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In A Slow Economy Your Website Could Be Your Most Effective Marketing Channel

Wednesday, July 21, 2010   By Mike Reddy


In the current economic climate your marketing, like most other things in your business, has to achieve more with less. So, think about your website. It could be the most important marketing channel you have with much greater reach than the newspaper, radio and TV combined. As in past recessions, the businesses that make the right marketing moves will emerge from the economic downturn in the strongest position. One of those ‘right moves’ according to the experts is to keep up your marketing efforts. Your website should be playing a major role in this so business owners need to take a close look at how they can improve the effectiveness of their website to attract visitors, hold their attention and to eventually sell to them.

Remember, internet marketing is always cheaper than other media. Here are some thoughts on how to expand and improve on what you're doing on your website.

Improve search listing position: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the art and science of developing page text, keywords, metatags and subject headings that will get your site listed high in a search engine’s results page. If you haven’t already done so, then now is the time to invest in hiring a web developer to optimise your site. It’s worth the cost of some professional advice because SEO is the cheapest form of internet advertising and really contributes to conversion rate, but it can’t be done by guesswork. Web developers have the knowledge and the tools to do it right.

SEO can also align your website to current customer concerns by introducing words like ‘discounted’, ‘cheaper’, ‘low prices’, ‘sale’ – words likely to have increasing resonance with cash strapped consumers. You can make changes like this by adding and/or modifying pages on your website and have them available almost immediately.

Improve stickiness: Keeping people on the site long enough to get them involved and searching your offerings is a battle. Some proven ways of keeping their attention include the freebies on offer, the attractiveness of the webpage, and how easy it is for them to contact you and get questions sorted out right away.

Free Reports (aka White Papers) can be offered no strings attached or as an incentive to an opt-in subscription to your email newsletter. Create them as Word or PDF documents so people can download and print them to read at their convenience.  Or, better still, direct them to a page on your website as more and more people are reluctant to download potential virus-ridden documents.

Landing pages have to be visually attractive to visitors so start with the basics – do the colours, fonts, graphics and layout make each page easy to read and present the information clearly? Introducing rich media such as video can provide a very powerful way of promoting product. A blog provides an informal way to update people on what’s happening with the company and get feedback from visitors that may be useful to creating the right product for them or the right marketing message to appeal to them. Rework your marketing copy until every single webpage is a perfect sales letter. Constant improvement of your copy will mean better conversion and better search rankings.

Again, unless you have particular skills in this area, the services of a web designer are recommended. The pulling power of individual pages can be fine tuned by running experiments on them to determine which layout, offer, creative and copy combination delivers the most actions for your business. You’ll know if it’s working or not by analysing the statistics from the website. This means looking at the numbers and the flow of visitors on your website. Are the majority of visitors coming to just one page and then leaving? Are many visitors starting a shopping cart but then abandoning it? The answers to these questions will help you and your web developer to make the necessary changes to your website in order to continue improving it and increasing the ROI.

Make it easy for visitors to contact you: Listing your email addresses and phone number on the website is fine but an online contact form provides an immediacy that removes the opportunity to forget or lose your contact details if shoppers have to put it off till later.

Mike Reddy is a Chartered Accountant, business coach and advisor helping businesses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast to easily increase their profits and cash flow. He is currently President of the North Sydney Chamber of Commerce, a Regional Councillor for Sydney North East and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sydney leadership team. As well as advising businesses, Mike presents business development seminars and webinars and is regularly contacted by the media to comment on small business matters. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.