When does a web site just sit on the shelf hoping someone will come along and pick it up, and when does a web site beg to be noticed and better yet, interacted with?
I was asked by a family member to "make a website" for their business. So, I asked a few questions.
"What do you want it to do?"
"Tell people about us", came the reply.
"What do you want them to do once they read about you?" I tried not to sound cynical here.
"Nothing", is the reply.
Turns out the business owner is already satisfied with business and has enough to keep everyone employed, prosperous and content. So why would they want a web site? I asked if they had in mind an online brochure and yes, that's it! A one or two page web brochure and that's enough. Just a little something for them to point present clients to, in case a business card isn't handy. Just a little something to show "We're with it and cool".
It's not every day I come across a business need that shies away from generating conversions, making money or being found in search engines. But, it happens.
I'm working on another web site situation that is a business offering a service. I looked for all the ways they made it possible to bring in revenue because I want them to succeed in their online goals. There are two. Phone and email contact.
Two ways to get sales, increase traffic, create a brand, establish contact, be remembered, and bring all the happy people back for another ride if they manage to remember who you were.
How To Incite a Tiny Riot
So, here is a list for you to ponder, in case you want to jump into someone's lap when they come by your site in search engines.
1. Provide a form for feedback. Some people are shy and will not call or email you, or if they email you, they like to use forms rather than their default email client. (And make the option of just giving them a contact email address available.)
2. Offer coupons and limited time access to something for free. It doesn't need to be a"big thing". Be playful.
3. Start a blog and offer an RSS feed. Even if you never expect to make another sale, your existing clients may love you and actually want to know what you're up to. They're especially keen on knowing when you'll run the "Going out of business" sale.
4. Forums - Oh come on. Trust me when I say working 24/7 to keep your brand going strong is well worth every "When will you have time for me!" argument with your spouse or significant other.
5. Ads. We hate them. You need them. It's kinda like having to eat Brussel Sprouts. Just hold your nose and do the deed.
6. Provide either an online catalog, such as a PDF version, or point the way to how to get the print version. And don't be chicken here. Staples calls me up on the phone begging to send me one, even though I told them I love going to the actual store because it's next to Quiznos subs.
7. Add a Wish List. I love these things. I wish I had a classic Beetle. I wish I had the new Victoria's Secret push up bra. If there' s a way to sign up and let your visitors dream, you have a nifty way to follow up and send coupons, notices for sales, offers to send the Beetle to your best friend...
8. Product discounts. We all know you will raise fees just to mark them down again and pretend to give us a deal, but we're gullible.
9. If you hate blogging, try providing a newsletter. While they can be overdone and boring, if YOU are not overdone or boring, or your services and products are not, then a newsletter is key to keeping visitors glued to you. Be spunky. My family business web site project could do this even though they insist they don't need anymore clients. They do, however, travel and apply their expertise wherever they go on the work projects that take them everywhere. Their stories are an education. If you're rich and satisfied, teaching can be rewarding and still keep your brand out there.
10. Memberships. There's different ways to do this one. Repeat customers love the Gold Member club and those discounts you will provide for their loyalty. Affiliates will join if you clearly have a product that rocks. Businesses who need bulk orders want the special bulk access and prices. Purchase Agents love to have their own sales representative that they do business with. No strange voice over the phone will do. They despise breaking in the new person. Registration allows product tracking, and also ways to communicate how customer service oriented you are.
For example, I ordered a new Dell power cord for my laptop the other day, and just now, the package passed a McDonald's in Indiana and has 237 more miles to go before it reaches my mailbox.
The moral of this story is don't just let your web site sit on the Web taking up space. It can surprise you with many rewards, if you just unbind the noose around its neck.
Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
Kimberly Krause Berg is the owner of Cre8pc.com, Cre8asiteForums.com and co-founder of Cre8asite Webmaster Resources Directory.
Kim's career began in 1996 as the Webmaster for an Internet magazine publishing company. Later, while working for "dotcoms", she built websites, incorporated search engine optimization and performed Internet software application usability/user interface testing. For years she freelanced on the side by performing search engine optimization services via Cre8pc.com. Now a self-employed usability/SEO consultant, this mother of 2 is an advocate for home and small businesses. She specializes in what she calls the "marriage between search engine optimization and usability" and to that end offers Cre8pc and Cre8asiteForums as teaching sites.
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