In order to get the most out of your promotional dollar, it helps to be prepared when seeking out creative work for your business. When it comes to the Internet, most people have only a vague conception of where to begin. Here are a few tips for creating a successful web presence:
Know your user:
OK, so you have a website, but do you know who's using it and what for? Very often, new site owners have no idea how to engage their audience because they simply don't know where they've come from or what they're looking for. In order to improve the user experience, you first have to identify your audience—find out how they're reaching you, and what content interests them. Traffic stats will provide much of this, but it's helpful to ask for user feedback through contact forms, surveys, etc.
Make it user-friendly:
The easier it is to use a website, the more likely you are to get repeat traffic from visitors. For example, a website that requires long download times is not going to be accessible to a user on a public WiFi connection; nor is a Flash menu going to be visible to a user on a mobile device. Keep your content visible to your most frequent visitors, and your target audience will be happy (and keep coming back!).
Search engines are only one piece to the puzzle:
Although search engine visibility is important, it should not be considered the "end all", but rather part of your total marketing plan. By planning online visibility along with your traditional marketing efforts, you can identify required tactical efforts and that will help you to achieve your business goals.
Examples of tactical marketing efforts are search engine or social media advertising, email campaigns, banner ads, listings in local and industrial directories, association memberships, direct mail, newspaper or magazine ads and television commercials. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when planning:
Focus on the customer:
In order to design a plan to capture your customer's attention, you must begin by placing yourself in their shoes to capture their "purchase thought flow". If you cannot detach yourself enough to provide an unbiased perspective, ask neutral participants how they would look for your product. Or, try sending out surveys that reward your participants with small thank you gifts for their feedback. Also consider sleuthing your competitors by posing as a customer yourself and posting questions to Facebook or Twitter such as, "where can I find a product that does...?" Using these methods, you may find new approaches to your target or even competitors you have never heard of.
Learn from your competitors:
How do your competitors attract their customers? How do they advertise? What type of messages do they use? If possible, buy your competitors product and try to return it. How would you rate your experience? Can you improve upon their selling approach in any way? Also, consider price promotions to gain the opportunity to present your unique qualities to new customers (and impress them so they will return at your regular prices).
Know the source:
Above all, track your leads to wherever you drive them. Whether it is through a web search, online ad, link, etc., there are tools to help you track where your online leads come from—including phone calls. Also, ask your customers how they heard about you, so you can determine which pieces from your marketing program are working. If they choose your competitor, ask why so you can adjust your plan. Flexibility is key to your marketing success.