This is something I hear often when speaking with clients who come to me initially for help marketing their websites. My immediate reply is “Well, what would you like it to do for you?” 9 times out of 10, I get a blank stare or a long pause in response. Many businesses don’t lend much thought to what they would like their websites to do for them. It’s not their fault really. They just didn’t know what a website could do for them.
A website must have a reason to be live. It’s got to have a purpose otherwise it’s just an electronic brochure. From a marketing viewpoint, brochures are cost effective but a website can be made to do so much more. So what can a website “Do” for you?
Online Sales & E-CommerceYour website can be your 24/7/365 sales team that never quits, never takes a break, never complains, never goes on strike. If you sell small to medium products that can be shipped locally, nationally, or globally, this might be the right online model for you. Sales and many other sales-related metrics can be tracked so you can begin to see how your website is working for you.
Lead GenerationSome businesses, particularly service-oriented businesses like consulting don’t lend themselves well to the E-commerce model. If your business sells high-ticket items or provides consulting services, then your focus should be on generating leads for yourself or your sales force. Forget about trying to sell an expensive consulting package over a website that requires a more personal touch. In this case, people just won’t whip out their credit cards without talking to a person first. Convincing visitors to sign up for a newsletter, apply for site membership, or request information online are methods that can be used to generate leads. This data can then be applied to tracking the success of your sales efforts.
Customer Service & SupportWhenever a question arises in a visitor’s mind, the first inclination is to pick up the phone and ask. Anytime this can be avoided by providing the information online falls into the customer service & support area. Your business can determine how many people clicked on a particular Frequently Asked Question, how many people checked to see if a specific product is in stock, and how many people downloaded a printable brochure. Each one of these means that your in-store staff members spend less time answering questions on the phone and more time serving customers in-store.
Combined StrategySome businesses even make use of all three models for maximum effect. For example:
- A book vendor could sell books online and then track their sales. (Online Sales & E-Commerce)
- A newsletter, personalized with information about new books matching a subscriber’s reading interests. “Would you like to receive updates on new books that match your reading interests? Please check off all the categories below that apply and enter your email address in the box” (Lead Generation)
- A user-friendly search function that allows people to search for books they’re interested, suggests related reading, and informs the visitor whether the product is in stock would free up considerable time that a staff member would be on the phone assisting a customer with the same information. (Customer Service & Support)
Of course, these strategies range from very simple to very complex and the list is by no means complete. There are probably dozens of other goals that can be measured and they vary from business to business. The thing to remember is that how you employ these models is not as important as moving forward and actually employing them. Remember what I said earlier? A website must have a reason to be live.
A skilled Internet Marketing company should work with your company to define reasonable and measurable goals. They can provide ways to help you calculate your return on investment so that you know how well your website is working or identify areas you need to improve. At this point, you’ll know exactly “What your website is doing for you” Better still: You’ll now have the information you need to make your website do more of it.
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