– How to build your site with focus on marketing your product / solutions
– May 28, 2009 by T. P. Gopinath
Document explores all the possible ways of gaining and maintaining potential customers as well as technical professionals to a website to aid marketing efforts. Methods identified to have been useful are explored below.
This document is intended to be made permanent with occasional additions to it as new and original ways to enhance effectiveness of the web marketing effort is found. A website can be made a good marketing tool in the following ways.
A. By creating and maintaining a fundamentally well designed, content rich, easily navigable site.
B. By investing time and effort to popularise that site on the search engines, directories, forums, etc.
C. By getting referred and linked by high quality sites in order to improve the search engine ranking
D. By hosting a visitor friendly, professionally completed e-commerce platform to attract buyers.
E. By becoming a default destination for those who want to buy products in the particular area.
Towards the above mentioned five goals, the following topics explore what we can practically do during the site design and content building phase. Let us now examine various topics that can cover and complete the discussion on web marketing for a site.
A site filled with articles, forum, and blog is the first step to market a brand on the web.
Idea of building a website has three goals. Number one is to help our existing customers find our site in hours of need for them to find support material, contact information, product information etc. Second is to ensure that maximum pages are indexed by the search engines with high ranks so that we get accessed whenever a potential customer embarks on a search. Second goal in fact aids the first one by helping customers find our site. Both goals are equally important. The third and one most important goal is to sell through our site. But the first two goals well achieved, third will happen naturally.
Exploring the option:
1. a. Basic principles of design and development
Written words are most critical to a sites success. So adding quality content in good quantity is vital.
A professional, user friendly look and feel across the entire site.
Information about who we are, the organisation, founding, and the staff.
Quick loading pages, clearly identifiable text links that suits the theme.
Page layout and theme should be easily understood.
Making people aware where they are on the site
A menu driven, consistent, fast, SEO friendly navigation system.
A well made sitemap will help both the visitors and search engines
A clear and concise product description and details
Explaining the integrity of Credit card handling
An intuitive and easy to use shopping cart
Explaining the next steps after a purchase has been processed.
A returns / cancellation policy
1. b. Look and Feel.
It is important that the look and feel is consistent across the site. Its fonts, colours, graphics, navigation etc needs to be uniform across pages. A spotless design where the aesthetic of the site is taken good care of, will go a long way in promoting our brand. Look of a site create an important first impression. Visitors might perceive the company to be big, small, or untrustworthy on the basis of how the site looks.
1. c. Product information and knowledge presentation:
Site must give abundant easily accessible content on product info to all its visitors. This has to be fresh and different from that is already available on the web. Gathering of all useful info and helpful support documents on the site help us reduce the number of support calls and calls for contact information etc. In case of ecommerce, presentation of data from various angles including that of the past customers will help bring confidence to the would-be buyer.
Technology buyers crave content. Whether it’s in the form of news, product information, opinions, advice, comparisons, buyers of technology products are seeking authoritative content online.
1. d. Articles & Columns:
Writing variety of useful articles is one way to attract potential customers. Expecting more, visitors can be expected to return. Also, it helps give the site an authenticity making people think that ‘these people know what they are talking about’. Kind of articles that we can host falls under the purpose of product familiarity, tech configuration, installation, trouble shooting, quick guides etc.
1. e. Forum
Our technical Forum will present a venue for IT professionals, CEOs, tech beginners a place to connect, discuss, and understand various technical aspects of products and technologies that company deals with. This will eventually make a forum popular in the tech community as a place with authenticity. People will begin to depend on your forum for reliable knowledge and information. This in itself act as a web marketing tool for us.
1. f. Blog:
A Blog for your company is fundamentally a corporate blog which you have to try to make use of for the purpose of marketing in innovative ways. Blog can be kept more in a conversational style unlike Forum. An example is the official Google Blog (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/). In a blog, we can create categories and build plenty of interaction through comments. The content we post here will be essentially different from the main site. It can be in a sense thoughts from directors to present company’s thinking on matters of business, news etc.
1. g. RSS Feeds:
RSS is a way to present our content to other sites through feeds. Individuals or other sites can add / subscribe these feeds. RSS feeds will make us look state-of-the-art as well as give us some edge on the search rankings. RSS is very search engine friendly. With RSS feed, we can create content that updates itself.
1. Getting the engines to index the maximum number of pages. 2. Receiving good ranks among the results. Towards achieving this goal, we have to work in the following areas. Page title, focus on keywords, quality and quantity of content, user generated content, and getting high quality links are main subjects in this area.
Exploring the option:
2. a. Importance of written text:
Pictures don’t help the search engine spiders. Flash is not understood very well by it. Java script and other non-HTML are also scarce understood by spiders. Search engine spiders ignore most of the above. What they understand well is text which comes in the form of the written words. Hence the number one clue to search engine ranking and penetration is quality and quantity of written text.
2. b. Uniqueness of content / duplicate content
Internet is full of content. New content is not highly sought after by the web.
