Top Seven Strategies for Website Success
Whether you're concerned with business-to-business, or business to
consumer, whether your organization is large or small, commercial
or nonprofit, these are some fundamental questions around your
Website and technology strategy that should be addressed.
Otherwise, you risk missing opportunities, and not maximizing the
return on your investment in your online presence.
If you haven't visited your own Website for a while, look at it
again in light of these questions:
1. Does your Website present an appropriate image of your company?
Marketers talk a lot about branding, and consistency of message.
Does your company site reflect how you'd like your customers to
feel about your business? Is it sophisticated, and professional
looking? Does it speak directly to visitors in language that
they'll understand, and in ways that relate to their issues and
Image is also about public relations. Publicity is a powerful
marketing tool, and reporters are increasingly looking for stories
and information online. Does your Website offer a media center?
Does it offer comment on current events in your industry? Do you
face up to the bad news, and spin it to your advantage? Whatever
you may think of Microsoft, check out their extensive Press Pass
2. Does your Website suggest potential for new or currently
untapped markets? In almost all the sites that I've consulted for,
we've identified markets or audiences beyond the
"real-world" customer base of the business.
This may be because the site extends the geographic reach of your
marketing. If you have good content on your site, it may also be
because visitors looking for your subject area find you in search
engines, and come to read your articles and white papers.
Either way, if you find many "non-traditional" visitors
to your site, you should assess whether they constitute a possible
new market area for your business.
3. Does your Website suggest potential for new products or
services? A clear understanding of your visitor needs may also
encourage you to consider new products or services. On the Web,
bundling expertise into downloadable, for-sale content provides
valuable new revenue streams for many businesses and non-profits.
You can find great clues for development ideas by tracking the
keywords entered into your own site search engine. These show what
visitors expect to find on your site - and therefore what they
expect your company to offer.
4. Does your Website provide continuing added value for existing
customers? Most site owners focus on acquiring new customers, and
fail to maximize the opportunities to support and service existing
These include password-protected areas where your clients can
follow the progress of their projects, share documents with you,
etc. Personalization and pre-populated forms (i.e. which are
automatically filled in with the customer's details) help to
create a feeling of value, and save time for your visitors.
Check the average response time for a contact from your Website.
One of the top complaints about major company sites is that e-
mails are not answered in a timely (hopefully 24 hours or less)
5. Does your Website support your internal operations and employee
This question relates to whether you're making the best use of all
available technologies, and integrating them with your online
Example applications to consider include:
messaging, fast becoming a serious business tool
bases - continually updated databases that can provide
automated customer support on a 24/7 basis
media, perhaps for just-in-time training or on-the- spot
manuals for your operatives
and extranets, which are really just fancy names for
password-protected employee and client areas
your Website integrate fully with your "real-world"
activities and processes? One of the most frustrating visitor
experiences is to complete a form, an application, or to submit a
search on your Website, only to receive an error message.
Customers want the security of an e-mailed purchase confirmation.
They want to know that they'll be taken off your mailing list
quickly and without the need for multiple requests.
With the complexity of technology and programs today, sometimes a
change to a seemingly unrelated system can wreak havoc. Do you
regularly check all the input forms and processes on your site to
ensure that no unexpected gremlins have crept in?
7. Does your Website provide you with a justifiable return on
investment? This is probably the most important question of the
seven, and possibly also the most difficult.
That's because the answer depends on a clear understanding of the
goals of your site, both in direct financial terms, and in other
less tangible benefits, such as name recognition.
The keys to evaluating ROI, to improving your site, and often to
further business development ideas can be found in your traffic
reports. These show what visitors are looking for, how long they
spend on the site, where they go, where they leave, and what rate
of response you get to the various calls to action.
These reports can be daunting - a mass of figures, graphs and
URL's. But I'd strongly suggest that someone in your organization
should understand them. Otherwise, you're shooting in the dark
with your Web investment.
(c) Copyright Philippa Gamse, 2003. All rights reserved.
About the Author:
Gamse, CyberSpeaker, is a Web strategy consultant and
professional speaker. Check out her free tipsheet for 23
ideas to promote your Website: http://www.CyberSpeaker.com/tipsheet.html
Philippa can be reached at (831) 465-0317.