We see it all the time – companies spend thousands of rands on beautiful graphic-rich websites, only to leave them floating in the WWW, undiscovered by potential customers.
Ten years ago, if you had a website you were pretty cutting edge. Today, if you don’t, you’re dead in the water. That’s not to say you won’t trade. But the opportunities missed are significant. I, for one, will rarely do business with a company that hasn’t got some sort of digital presence. It makes me think they’re mediocre and not in tune with current trends.
Websites, now more than ever before, are critical for business. They are the first port of call for potential customers that want to find out more about what you do. And, as more and more people opt for email rather than the telephone, it’s how they contact you too.
Convert prospects into clients
Think of your website as an online business card. But rather than being an ostentatious rectangle of contact data, it should represent a fully-fledged, interactive brochure of everything that you are as a business. More so, however, is that your website has to convert potential prospects into customers.
That is all pretty straight forward, and obvious. But how exactly are customers finding your website amongst the plethora of other sites on the web? Chances are that unless you’ve directed them there via some sort of printed medium, they not visiting it at all.
Website management is a task all on its own, and it’s often over looked by business owners.
Let’s forget about Facebook and Twitter for the moment, and focus purely on your web domain.
What is the first step a customer takes to find you on the internet? If you answered Google, you’re right.
Understanding your customers
There are two types of customers using Google at this point. One knows your company name via reputation or referral, and is actively searching for your website. The other, is actively searching for a product or service you specialise in. You want to target the latter.
But how do you make sure your company, who for the sake of this article sells office equipment, is the one that shows up when “paper trays” gets typed into the Google search bar?
The answer lies in intelligent Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing practices. SEO and SEM make Google’s algorithm ‘see’ your website as being an authority in that field and display it higher up on the results pages. The higher up it’s displayed the more chance it stands to get seen and get clicked.
Since we’ve now got the customer to our site, how do we get them to make a purchase, or leave a message?
First determine what your website’s end goal is- What are you going to base your conversion rate on? If it’s purely to acquire leads via a contact form, then the amount of times that form gets submitted, will give you a conversion rate.
If the site is ecommerce enabled, then the completed sale of an item would be the conversion.
In order to up the conversion rate, your website has to be optimised to make the user experience flawless. Usability is key in enabling a visitor to navigate quickly and easily to the information he or she needs.
However, all of this elementary unless the traffic to your site is monitored, analysed and evolved to get the most out of it. Your entire site should be under constant review to ensure a steady traffic flow, and an increasing conversion rate. Should there be a flat spot, it needs to be rectified and constantly made better. No one likes a dead website. People want to know that the site they’re engaging with has life behind it. It’s a direct reflection of your company.
Social media should be the last step in your digital strategy. These pages should complement your Website and company by acting as a forum for your existing client base, above all else. Yes, they can be used as further marketing platforms, but there is more value in building long standing relationships with existing clients, than drowning them in special offers.
Websites are critical when it comes to having a worldwide presence. But they can’t be created and left to linger in cyberspace. They’re no different to physical stores, or above the line marketing campaigns. They need to be alive in order to get the most out of them. And so often, they miss their true potential.
All that said though, a digital presence is only as good as the people behind it.