What is it about some company websites that once built, they’re soon forgotten?
The clamour Creating, building, writing and deciding what your website will contain and how it will look takes time and effort. At first there is a great deal of activity. It’s an exciting new project. It needs to be planned, mapped, constructed and launched.
And, I’d suggest, it’s precisely this initial hustle and bustle of ‘project production’ that then kills a website dead.
Perhaps there’s a sigh of relief when it has been completed and is out there in the ether – thank goodness, end of that project. Or it may be that there is no one dedicated to updating it. Or the business thinks it has nothing further to add to it. Or that it is not integrated with other marketing activity.
Whatever the reason, often the reality is that once launched there’s a need to get on with other things! Oh dear, it should not be so.
Your website should be seen as an on-going commitment. Once started you need to keep it relevant and promote it.
1. Design it so topical and newsworthy items and articles can be regularly included. Adding new information to the site that is useful to visitors is a must. People want to view sites that are helpful, informative and have advice that is relevant to them, their industry or profession. Telling them about new laws, new industry challenges or changes, new appointments, new products and services and presenting your views, comments and articles are all great ways to drive people to your site and get them to come back to it. Design the site at the start so there is a ‘News’ section right on the Home page. Add a link for people to subscribe to your separate newsletter service. (You should have one).
2. Update the site frequently. Outdated information is a no-no. Those details you uploaded dating back in 2001. That so called latest news item dated 2009 – nothing added since! Those same ‘old’ images and text. Refreshing the site – without having to re-build the structure – means giving the design and contents some careful consideration at the start. How can it be quickly updated? Who will do it? Can it be done in-house? What information, content and images do you need to do it? These are all significant questions. Keeping your site fresh and alive is crucial.
3. Add more content to support better search engine activity. Of course it depends on what you use your site for and what you want from it – but written content is important. Having little or no content (or just pictures) is not a good idea. Content – the words – help with search engine optimisation. Plus the words you use are also central to people finding you and what you do. Some ‘word’ analytical analysis – discovering the words people use to search on – and then including them at fundamental points in your content is imperative. Change the words on your site to include these words. Have a ’10 second pitch’ on the Home Page that includes them. Remember your website is an ‘advertisement’, it’s a form of promotion so use the words and phrases that your customers use. A little research will go a long way
4. Tell your existing and potential customers about your site. Of course you list your web domain and/or Quick Response (QR) codes on your stationary and marketing materials. You make the site domain as visible as possible on business cards, letterheads, signage etc. But what pro-active steps do you take to drive people to your site? When did you last write to them, email them, send them an e-newsletter or actively communicate with them and ask them to respond via your website. Regular communications pointing people to your site is key to having an integrated marketing approach. It’s not enough to let the site exist without promoting it.
5. ‘We don’t have a lot to say’. One common mistake having built a site is that businesses feel that they don’t have anything else to say. How and what can they generate to add to the site? Surely, they think, we have incorporated everything we have or need on the site? Of course this is not the case. Producing the subject matter for articles, news items and writing more content should not be seen as a hurdle. Stories, technical papers, announcements, new business wins, production efficiencies all and more are sources of articles to add to the site. Ensuring that there is time and a means in place to deal with sources of information and crucially, that people in the business are alert to the fact that the website is an opportunity to reveal, talk about and promote these aspects is vital. Bet you have more things to talk about then you think!
6. Have someone working regularly on it. Who takes responsibility for your site? Do you look at it often? If you were a new customer visiting the site for the first time how would you react? Again important questions. Unlike many printed communications your website is dynamic. It’s live. It needs regular support and time and someone to ensure it remains vibrant and active. It’s easy to be apathetic and bored with it, to run hot and cold about it. But, in reality, someone needs to be managing it every day, particularly if you have links to social media or networking sites. Putting time aside is compulsory.
7. Show and tell. One of the biggest dilemmas, yet recognised as one of the best opportunities when producing print promotions like leaflets or advertising, is trying to find the means to show a ‘demonstration’ of a service or product. Instantly a website overcomes this problem. Video provides a fantastic possibility to show and tell. For example, perhaps using time lapse sequences, you can easily display and exhibit how something is built, assembled or used. You can instruct, explain and show how something is operated. Importantly you can involve and engage with your customers and prospects in an eye catching and visually exciting way.
This viewpoint isn’t an all encompassing technical review about website optimisation, website building, nor a digest on how to create a website that meets your needs or how to coerce people to visit your site. There is a lot of ‘techi’ help around.
It is however a reminder that by using a few points like these (and there are many others) you can help steer and guide customers to your site. I’d suggest it’s best to keep in mind that your website is, in simple terms, an ‘advertisement’ and as such it needs to attract, interest and inform people who may then take some positive action – providing there is the means to do so. Did I mention ‘calls to action’?……
© Tony Dexter, April 2012,