key_2_successIf you have found yourself wondering why you or your company should invest in a website presence when you already have a more traditional marketing strategy in place, then perhaps you have not considered all the motivating factors that others have already found useful. Surveys conducted¹ have ascertained that people logging onto the Internet do so primarily for information, communication and research. Entertainment is the last check-box to be ticked.

If you can create a website that fulfils these criteria, then you are on your way to creating a marketing tool that will potentially service your business and customers much more efficiently, and cost-effectively, than any conventional marketing campaign ever could.

The Web has many features which set it apart from traditional forms of media. These include interactivity, multimedia and synchronicity – to name but a few. Consider also that over 1.3 billion people use the internet worldwide.

Fortunately, the time and expense once associated in developing a website have been tempered by the arrival of Content Management Systems (CMS). CMS solutions and services make it quick and relatively painless to build and maintain a website.

Some Very Good Reasons to Have a Website:

Accessibility:
Your business will no longer be restricted to your office hours and will be available to the world 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Differing time zones will no longer present an obstacle. Your site can educate, inform and generate new customers while you sleep!

Establishing a Presence:
1.3 Billion people worldwide have access to the Internet. Chances are that your competitors have already realised this and have established themselves on the World Wide Web in an attempt to garner the attention of these masses. Can you afford to ignore potential customers?

Affordability:
The information on your site can save you time and money by, for example, resulting in a reduction in printed promotional literature. Websites are also affordable and cost effective in terms of longevity.

Improved Customer Service:
By providing answers to frequently asked questions on your website, information requests can be processed automatically and immediately, freeing up your staff to focus in their assigned tasks. Online forms can be utilised to allow customers to request information or ask for further information.

Reach Specialised Markets:
As the Web has several very good search engines, interest groups will be able to find you even if your service is a specialised one.

Make Picture, Sound and Film Files Available:
Your website can provide an opportunity to significantly improve the essence of your marketing material by the inclusion of sound and film files. No brochure can do that. Your site will also be easier, cheaper and faster to update than any printed material.

Present a Professional Image:
For a small business, a well-designed website is a terrific way of instilling confidence and looking bigger than you actually are. If your primary competitor is bigger than you, creating a website that outshines theirs could be a good way of keeping up with them.

To Network:
Doing business today is nothing more than creating connections with other people. Consider your website as an extension of your business card, with the ability to reach a far wider group of people at considerably less cost.

Provide Instant Gratification:
In this busy day and age, people don’t like to wait for information or services. Allow visitors to your site to post questions, or find information that will assist them instantaneously.

Make your Business Information Available:
Any Yellow Pages ad has the same basic information. This usually includes your business hours, what services you offer, contact details, your location etc. On the web, this information becomes readily available worldwide, at no extra cost. Studies over the last few years reveal that the internet has already surpassed newspapers and yellow pages for information and research regarding companies, products, and services.

If you build it, will they come?
Yes. Like most things in life, however, it will require some initial effort on your part. Problems arise when websites are designed without a clear goal in mind.

Establish a plan for your website by considering what it is you want your website to do:

  • To inform?

  • To reach a broad audience with a message?

  • To find leads?

  • To provide support and customer service?

  • To conduct e-commerce?

  • To reduce printing and mailing costs?

  • To brand your company?

These are just a few suggestions. It is important to think of the web as not just a marketing tool, but as a business tool as well.

It is also vital to identify your target audience. Consider what information they would like to see, or what services they require. In other words, why are they visiting your site?

There are a lot of factors that affect the performance and results of a website:

  • The general appearance and image of your website

  • Load time – does it take ages for your page or content to become visible?

  • Is your website easy to navigate?

  • Cross browser / platform compatibility – does every visitor have the same experience no matter which browser they are using?

Perhaps you already have a website, but find that it is not providing the results that you would wish for? Then perhaps it is time to re-look at why you created the website in the first place.

There can be no denying the fact that having a successful and professional website presence is vital to any business owner. Having a website will give your business credibility. It’s all about keeping up with technology and making it a part of the success of your business.

¹Source: DIANE F. WITMER AND CHUTATIP TAWEESUK: Department of Communications, California State University, Fullerton, USA

Contributed by:
Candice Turnbull

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