Five questions you should ask before promoting or redesigning your website

If you’re anything like me, you don’t have a lot of time to spend on websites that can’t quickly and easily communicate what they’re about.

Here are five things you should check on your website before you spend any more time promoting it or in advance of a redesign. If you can’t subjectively view your site through the eyes of a customer, ask your partner, mother, neighbour instead. Do it today, the results might surprise you.

1. Can I identify who the company is if I enter the site on any page? This will often happen through search. Prominent logos and strap lines should appear on every page.

2. What does the company do and what does the website offer me? What information, downloads, transactional opportunities exist for me?

3. What can I do now that I’m here? What action prompts are in place – can I watch a video, open a brochure, sign up/register, visit a blog or news page, visit a store?

4. Where I can get started? Which elements from the above can I start looking at now? (Holiday and hotel sites are adept at encouraging instant search in their navigation).

5. Why should I stay? What benefit can this site / business provide for me?

If you’ve just discovered you’re in the business of ‘total integrated efficient streamlined solutions’ you probably  don’t need me to outline the damage this messaging has been doing to your business over time. You’re not alone. The good news though, is that you can do something about it right now.

Marketing Metrics 7: News & blogs

Search is the dominant marketing tool of the moment and rightly so. Most of us use search engines daily when it comes to researching something, whether it is a personal purchase like a car, holiday, DVD or insurance, or a business purchase where the Internet can be used to shortlist suppliers, distributors, partners, agents and graduates. Statistics from the recent B2B Marketing Buyosphere survey support this.

One of the more pressing requirements in ensuring your business is indexed in search results relevant to your business lies in how you rank organically. Pay per click advertising (like Google Adwords which is found on the top and right hand side of Google) can still be used to great effect at launch or during key promotional periods.

However, the sustainable and long term approach to search is in operating a search engine optimised site with regularly updated, keyword rich meta data and on page content. And, this boils down to effective use of news and blogs.

Regularly updating your website news page is critical as changing content remains one of the hallmarks of a dynamic and leading web site. Ensuring new news features on an optimised home page regularly checked by the search engine ‘spiders’ remains one of the key ways of improving your organic listing.

And blogs, the one time hobbyist website, have come of age. With an estimate 130 million blogs on the Internet, there are an essential information resource and way of getting your message out. Sites like WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr offer impressive optimisation because of the high traffic passing through them on a daily basis.

Blogs can be used effectively for business and without the need for layers of approval. Business owners and middle managers can use them to talk about the science, technology behind the product to answer customer service issues and produce and distribute FAQs, or to comment on industry developments. As blogs of this nature are personalised and removed to a degree from the corporate entity, any concern about damage is reduced.

When developing content to drive your profile, the most crucial elements in marketing 2.0 remain the right of reply and the ability to share. Metrics can be set up to measure reads, shares, subscriptions, downloads and many other datasets.

Image: smbmarketingguide

Doing it well or not at all

Launching a brand externally before you’ve prepared the company for the reaction…

Spending money on branding but letting regional managers do what they want with it…

Advertising your product but without  a compelling call to action…

Crafting the most enticing copy imaginable but using tired old stock images in your brochure ware…

Building a database but not using it effectively for relationship and business building purposes…

Sending direct mail but not following up by phone…

Building a beautiful website but not investing a little more in ensuring the world can find it…

Writing a blog but not using RSS, Twitter and your website to distribute it…

Taking space at a major trade show but failing to build an integrated communication campaign around it in advance to drive interest…

Everyone of these (and more) are a crime against marketing but are committed on a daily basis by businesses the world over. Is yours one of them? Isn’t it better to market well or not at all?