“Do I need a website?” is no longer a question business owners ask. It’s a given that a business needs a website to have a semblance of respectability and credibility in this day and age. The question today is: Is a website enough?
For businesses looking at the web to add a new dimension to their business, drive visibility, awareness and create new business avenues, the web is the obvious direction to take. But to succeed in a competitive world, you need more than a website.
Why more than a website?
In the days when people used to contemplate the need for a website, the proactive businesses who invested in a professional website were able to steal a march and get ahead of others. Today, every business owner thinks of a website, so what’s going to give you an edge over them? We live in an era where there is convergence everywhere. An era where the world is a global market place. An intensely competitive space, with many corporations spending tens of thousands of dollars to get ahead, you need to things beyond the present and plan for the future. Just having a website will not be enough tomorrow — it no longer is enough today. Here are a five internet marketing essentials you need to consider.
Internet marketing essentials
Creative anticipation is often the key to success. Being proactive in anticipating what future scenarios are likely to be can help you take steps today that will make you ready for the future when it arrives. Fighting today’s marketing challenges is important, but that just helps you stay in contention. If you want to get ahead of the competition, you need to consider some of these marketing essentials while conceptualizing your website and building a marketing plan:
1. Scope of your website
Before you read further, make a list of things you need on your website? When asked to describe their website, most business owners will want to have pages about their business, their products, services, their contact page, etc. Most businesses think of what THEY want to say. Few approach their website from the point of view of their target audience: what does my audience want? What is their pain point? How can we serve my audience through our website? When you approach a website from this point of view, a whole new dimension opens up. How do you build trust, how do you engage with the audience, what kind of content does your audience want? Do you need a section for articles? Do you need a blog? Do you need a discussion forum? A website that would “wow” the visitor is centered around the visitor and you need to scope your website to best serve the visitors you want to attract.
The next thing to think about while planning your website is: what’s the point of having a website if no one can find it while searching for products and services you have to offer? A common myth is that search engine optimization is some magic wand that agencies wave over your website to make it rank in search engines. The truth is that SEO should start when you start planning your website. Your website needs to be built to be SEO compliant to give it the best chance. To give your website a chance to attract potential visitors who search for products and services you offer, SEO is an effort that you need to invest in on a sustained basis. Remember that your competitors would be optimizing their websites even if you do not and if you do not invest in SEI, you would be widening the gap your website needs to bridge to become competitive.
The next piece of the marketing puzzle is social media. Search engines now give importance to social signals. This is because social media is equivalent to word of mouth promotion. People are more likely to decide based on what their trusted friends recommend. Social media is about building a community, engaging with the audience where they prefer to be. The catch with social media is that there is no exiting social media efforts. If you STOP social media efforts, you desert a community. This can lead to negative sentiment, rumors and worse. The flip side is, if you make social media work, you could build a loyal customer base that evangelizes your business, introduces new customers to your business and build valuable links and positive social signals that will help your website’s SEO.
The chart here shows research done by Mary Meeker, Morgan Stanley in 2010. The rate at which the usage of internet has been growing suggests that more people will be using the internet on their mobile devices in 2014 than on a desktop or laptop computer. Today, businesses recognize the need for a website but the day isn’t far when the same need for a mobile site will be felt. Would you rather be catching up with the competition then or find yourself ahead of them because you invested in a mobile site while planning a website? There are cost considerations, but the choice is less about the costs investment and more about whether or not you want to be a business leader of the future or someone who is catching up with the strides taken by the competition.
The last piece of the online marketing puzzle you need to consider is whether you want your brand to be local or global. Reaching a global audience and attracting business from around the world is not as difficult using the online marketing channels as it used to be before with traditional marketing. This too is an incremental cost that could have an exponential impact on your business reach and growth.
Choice of a marketing partner
When you make a web marketing plan, do not forget the importance of choosing the right marketing partner. Working with a reputed and professional web design firm like Flying Cow Design ensures that you get more than just a website that works for you. We can meet your online marketing needs through our capabilities in mobile web design, search engine optimization and more. Talk to us about your web design and online marketing needs today.