be clear — you website design concepts need to link up in your mind to provide you a clear picture as to the ultimate goal of your website. This is like the nail on which everything else hands from, your fixed point.

If you want promotion and branding  you can have a team design and create the content for a downloadable brochure showing your products (with embedded links and all the information the customers need to make a purchase). You can have an image-heavy site to appeal to the particular target market , and to accommodate this you can do several tweaks behind the scenes so your site will load faster and make the user experience  fast and flawless.

Then you can align your website lay-out, content and visuals towards lead capture and revenue generation. By using analytic tools, you can determine which pages on your website are the most visited ones, and focus on tweaking those accordingly so you can use the data you gather for further segmentation. This  gives you a better grasp on visitor and customer demographics, so you can also further refine you content and email marketing efforts.

By being clear about your fixed point, your efforts on the website would be more focused. Say you bear down on segmenting the  biggest sources of traffic for your site, once you’ve identified those, you can reinforce the main source (things like  breaking down the elements of your most successful ads, using SEO results) and be able to back those up with targeted action, like refining and focusing on the top keywords for your website. All of this is to get better and better at communicating to and with your market that you are a good, trustworthy solution provider and source of reliable help to their particular requirements. Keep it up, and you won’t have to worry exceedingly about doing good because you already are.

Helpful article:
Using the Personal Touch In Marketing

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