The key to success with any venture is effective research and planning. Launching a successful website is no different. You must develop a sound game plan and set measurable benchmarks in order to achieve your internet marketing goals. Listed below are a few tips to help you effectively plan and get the most out of your web presence.
- Define a Goal for your Web Presence.
Ask yourself what you are trying to achieve with the site in terms of benefits to your business. A website doesn’t have to be a revenue generator to benefit a business, but you should identify up front if your site is going to remain an expense or if you plan on eventual revenues being generated from the site.
- Identify a Target Audience.
You would be amazed at how many businesses establish a Web presence as a result of the hype without first investigating who they are trying to reach and how many of these potential customers are actually using the Web. If you can afford it, you should hire a market research firm to supply you with demographics of your intended audience.
- Surf the Competition.
The beauty of the Web is information sharing. It is very easy to take a peek at what your competition is doing on the Web. If you can’t find websites for any of your competition you should raise a red flag and find out why. It could be that you’re a forerunner in your industry or that you might be making the same mistake someone else has already made in your industry.
- Don’t Overuse Graphics & Animations.
Too many businesses have gone haywire making their sites look pretty with numerous or large graphics and animations. They’ve lost sight of the functionality and purpose of their Web presence and have gotten caught up in “gee-whiz” features which take a long time to load. Users are very fickle and will not wait too long to view your information. Don’t fall into this trap.
- Develop a Maintenance Plan.
A website is not a static entity. Users want to see regular changes and updates to the information provided in the site. It is recommended to plan at least six months to one year in advance the areas of the site that will require maintenance, who will perform the maintenance, and the processes that will be followed to implement the changes.
- Plan on Monitoring Your Objectives.
The time to figure out how you are going to measure the success of your website is before you even develop it. Be sure that you have a metrics plan in place to monitor the traffic in your site and learn how to interpret the data. You must be prepared to adapt your objectives after launching based on user habits and preferences.
- Create a Marketing Plan.
Registering your site with the most popular search engines is no longer enough advertising. You’ll most likely need to promote your site using banner ads or sponsoring other sites, as well as posting your URL in newsgroups and bulletin boards. Don’t overlook using traditional print and broadcast mediums to get your Web address out to your targeted audience.
- Update your Business Materials.
You should plan on updating your existing business materials to include your website address. Nowadays, people expect to find a URL on business cards, brochures, commercials, print ads, and catalogs.
- Use Professional Web Developers.
Many amateurs claim to be HTML programmers and Web developers these days. As in any industry you need to have the proper tools and the know-how to do the job right. Why take a chance with your business and trust the job to people building websites as a hobby instead of hiring a professional?
Source: Adapted from American City/NETWORK Small Business Internet Survey