Today we hear many approaches and ideas from Web Weavers, Gurus and Architects on how to make the web build market share for a business. As a Marketer and Non Techie, I'd like to share with you the non-technical perspective on Web Marketing learned through direct experience overseeing many web-oriented projects. One of the challenges with the Internet of course is rapid obsolescence so here is our first tip;
1. Don't believe any of these tips
Or at least take them with a grain of salt. The web is accelerating at such a rapid pace, cutting edge stuff from a year ago is fast becoming redundant. It is very difficult to create a proper strategy around web activity when processes become obsolete so quickly. Remember the old saying 'Pioneers take the arrows' and in the world wide web, the goal posts seem to change every few weeks.
2. Capture E-mails
A significant percentage of web sites do not have a mechanism for return contact or invitations to join e-mail subscriptions. Think of a website as an invitation to start a relationship. E-mail addresses give one the opportunity to build relationships.
3.Optimize Search Engines
Studies have shown (?) up to 84% of respondents found out about specific Websites through Search Engines.
3. Turbo Charge Search Engines
The proliferation of websites has made for volunteer optimization of search engines to be more difficult. Consider pay for placement sites such as Overture, they work!
4. Cut to the Chase
Within many websites one must wade through rhetoric and poorly written copy to get to the useful information. Loads of data must be sifted though to get to the useful information. Do your viewers a favor and eliminate the crap out of your website. A website is not meant to be an ego trip.
5. Lose the gimmicks
I remember a well-intentioned web weaver who wanted to insist on using morphing images and animation to 'wow' new users to this particular site. I asked for stats on those who had the software to support the viewing. Upon considerable reflection the designer went back to second-generation technology. This leads us to our next tip
6. Think Money not Pretty
Tom Antion runs an e-commerce workshop in the U.S. called 'Butt Camp'. His mantra, think money not pretty. Don't overwhelm users with design tricks and wild color schemes. Consumers are too sophisticated and are inundated with beautifully crafted, well designed junk. For most consumers at some level this is offensive.
7. Design for the Low Common Denominator
Survey your target, find the foundation technology they support then design for their hardware capacities.
8. Create frames at the Top of Splash Pages
A significant percentage of users will view your splash page like a print Ad. I've been told that up to 80% of new users do not scroll down off the Splash Page. Load all of your key information into what would fit into a 15-inch monitor. This would include your links and e-mail connections.
9. Site Maps Rule
Make sure a site map is prevalent. They help in search engine optimization and they allow busy people to get to where they want to go in a click or two.
10. Push verses Pull Content
The odds of building a relationship through the web increase if one can educate by e-mail. This puts some control into your marketing. A Website without linkage is largely passive as in 'here's hopin' When you push content through opt in and viral programs, you are not so reliant on making rapid copy changes to your site and can build stronger relationships with your market.
11. Split Run Test Banners
When using banners methodically test concepts to see which pulls best. Trial and error works wonders. Remember banners are proliferating like bunnies so keep expectations low in terms of this kind of promotion
12. Beware of Reciprocal Links
A website needs perhaps up to 100 reciprocal links to make an impact on traffic. When considering a link complete the following steps;
research the website
click on a link the candidate site has then proceed to click on all the links of each of those sites
repeat the process until you have reviewed all links three degrees of separation.
If the prospective link is clean ie: no porn or Neo Nazi Groups, then run a reciprocal link. Beware of collaborations which take you out of markets due to competitive environs.
13. Beware of Link Rot
Don't let users click to dead ends.
14. Orphans Need Parents
Make sure each page has your companies ID and an e-mail link.
15. Think Fast not Pretty
Slow and cumbersome websites are .well, slow and cumbersome. Consider using more expandable thumbnails verses full blown graphics as a way to move things along for your users.
16. Ask for Optimization Strategies
If your web weaver doesn't have an integrated strategy to drive sales leads to you from your web program, run.
17. Expectations need to be in Check
A general rule of thumb, if it costs $10000 to build a website then budget $10000 a year to maintain and market the program. In other words, a Porsche in your driveway is pretty useless if you can't afford to insure, maintain and fuel it up on occasion.
18. Return your Phone Calls
The old rule in Marketing, only Market as much as you can Sell, Sell only as much as you can Produce. If you get swamped with marginal prospects, tighten the nature of the content and develop a tighter niche.
19. Consider Viral Strategies
In the book the Tipping Point, the Author speaks to the resurgence of Vans, those funky shoes, which almost went extinct. Some influential types (cool people) in the Soho District of New York picked some up in used clothing stores and then their friends started noticing how these Vans were really cool. Over time the NY hipsters took some plane trips in their Vans and inadvertently started Van Mania in other cities and away went the marketing virus. The producers of the shoes must have shook their heads in disbelief . My point, the web is perfect for high quality products with cache, see case studies on Palm Pilot and Hotmail.
20. Study E-Commerce Opportunities 'Very' Carefully
As a CEO you may be aware that shopping carts are very cheap, merchant accounts are accessible now and traffic building strategies are attainable. If you are considering E-Commerce Solutions look at the opportunity from a 360 degree analysis. In other words have different advisors with different mindsets look at e- commerce with a critical objective eye. You will get all kinds of seemingly dumb questions from perhaps your Accountant or Operations Manager which will generate extremely valuable conversations. If the E-Commerce process is not completely buttoned down it can become a black hole. Doubling the projected budget and time lines is not enough. E-commerce while in some cases a superb way to do business, can in other cases be a disaster. Consider partial e-commerce strategies and back up systems if your technology or technologist goes a bit goofy.
Gregg Meiklejohn runs Zen Master Marketing Systems (www.zenmarketing.ca) , a marketing consulting firm. He can be reached at 250-389-0855 Pacific Time.