A few years ago the concept of running a website in conjunction with your "brick and mortar" store was seen as just another avenue to generate a handful more sales each year. Today, websites generate a significant portion of sales for many businesses, and there are plenty of web-only businesses that don't make their money any other way.
Every day, millions of people go to the web for research, shopping, news, entertainment and more. Offline stores are heavily promoting their websites to their consumers in the isles and at the checkout stand as a means of building brand loyalty as well as shopping convenience. Marketing your website online can literally add thousands, hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars into your business bank account.
As consumers go to the web daily for any number of reasons, planning the online marketing strategy of your website can help you tap into each of those avenues as a way to generate new traffic, more conversions, and a loyal customer base. Ignoring the potential of the web will only serve to give your competitors a substantial advantage in reaching your target market. Not investing appropriate time, money, or resources into the online marketing of your website is akin to handing your customers over directly to your competitors.
Back when the web was in its infancy Jeff Bezos jumped into the online game with a bookstore of his own. He got his store online before Barnes and Noble and Borders and now runs one of the most successful marketplaces online: Amazon.com
Even today, as all national booksellers are selling their products online, they have not been able to overcome the online success of this one guy who started a bookstore in his basement.
Get the investment mindset
Making the decision to pour hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars into website marketing may seem pretty daunting, if not downright risky. After all, there are no guarantees of success.
Before you invest online, you need to make sure you have the correct mindset to move forward. Your business website should not be considered an IT expense, computer expense, or web expense. While it may be all of those, above all it is a marketing expense. Everything from web hosting to purchasing ads should all be part of the big marketing picture. Once you have the proper mindset, you can then plan and move forward with the best strategies in mind, not cutting corners for a quick buck, but for a long-term investment that will pay dividends in multiples.
Doing it right means not doing it yourself
We've all heard it said that if you want something done right you need to do it yourself. While this is true in many situations, it generally only works if you're the one who does, in fact, know how to do it right. There are many things in life I won't attempt (or have tried and failed) because I simply don't have the knowledge or skills to do it the way it should be done. And I don't mind admitting defeat on some areas because that allows me to focus my time and energy on areas that I am skilled at.
Many business owners will be well served by this standard to their websites and online marketing campaigns. Too many websites look as if they were built, managed and marketing by someone who knows more about [insert your industry here] than they do about search engines.
I certainly understand the desire for the small business owner for wanting to keep things on the cheap. And money can be saved, no doubt. But what is the cost of time or the value of the long-term loss in revenue from not doing it right from the beginning? Saving money today is great, but that has to be weighted against money lost tomorrow.
Look to the goal and plan the best route to get there
It's hard to give up control of something to other people. Especially to people you don't necessarily know. One coach can't play the positions on the court or field. Those positions must be delegated, each to the best player suited for that. Small business owners that try to play the entire field often find themselves in a losing game.
There is a reason that the cliche "you get what you pay for" is so often repeated. Because more times than not, it turns out to be true. So the next time you think you're going to save money by getting it for "free", weigh the long-term cost versus benefits. Are you certain that the job will be done right? Do you have the knowledge to ensure success? Are you really going to be saving any money, or will you end up losing more than you're saving?
There are dozens of questions to ask yourself when considering who to hire for your online marketing efforts. But asking questions will help you find answers that will help you make the right decision for your situation. Marketing your site correctly isn't just another job to do, it's an investment int your future.
Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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