Top 7 Guidelines For Profitable Online Marketing
By William Swayne
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Almost any business can have a profitable website, and it doesn’t have to be an online shop. Websites are also an excellent lead generation tool. If the value of each new customer that you bring into your business is relatively high, you only have to generate a trickle of leads online to turn a profit.
One more point: There’s a big difference between web design (placing text and graphics online) and web marketing (making money out of your website). Website design is only one part of web marketing. This article focuses on web marketing, because that’s our area of specialization. To get the best results, you should evaluate your planned or existing website against each of these 7 Guidelines.
- Strategic Planning: Decide what the purpose of your website is, then build your content around that. Is it to generate sales leads? To make sales online? To act as a customer support tool?
After defining your objective, draw up a simple site plan on paper. An hour spent planning now saves 10 hours later. Also use search engines to look at what other people in your industry are doing. What do you like about their websites? Could you incorporate the same idea into yours? What could you improve on? How can you differentiate yourself from them?
- Website design: My advice is: keep it simple. A clean, uncluttered look is best for most situations (or rather, it can take forever to pay off the additional investment in high-concept web design). Some other things to avoid:
- “Splash” pages (an entry page that doesn’t contain much written content)
- Flash animation (it takes too long to download and isn’t indexed well by search engines). When used well Flash can be great, but in most cases normal text and graphics will do a better job of selling.
- Large graphics (take too long to download)
Excellent usability: Usability is how quickly and easily visitors can find what theyre looking for on your website. Usability is one of the most important factors in determining whether users will return to your website (according to consulting firm AM+A, IBM increased their online shop sales by 400% simply by improving the usability of their website navigation). http://www.useit.com is an excellent free resource on usability.
- Credibility building: Your ability to establish credibility is critical if you’re asking website visitors to buy from you or contact you for more information. Internet users won’t contact you or buy from you until they’re convinced you’re honest and legitimate. As a minimum, you can build credibility by including all your contact details, including a physical address (not just a P.O. Box). Also include testimonials or case studies from satisfied customers, including links and photos if possible.
- Good web copy (your “words”): Web design doesn’t sell - words sell. Investing in professionally written sales copy will pay for itself. If you do decide to do it yourself, make sure you emphasize your benefits, and test different approaches against each other. Improving your website copy can increase your website sales by 200% or more, literally overnight.
- A Relationship-Building Strategy: First time visitors to your website will seldom buy. (Studies suggest that the average first time purchaser buys on their 7th visit.) So it’s vital that you have a strategy for gaining repeat visits.
At a minimum, you should have an email newsletter or informational report to give away in exchange for the user’s email address. You MUST build a list, then offer the clients on the list valuable information about your area of expertise. Over time you’ll convert more and more users into customers. If your relationship building strategy is weak, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table.
- A traffic generation strategy: The best website in the world won’t help you if no one ever sees it. Building website traffic is an ongoing process, but you can achieve good results if you follow these tips:
- Use the Wordtracker Database (wordtracker.com) to discover which keywords and search terms will get the most traffic. It costs about AU$10 to use the database for 24 hours, and it’s money well spent. The best time to use Wordtracker is before you’ve started designing any content.
- Regularly add quality content to your website. If you add a new page or article every week, in a year you’ll have 52 pages. If your content is good, you’ll get other websites linking to yours, and your traffic will grow accordingly.
- Use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising such as Google AdWords. You can often achieve excellent results by bidding on search terms like this: [your industry] [your location]. For example, if you’re a printer located in Sydney, bid on search terms like printer Sydney and Sydney printer etc. This strategy won’t work in every situation, but it’s a good start in many cases.
- Learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and consider investing in professional SEO services.
William Swayne is a copywriter and small business marketing consultant based in Brisbane, Australia. He can be contacted at http://www.Marketing-Results.com.au
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Article Submitted On: February 24, 2005