The Internet plays a huge part in many people’s daily lives. When looking for goods or services, our first instinct now is to go online, whereas previously we may have scoured the high street or used a phone directory. So making best use of the internet could be vital to the success of your company; if you don’t, you could lose out to competitors who are more tech-savvy.
Think carefully about what you want your website to contain. Some ideas include:
- Description of what your company does
- Lists of products and/or services offered
- Unique selling points – what sets you apart from your competitors?
- Online booking and/or ordering facility
- About us section – most likely to be relevant if you offer a professional service and want to advertise the technical expertise, experience and qualifications of your staff
- Testimonials from satisfied clients
- Contact details – phone, address, fax, email etc.
It is possible to set up a rudimentary do-it-yourself website at a very low cost, but the functionality of such a site will be limited. Consider what features you want from your site – for example, do you want details of new product launches or special offers to flash up on the site, or do you want to play music or videos to visitors to the site? It may be best to seek the advice of a professional web design company who can guide you through the options available and what they might cost.
Register more than one domain name. You might purchase the domain names of your company with both .com and .co.uk as a suffix. You may also want to have some domain names that relate to your most popular products. Make use of Google Analytics you know how many people have visited your site and which pages are converting well.
Search Engine Optimisation
It is of little benefit spending money on a website if very few people see it. You need to think about how to get certain keywords into both the website content and the coding of the site, and for the latter, seeking professional help is recommended. Think carefully about what you want your keywords to be – these might include names of products or brands or services mixed with your location.
This can be an excellent way of communicating with potential customers without significant expenditure. Whereas in years gone by, companies may have printed their newsletter and sent it out to each recipient via regular post, you can now design a professional looking bulletin and email it to a large number of recipients at the click of a button.
Your email newsletter can be used to highlight new products or services, special offers and events. It may also be appropriate to tell people about new staff appointments, or details of company successes, e.g. signing a major contract with another organisation.
You could collect email addresses of recipients from online sales, or from asking visitors to your company to sign up. Ensure that you only send the email to those who have consented to receive it, and that you include a link for those wishing to unsubscribe from mailings.
These are often thought of as vehicles to aid social interaction between friends, but many companies have successfully used social networks as a marketing tool. They allow you to post announcements about company successes, new product or service offerings, special offers and staff appointments, and allow you to tell the outside world the good news instantly – no need to wait for the publication of the next newsletter. Posts with images attached have been shown to be more effective, and posts which invite comments from followers can also be of benefit.
Again you need to think about ways of encouraging people to become your company’s friends, followers etc on the appropriate social networks. You might do this by advertising your social network presence on your website, in your email newsletter or in your company premises. Many companies update their social media on a daily basis.
Have you got news about your organisation you really want to share, such as a new product or service launch, or a new staff appointment? You may be able to get the news item published in the trade press for your industry and perhaps in your local press as well. The publication is also likely to have a website, meaning that in addition to getting a valuable mention in the print edition, your internet presence is likely to be enhanced as well.
Alternatively, if you have lots of experience in your business sector, you may be able to persuade a media outlet to publish a comment piece, written by you, about a key issue relating to your industry.
If you can’t get the mainstream media interested in covering you, search the Internet for any niche blog sites relevant to your industry, and try and get it published there. Failing that, seek out one of the many free press release sites on the web, and post something there.
Is It Really Worth It?
Before you fully embrace Internet marketing though, think carefully about whether you expect to benefit from it. It may be your natural instinct to embrace the latest technology, but if no one ever visits your website, the money you have spent on design, content writing and hosting will be wasted.
Do you have an older client base, or are your clients drawn from another group who are less likely to use technology? Or do you operate in a field where it is unusual to make use of online marketing? Look at what your competitors are doing in Internet marketing. If none of them are making use of the Internet, there is probably a good reason for this.