The web is a great source of low cost advertising and business, when compared to traditional media, for any company. Unfortunately, many businesses do not make use of this great resource available and fail to exploit the potential of the web or their own site to maximise their exposure online.
A web site is your shop window online. How people view your site is how perceptions are set about your business. A simple design with minimal content or information and plenty of pictures may be fine but does this really reflect your values or service? It is often underestimated just how a poor quality or limited site can impact a business offline and the revenue it generates.
Perception is everything and in such the social environment that the internet has become perceptions can spread fast. Site maintenance is key to ensuring customers and potential customers continue to come back. Keeping content & design fresh and consistently offering something new provides the incentive customers require to visit your business online again.
Your site is essentially a permanent advert that takes minimal time to maintain but with a little care, effort and attention it can transform the performance of any business. As a comparison, a retail store that kept the same old out-dated ad or content in their shop would find it difficult to attract new consumers whose eyes have been turned by more energetic and attractive competitors. A simple example would be that of Marks & Spencer in the late 90’s and early 00’s. Previously a leader of the UK high streets M&S management took their eye off the ball and failed to keep up with younger, more appealing brands such as H&M and Next.
In 2005 however Marks & Spencer sat up and took notice. A complete re-branding strategy was undertaken online integration was a core part of this mix. Re-energising the brand, updating stock and creating a fresh, streamlined image has seen the company establish themselves once again as a core part of the high street. The M&S website was overhauled and relaunched in late 2009 to compliment their new offline strategy with great success. Within the first 6 months after launch online sales jumped up 32%.
Keep your website fresh, giving people a reason to come back. 7 out 10 people will scan a home page in less than 3 seconds, if you have nothing of interest or nothing new since their last visit why would people come back?
Use professionally taken images either from an image stock site or get someone in – again you would not use, for example, photos taken on your phone for your brochures or leaflets.
Create a call to action! Many sites offer great content/products/services but fail to make that count. Developing a clear call to action not only compliments your content but ensures visitors understand where to go or what to do next if they are interested in your offering.
Have quick links to other areas of your website if you have other promos or secondary information.
There are many sites out there that simply fail to put in place standard practices across their website that should be used to complement their offline strategy. More so than ever a business’s website should form a core part of the marketing strategy. Offline and online are not 2 independent functions. Services, process, marketing and any other area of operational activity should be streamlined and integrated to send a consistent message to customers or potential customers.
Over the next few weeks we will run a series of blogs on key elements of web design and strategic integration that are often ignored but can prove costly. If you would like any information on the content of this series then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.