Do you know how your web
site fits into the overall marketing strategy for your business? Do
you have a strategy for your web site as a marketing tool? If you're
like many entrepreneurs I speak with, you probably don't.
All over the world, small
business owners are spending thousands of dollars on building and
maintaining web sites without being able to answer one big question:
What do you want your web site to do?
Creating a web site
without a marketing strategy can be an expensive and time-consuming
mistake. Here's an illustration from the more familiar world of paper
and postage. Imagine that you hired a graphic designer, printed 5000
four-color tri-fold brochures, and when the boxes arrived, you asked
yourself, "Gee, what shall I do with these?"
That scenario may sound a
bit embarrassing as it stands, but let's take it further. Suppose the
first idea that occurs to you is mailing your new brochure to a list
of 500 names you collected by exhibiting at a trade show. But then you
realize that you didn't design the brochure as a self- mailer -- all 6
panels are filled with graphics and copy.
To mail your brochure, you
will now need 500 envelopes. Of course you want to use the ones
printed with your address and logo, but how much do those cost a
piece? And do you have 500 in stock? What will be the cost in money or
time to get envelopes printed, addressed, and stuffed? How long will
all this take? Was any of this in your budget when you had the
The brochure example can
tell us much about what goes wrong in creating web sites. Many sites
are constructed to be simply electronic brochures. Entrepreneurs often
get their sites designed by sending their printed brochure to a web
designer, and saying, "Put this on the Web."
So here's what is wrong
with that. If you want your web site to attract traffic, your web site
must be DESIGNED to attract traffic.
You have a choice in
designing your site and integrating it with your overall marketing
strategy. You can choose to make your site an electronic brochure with
no consideration of how to attract visitors built into the design. If
you do this, it means that you must direct traffic to your site by
other means -- advertise, promote, exhibit, speak, write, network,
prospect, mail, call, etc.
Unfortunately, most small
business owners find this out after the fact. They put up the site and
then slowly realize that no one is seeing it. So they start spending
time and money on banner ads, on-line malls, classifieds, postcards,
bulk email, posting articles, exchanging links, and more.
The alternative is to
design your site to attract traffic in the first place. If you're
going to spend all the time and money to build a web site, doesn't it
make more sense to have the site bring you customers rather than you
having to bring customers to the site?
To create a high-traffic
web site, it must be search-engine friendly. 85-90% of all web site
traffic comes from search engines. When a customer types in a keyword
phrase you hope will bring them to you, your site needs to be one of
the top 10-30 results shown or that customer will never get to you. To
earn top positions in the major search engines, you or your web
designer must know the guidelines each engine uses to create its
rankings, and mold your site to meet them.
Some of these guidelines
relate to the content of your site, and how it is organized. Others
have to do with the technical details of how your site is constructed.
If you don't want to know these specifics, you'd better hire someone
who does. That's the problem with letting just anyone who calls
themselves a web designer create a site for you.
Looking at a designer's
portfolio of completed sites will tell you only a small part of what
you need to know about their abilities. Who wrote the content for
those sites? Who designed the page layout and navigation? Where did
the graphics come from? And here's the most important question: What
did the designer do to make those sites search-engine friendly?
It's a rare person who
possesses the four-way combination of design ability, technical
expertise, marketing know-how, and search engine savvy to create an
attractive, useful web site that will attract traffic AND generate
paying customers. You know which of these capabilities you already
have, and what new skills you're willing to learn. Make sure you hire
people who have the rest.
C.J. Hayden is the author
of Get Clients NOW! Since 1992, C.J. has been teaching business owners
and salespeople to make more money with less effort. She is a Master
Certified Coach and leads workshops internationally. Read more of her
articles at www.getclientsnow.com