As ubiquitous as the Internet is, there are still many people who don’t realize how important having a good web presence really is. Or a website at that. When was the last time you searched in the Yellow Pages for a plumber or that new restaurant your friends are talking about…’99? I thought so. But just having a website isn’t good enough- anyone can have that. The key is to have, as the title says, a good web presence.
First Things First
It all starts with a plan. Just like your business plan, an online marketing plan is essential to a successful online authority. Perhaps your business is strictly online. If so, listen up- this is especially for you.
As with a brick and mortar shop, online businesses have a storefront regardless if it’s an eCommerce site or not. The façade of the storefront is now your homepage and the big neon sign with your name on it is now your logo- and it better attract. This is your brand and you need to have a clear understanding of what it represents to you and to your customers. Before anything else is done, establish your brand.
What are you saying and how are you saying it? Both go hand-in-hand and need to be addressed prior to the start of a web project. The purpose of your website needs to be clear and concise; are visitors there to shop, gather more information about what you do or write a review about your establishment? Within 5 seconds of landing on your site a visitor should have a general idea of what you’re about.
Now that you’ve nailed down the content and branding, it’s time to focus on the nucleus of your business- the website. This is your online portfolio, the good to know on your startup, the best place to buy Ping-Pong paddles or whatever it is you do. We briefly talked about branding earlier but this is when you really see it come to life. A reputable and experienced agency will base its design elements on the branding and incorporate the messaging into the call-to-action found within the site. Engaging. What’s so great about a content-stuffed site with no captivating features? Nothing. Give your web agency some creative freedom here and let them show you why you hired them. After all, they’re the web design experts!
Branding, check. Messaging, check. Website, check. Sounds like you’re all done, right? Far from it. The biggest mistake business owners make is creating a website with all the bells and whistles and forgetting to market it. This can be disastrous and will leave you feeling like you just spent several thousand dollars for nothing. The key here is to find an avenue of marketing that suits your end-target as well as your financial needs. Can’t afford a TV spot? Make a YouTube video. Is direct mail not direct enough? Try email marketing- it’s inexpensive and very effective. Are radio ads too costly for the ROI? Start a podcast. Whatever you choose to do make sure it’s going to be done on a consistent basis. You can’t expect to see results from a single press release. There are also a lot of free tools at your disposal for growing an organic following. Social media and blogging are my two favorites; they’re inexpensive and lead to more traffic and subsequent conversions than a lot of paid outreach.
In a nutshell, a good web presence has no formula for success, no stone tablets. There are, however, tips and rough sketches (like these) of what works for the majority across the board. Use this as a map to get you from A to Z but there are still 24 letters left, plenty to make your own path. Good luck!