How to avoid basic Web Marketing errors that can damage your business
As with any form of Marketing communication, you have to know what you want that communication to achieve. At the very least you'll want people to contact you - either by email or preferably by phone. If you're looking to sell online, you want them to hit the "buy now" button.
Don't make it difficult for a customer to get to the desired action. And always ensure your website reinforces your credibility and gives potential customers the confidence that you are good to do business with.
Focus your website on your customer
The biggest website faux pas is to bang on about what you do - you need to effectively demonstrate how you can help your customer. They're not interested in you (other than needing assurance that you are a credible supplier) - they're focused on their problem. 90% of websites get this wrong. This is your biggest chance to steal a march on the competition.
Search Engine Visibility
The internet really is the ultimate selling tool. You can harness its power without spending a fortune on pay-per-click. Submit your key words to Google (around 80% of all internet searches are on Google), but make sure your website text echoes these words - especially your headlines. Build links to your website from other websites relevant to your business, to help improve your natural page rank (reciprocal agreements are a good start). List your business on as many free index/directory sites as possible - including Google Maps - and in time you'll get yourself found.
For more information on search engine optmisation, read Di's Marketing Update blog
Pay per click
If you can't wait for the search engines to start ranking your website (it does take time) then use pay-per-click wisely. You pay every time someone clicks through to your website, whether that produces a sale or not. You need a strategy to make sure people only click on your link when they are really focussed on what they're looking for. When people submit a search phrase, they keep refining it until they filter out all the inappropriate results. So make sure you only bid on really precise keyword phrases.
Converting traffic to customers
Getting traffic to your website is only the start of it. There's a human on the other side of that screen and you have to engage them and make them want to stay on your website. Make your website interesting to read. If you can't be bothered to write good copy, don't expect customers to bother reading it!
And you want them to take action - buy online, email enquiry, sign up for your newsletter or pick up the phone. Keep focused on the outcome you want and design your website to make it easy for them to get there. Don't put barriers in the way.
Are free websites any good?
Website templates have now become so good, you don't have to spend thousands of pounds to get a professional-looking website - only if you really want something really unique. (This website is built on templates at yola.com - a low-cost option). Google Blogger is a great way to develop a free website and Wordpress is even more adaptable, as you can make a static page your home page rather than the blog.
But beware, if your website looks unprofessional, customers will assume your business is unprofessional too.