TECH WISE : Websites that Sell (Part two)


TO: Steve, Murray
FROM: Bob
SUBJECT: Congratulations
Hi Steve and Murray
I just wanted to say you guys have done great job on the new website. It’s looking fantastic.
Bob
———————————
TO: Steve, Bob
FROM: Murray
SUBJECT: Re: Congratulations
Hi Bob
Thanks for your comments, it’s taken
a lot of work.
Murray
———————————
TO: Bob
CC: Murray
FROM: Steve
SUBJECT: Re: Congratulations
Hi Bob
Thanks – we’re pretty happy with it too. Now we just have to start promoting the site and driving up the traffic!
Cheers
Steve



Build it and they will come seems to be the approach of many companies when they launch their new site. Once the site is launched, everybody breathes big sigh of relief and mentally signs off the project. But launching is just the beginning – or at least it should be if you’re going to get payback on the investment you’ve made.
Last month we looked at what you need to do to make your site easy for customers to buy from. But you’ve got to have customers to sell to, so this month we’ll look at how to get customers to your site in the first place.
In order to measure the effectiveness of your site marketing, you’ll need to measure the effects it has on traffic to your site. Site analytics is the term used for measuring site traffic. If you haven’t identified what site analytics tools you’ll be using, take the time to do this before you start your marketing. Free tools such as Google Analytics (analyt
ics.google.com) give good picture of who’s visiting your site and what they are doing.
An often forgotten source of potential site visitors is your existing customer base. Most companies ensure that their website address is on all their business cards, printed marketing collateral, email footers and on any advertising. But how many companies take the time to let their customers, partners and suppliers know when they launch new website, or add new features to their existing site?
A communications plan should be mandatory part of every site launch. It should detail who should be told about the new site, what’s in it for them and how you are going to deliver the message.
So what about attracting new customers who haven’t dealt with you before?
The key is to ensure that they can find you easily – which means making sure your site is indexed by the major search engines (particularly Google) and your site’s pages are well tuned for the keywords that are most relevant to your business. This is known as Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO), and should ideally be done as part of the site build rather than as an afterthought after launch.
There are many companies specialising in providing SEO services. If you are non-technical then using one of these specialists is highly recommended. But there are some basics that you can do yourself – starting with making sure you know what keywords potential customers will be using, and ensuring that those keywords are present in your site’s pages – particularly in headlines and page titles.
Sites such as searchengineland.com and searchenginewatch.com are full of useful tips and tricks for improving the way your site is “spidered” by search engines and improving your rankings.
Another key tip is to increase the number of other sites linking to your site. So think about getting partners and suppliers to link to you – and link to them in return.
Also handy for this are directories that allow you to add listing for your site. One recommended site is DMOZ (dmoz.org) – large “open-source” directory of websites which is used by number of the search engines (including Google and Yahoo) as source of new sites for them to index. Listing on DMOZ is free. Locally, sites such as SearchNZ.co.nz will also allow you to create free listing.
And lastly tell the search engines about your site. Most will allow you to submit your site’s URL – but be aware it can take quite while for your site to be added.
Which brings us to advertising. You can use traditional media such as radio, print or TV to advertise what your site offers and how to find it. But online advertising is probably the most effective way of driving traffic to your site because it’s immediate, and it can be remarkably cost-effective too.
Online display ads can be very effective at driving traffic – but they must have strong “offer” that gives viewers of the ad reason to want to click on the ad. Discounts, competitions and special offers can all work well to encourage visitors to your site.
Search advertising can also be extremely effective at generating traffic. Search ads are the paid links that show in the search results on sites such as Google and Yahoo. It works by allowing you to “buy” keywords. Whenever someone uses those keywords in search, your ad will show.
Search advertising is often referred to as “pay-per-click” – as you pay only when someone clicks on your ad. Experimenting with Google’s Adwords is good way to start learning about search advertising – you can create an account cheaply and Google provides easy-to-follow instructions.
The key to driving traffic is that it’s always an ongoing process. The rule for success is continual measurement and experimentation. The results can be spectacular if you get it right.

Mark Evans runs Techtelligence, and is director of Sway.Tech, marketing, communications and strategy consultancy for hi-tech companies. [email protected]

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