However, fresh, unique and well made content always can prop us to the top of the search ranks as such content is always sought by visitors on the web. Due to the same reason, engines have developed the capability for identifying such content. Hence, genuine, unique, fresh, content creation is key. We have to do our best to carry no piece of content that is stale, repeated or unqualified.
2. c. Page Title.
Page title is the top of the page HTML heading for each and every page. Many search engines index the page on the basis of what is written in the page title. Hence it is important to include the main keyword for the page in the page title. Like how a book is titled into chapters, sub topics, and page headings, page title tag should follow the hierarchy of the website; giving appropriate name to pages as they move down the hierarchy.
2. d. Description tag:
Apart from the page title, description HTML tag help identify the page and define it. Engines will pick up the first few text on the page and it is not essential to build description tag for each page. However, it is an alternative way of explaining the page details.
2. e. Focus on keywords.
“Keywords, key phrases and search terms are the important words and phrases that people type into the search box of major search engines.” The Keyword or phrase depends up on what a page is about. If you are preparing a page about the history of America, the keyword is “history of America”. Keyword or Key phrase captures the essence of the topic of a document or a search query.
Search engines give important value to what is written towards the top of the page and what is written in bold. So in these two areas, it is important that you insert your keyword or key phrase for the page. This has to taken care of right at the content development stage. There is no need to intentionally insert this word into the page. It is also forbidden to repeatedly use this phrase in the page without any relation to the context.
There is no need to use your keyword or phrase more than five to eight times in a hundred word text. However, it depends on the maximum length of the page.
2. f. Quality and Quantity of content.
Content is known to be king in the web realm. Your content has to grow on a daily basis. Only then you can find a decent place in the search engines for being a content rich site in the field of operation. You have to remember that there are so many sites in the subject area of our business. Only when we achieve quality and quantity of content, potential customers and decision makers shall visit you more often. A lack of focus in this area will mean doom for your corporate web presence.
Ways to create content:
A. Writing it :
Although a difficult and most difficult part of web presence building, there is no short cut to creating original content. No software program will help you reach this goal. Each of you, involved in your web team, those who are good in writing and those with subject matter knowledge, has to devote their time each day for enhancing your site by adding content. Such a whole hearted and all encompassing effort in original content development lies at the core of any web marketing effort.
B. User generated content.
The main reason people host forums, blogs etc is to receive good quality and variety content cheaply in forms of postings and comments. Forums and Blogs make an otherwise complicated process easy through quick and simple content building. People like to be part of a decent forum and see themselves posted on it.
C: Employing professional writers:
This part of the effort cost money but due to the importance of generating quality content, it is worth taking this step. One can write the topic and that piece can go through an editing process by a subject matter expert.
D: Press Releases.
Press releases create content. They have both value in terms of content and search engine rankings. Places that press releases are published is normally a high traffic area and get linked well.
E. Create White Papers
White papers are a favorite amongst many B2B prospects and buyers. According to studies, white papers are the most frequently read content with over 70% stating that they look for white papers as a trusted source of information.
F. Provide Case Studies and Product Literature
You have to understand that your audience require more than one piece of content (on average three) before they become interested in your content.
2. g. Getting high quality links:
Links are nice to have and search engines give very high weight to it. But no one wants to link to a badly done site. Again we go back to the ‘content is king philosophy’ where high quality content attract high quality sites to link to us. They link to us because we host reliable, fresh, professional content.
Links carry high value in search engines. In fact engines such as Google give links that a site has, more importance than any other parameter in deciding what search engine rank to give to it. Hence it must be made a big goal to receive the maximum number of links from the best and mighty sites. However, in terms of achieving links from other top quality sites are concerned, there is no shortcut but you have to host a first class site with first class content.
2. h. Web 2.0, SEO 2.0 era tools: (Part of the text in this sub topic is from page : SEO 2.0: The Next Generation of Search Engine Optimization)
Social bookmarking sites are a form of viral and guerilla SEO where communities of people can view the bookmarks of others as well as share their own. In order to make it easy to locate bookmarks they can be tagged with certain keywords pertaining to what the site is about. When someone does an Internet search using these keywords, the bookmarks you place can be easily found. The rate of traffic that a site receives increases pertaining to the number of times it has been bookmarked. It is also common for these sites to promote their most popular bookmarks on their home page.
Founded in 2003, del.icio.us (now called Delicious) pioneered tagging. Sites such as Digg, reddit, and Newsvine offer a similar system for organization of social news.
A social network service focuses on building online communities of people who share interests and/or activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. Most social network services are web based and provide a variety of ways for users to interact, such as e-mail and instant messaging services.
Social networking sites can provide the foundation for any good SEO 2.0 campaign. These sites usually require you to make a profile about yourself or your company. After this, you can sign up with groups as well as create your own. Two examples of social networking sites that are popular right now are MySpace and Facebook.
A large part of utilizing these sites to improve your traffic is making friends with other users. For best results you should read other peoples’ profiles and concentrate on ones that have things in common with you or your business. Leave a short comment with your link on their profiles in order to draw attention.
