Creative and innovative ways to develop and use your website to grow your business
By PROF RICHARD MILLER
Without marketing, even the best products and services will be (at best) underutilised and under-appreciated. Therefore, businesses from tiny one-person part-time side operations to the largest need to continuously market themselves to get their enterprises known. But, getting a website is only a step, because just as a successful shop needs a patron, a website is not successful, until it can attract visitors.
There are several possible ways to drive traffic to a website, just as there are numerous methods advertisers have traditionally used to get people to visit stores via print, voice and TV ads. It is not always necessary to have a large budget if the traffic is properly monitored and cost-efficient ways employed to increase exposure.
First, decide what you want your website to resemble after taking time to study how others look. This research should have a wide scope of business including global samples from foreign countries to enable a comparison of different layouts. As access to the internet continues to change, get an app for your site or, at the very least, make sure that your site can be accessed and navigated on mobile devices.
Monitoring the site
As you start implementing ways to increasing the website’s visitors you will need to know which are working and which are not, and this can be done by measuring traffic using different metrics. Regularly reviewing can be with easy visuals that will clearly show how you are doing (unique visitors, etc.). By doing so, for example at the weekly Monday meeting, (might be with your staff, an outsourced consultant (available online), or even by yourself) you will then be able to gauge how well things are going.
As the adage goes ‘What gets measured, gets managed’, so just be sure that it is held regularly and that the action points are all designed to improve the website and the traffic. Afterwards, regularly decide what should remain and what should be removed-this is sometimes referred to as an ‘audit’, helping to keep momentum for further initiatives to drive more traffic to your site.
Content on your website
Make sure that the site is updated and current by constantly ensuring a change of content. Exhibiting the same content for so long can make the website look mundane. So, create content that your customers will find insightful and useful by having a variety of types of postings with headlines that attract readership from clients, potential clients and others.
Offer extra information that your customers (such as advice) can use, as well as having news feeds from your business field automatically updating the site, regular blogs and changes that touch each as many areas of your site as possible. If there are opportunities, have customers and clients add to the site through blog comments (be sure that they are moderated). Other ways might include guest columns, contests for the product, updates on how there are reactions from your client base. All of this depends on several factors, and it is best to think of how you might utilise your own methods. Videos are cheap and easy to include on the website, making access interesting and useful – think of adding a tour of your facilities, products/services, speeches and other content to keep visitors interested.
Maximum site exposure
You need to get the website address out, so everyone on your team should have a link to the website at the bottom of their e-mails so that anyone receiving the mail can quickly and easily access the site. This, of course, should begin with you.
Consider writing or blogging for another site or news organisation as it creates interest in what you and your firm have to offer. While this is a cost-effective way to have your professional brand expanded, it is also helping to place you in a leadership position in your industry. Always try to get the website into the article, but in an age where Google is no longer just a proper noun, but also a verb, it is highly likely that those interested will easily and quickly find you. It is also wise to make use of other online platforms such as LinkedIn, which allows for interconnection among numerous users, hence helping businesses to reach a wider audience.
As you try to reach your target audience, ensure that you are creating interest through the search engines without paying. Be sure to learn how you can implement a good Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) that drives traffic to your site from the search engines organically (without paying for it). Tail words are the words that automatically pop up when someone starts searching using a word and the follow-up words immediately show. By positioning your site with the proper words, there can be added visitors.
Paid advertising might be another option for those with budgets, but without knowledge on how well things are going, it is easy to fall into the trap of throwing money at the situation and hoping that there will be an increase in traffic. So, try improving organically first, and ensuring that you have a clear understanding of how the process works, then you will better know what best serves you.
Richard Miller is an Associate professor at the Faculty of Business Administration at the Kobe Gakuin University in Japan. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org