Website marketing

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I recently had a big argument with a company in transition. They were known for one thing, with 75% of revenue tied to that thing. Problem was, their future was tied to the other 25%.  I was told “Get the old thing off the home page. Fill it with the new thing.” That was the easy part.  The hard part was I was instructed to “Create different doors for different kinds of customers.”  I argued “For a company in transition, without a lot of awareness and mindshare, the home page needs to deliver the brand strategy.”  Home pages that don’t convey brand strategy are often montages of pictures, products and navigation. They lack a POV. A heart.  Home pages are the one place in the online world where marketers have complete control of their brands. They can control the story, the claim and the proof.  The 3 door approach would have evicerated the strategy.

Why do so many company make brochures out of the home page real estate? Brochure tables of contents, really.  Homepages are more and more important in marketing today and they are the least attended to.

For new or unknown companies the home page must communicate the Is-Does. For mature brands, it must move customers emotionally and rationally closer to a sale. Not closer to another page. Templates suck at this. Plants and trees that stay the same are either plastic, hibernating or dead. Your home page should be none of these. Peace.

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According to the Radicati Group market research firm, in 2010, 107 trillion e-mails were sent. Today there are 3.1 billion active email accounts and corporate employees send and receive 105 million e-mails a day. When we don’t have anything to do, rather than smelling roses, we check our cellies. They have become indispensable.  Or have they?

One of the goals I have for my company is to make its website an indispensable source of content for the K12 education community. Indispensable is a very high goal.  The thought is, if teachers and school administrators could visit only one website each day to get some good .edu nuggets, whose would it be? Not a nice place to visit. Or a valuable and meaningful website.  An indispensable site. That’s a strategy. 

Many view their sites as places to share product and service information.  Good idea. Others see them as a way to cut down customer inquiry. Others yet view their sites as places to sell.  Or places to get prospects ready to buy.  All good goals.  For me “indispensable” is where it’s at.  It is a constant strategic motivator.  Try it. Peace.

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 Yesterday’s post was about brand managers ceding control of brand marketing. Today, I’d like to suggest that brand managers need to take back control of their websites. A website done well is a website that creates customer action. And when I say action I don’t mean things like time on site, or likes or pages viewed – I’m talking about moving the ball ahead in the sales cycle. 

Many commercial websites provide lots of product detail, layers of information and customer testimonials. Colorful pictures and product videos are also common. In many of these cases, the web is simply providing access to digital information – not unlike a brochure.  Rather, the web should be promoting action. The sales cycle starts with Awareness, moves toward Interest, then Preference, Purchase and continues on to Loyalty.  Most web metrics today measure Interest (visits). If an e-comm site, they measure Purchase. The Loyalty metric is gauged by repeated visits. 

No wonder many companies think they don’t need websites and focus their selling efforts on Facebook.  There’s plenty of action on Facebook.    

Websites are not brochures. They are not video repositories. Commercial websites should be living, breathing selling tools. Reflections of the product value in an ever changing, colorful, bi-directional medium. A smart marketer once said “Good advertising gets you to feel something then do something.”  The same applies to a good website. Peace!

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