Finally, the advent of YouTube and other video sites has made it easy for anyone to post a video on the Web, adding whatever relevant keywords they can in order to improve the number of views. Search engines will then use these same keywords to help users find your videos while searching. When a new video has been given the proper tags it can really soar in the rankings for those keywords. It may be a temporary boost, but is an excellent way to make use of the best keywords.
By building a credible e-commerce platform so that people make your site a default destination for their needs of purchasing goods and services you offer.
Ecommerce has the distinct advantage of convenience for the customer. Simply by providing efficient e-commerce, a site can be made a destination of choice. Apart from being able to focus on it for the purpose of building a better net profit, it can also help make the site get popular simply due to the fact that it is a reliable source of ecommerce.
Exploring the option:
First step in the process of a successful sale through your site is making sure that the potential customers know about you, that they can find your site on the web.
Main method through which this feat is achieved will be a powerful presence on the search engines for the keywords customers are expected to use. Second point deals with how you present yourselves once you get someone to visit you. For a visitor to take a ‘buy’ action, they need to be convinced about you, your services, and trust you. Whether the visitor can be converted to a ‘sale’, depends upon how you build confidence in them.
3. a. Making customers visit our site. Ecommerce prerequisites:
Search engine penetration that results in organic search results. Registration in search engines and directories complete part of the process. Once the propagation in these engines and directories begin, you start spreading the word. Once they move up in the rank, your possible ecom action will improve too.
Pay-per-click – This is something that incur expense. Here, we project ourselves within other sites and search engines paid area after auctioning the keyword and pay for it.
Public relations – news releases, articles, and stories. Most of these have been already discussed under ‘Search Engine Penetration’ topic. However, the fact is that what helps in search engine penetration helps gaining potential visitors to your ecommerce business also.
Online advertising (banners, links / cross-links, directories, newsletter placement, etc.). These steps involve creating banners that you can place in sites to attract visitors. You can solicit links from sites that have good reputation and connection to the products / solutions that you project to sell.
The first two areas discussed, ‘creating a professional site’ and ‘Search Engine Penetration’ form the pillar of the prerequisites for the ecommerce department also.
3. b. Once they visit your site, keeping them there: Converting the visitors:
In-site promotions – This can be in form of giving away reductions or other goods or accessories along with.
In-store coupons – Customers who come to buy from us could be handled coupons which they can redeem when they are making a fresh purchase with us or from other sites.
Associated Products – While they have bought some items from the store, they could be shown items that are related and offered special prices to entice them into making yet another purchase.
Customer Recommendations – Amazon.com allows an extensive wish list to be created and they make recommendations on the basis of their customer behavior. They run extensive research using their data on their customer behavior to derive business ideas. You have to exploit such features as ‘wish list’ and recommendations.
Confirmation e-mail. After a purchase has been completed, Amazon.com sends out a neat looking mail in which they give all the details about that purchase and what happens from now on, tracking the purchase etc. You have to incorporate such ideas.
Fulfillment – Normally someone buys something through ecom, he gets the item by courier. In the rare case that he can not be provided the item or if there is a delay, he must be told so and explained the reason clearly.
Relevant cross-sales – A customer who has come to buy something is likely interested in a product that complement or is an accessory for the original product. He needs to be shown the new product so that he can make a decision as to whether he wants to go for it.
It seems that ecommerce not only requires an efficient and reliable website, it also requires an effective team of professionals and logistics guys acting reliably and decisively. You have to ensure a great experience for the customer to make sure that customer returns to us and also to try to make sure that the customer spread the word.
A high quality newsletter is at the centre of this effort. Newsletter can be also published on the site for everyone to see and to get benefit of the indexing by search engines.
A neatly designed, content rich, fresh newsletter would be refreshing to your existing customers as well as to potential new visitors and customers. Newsletter has to be periodic, It must have a subscribe, unsubscribe option clearly marked.
Exploring the option:
An impressive design with a fresh and rich lead article
Simple but effective visual affects.
Big bold headlines wherever necessary
A well designed footer
That the Newsletter is sent on time
That it is branded with a name
The need to create a great user experience is important for overall user satisfaction. Sticky pages are those where people want to come back. Visitor does not have patience and they will not tolerate errors and inefficiencies as they have many options one click away.
Exploring the option:
It is important to make sure a visitor stays on in the site once he lands on its home page. This requires that all aspects such as quality content, good site navigation, simple design are taken care of. Following points shall elaborate how to create stickiness to your pages.
Make site appealing to as many visitors as possible so that they return.
We make people return to us by providing a good experience on our site
All people have their favourite sites on the web. Yours have to be the one in your field.
Your customers may not buy the first time they come. The trick is to make them come back.
You have to make visitors bookmark us so that they have a return path.
There is no trick here. If your site is not the best, visitors can’t be lured to return.
Just like how you will not go back to a boring, poor content hosted site, you can not expect your guests to come back.