KEY TAKEAWAY – It’s usually NOT your company’s website that gets to make that all-important “first impression” on your new prospects – but it certainly IS key.
Contrary to popular belief, your company’s website is usually one of the last things about you a prospect will see before contacting you or making an actual buying decision.
But let’s go ahead and talk about it right now anyhow because it really is the centerpiece of your company’s entire online marketing strategy.
Your website is one of the most valuable advertising assets your business has. You control it – its message, its look, feel and features, its value to your visitors.
There are hundreds of options for free websites out there if you want to build one yourself. WordPress.com, Weebly.com, and Wix.com are 3 of the most popular. They’re easy to use but somewhat limited in functionality. Be forewarned, also, that the tech support, if offered, may be sketchy & premium upgrades may be pushed on you.
If you self-host your website (and you should), it comes closest to being one of the few online assets you can accurately say you “own”.
It’s not perishable like direct mail postcards or letters, thrown out after barely being glanced at. It doesn’t disappear into your recycle bin like the ads placed in daily newspapers & monthly magazines.
It doesn’t evaporate into thin air like radio and TV advertisements do, fleeting memories that are quickly dismissed and forgotten.
No, your website is your beacon that guides new prospects – and new business – to you. It’s where you get to tell your story, your way.
It’s the 24×7 online equivalent of a company’s billboard, blinking steadily at all the cars speeding along that massive information superhighway we call the internet, hoping to catch their eye as they zoom by searching for you.
Your website has 5 key goals:
- educating your audience
- branding your company
- establishing your market authority
- generating leads and sales
- building relationships
Simplicity is still a virtue, though.
People must be able to tell within 6 seconds of landing on your website that they’re in the right place. Many studies show that website visitors decide within that short span of time whether or not it’s worth staying there any longer.
So use a simple home page with easy-to-follow, well-marked navigation to grab your visitor’s attention and help them easily find other pages on the site that have the information they’re looking for. Think of the home page as a “directory” for the rest of your website.
Many of your visitors will simply be looking for contact information, like a phone number to call……and too many websites don’t even get this right.
It’s amazing how many businesses make this simple design mistake – burying their phone number on their homepage or in their websites, making it that much harder for new prospects to initiate contact with them.
The best location for the phone number is in the top-right corner of your website, on every page, and in text format instead of embedded in an image (so the search engine “spiders” can read it and index it).
Your website should be designed to help new prospects get to know your company better and encourage them to extend the “conversation” with you by phone or by walking through your front door.
Your website is the centerpiece of your online web, getting many of its new visitors every day from your other online “properties” they stumbled across first. Your business listings like Google+, video websites like YouTube, and social media websites like Facebook should all have links pointing back to your main website.
If you build your web as widely as you can, with your branded website at its center, put it all in the right places where the right people see it – the more high-quality prospects will come your way.
Internet marketing can be a bit complicated but it isn’t rocket science. Like anything worthwhile, it takes some time and effort but most people can do it. Just follow the steps I’m laying out for you and you’ll probably surprise yourself with the results.
NEXT UP: We’ll examine some of THE most important online assets you can use to market your business with – and make yourself look like a rock star.