Tuesday, 31 December 2013

What Makes An Effective Website - Understanding Online Fundamentals

Raymond Shores RV Resort

Part 2 of 2; Online Presence

Written by Robyn T. Braley

In Part 1 discussed the 3 elements of online marketing. I also explained the 4 steps that must be taken to develop meaningful relationships with your customers; know, like, trust and engage.I ended with my easy to understand definition of branding.   

An effective online presence is imperative in 2014. People search for products, services, locations and other relevant information online. They buy cars, make hotel registrations, seek manufacturing services, source drillbits or look for jobs. If you can’t be easily found, you are not in the game.

A dynamic, engaging site that loads quickly, is easy to navigate and clearly demonstrates your products or services will invite visitors to want to learn more. First impressions are where you start building meaningful relationships with your customers.  

Balanced Strategy

For some, this may be an “Aha!” moment. Wait for it. The most effective marketing and communications strategies balance new with traditional media. I call it media convergence. The right mix creates a synergy that produces power and impact. 

But, what does that mean? First, there is no magic marketing bullet, Virginia. No second shooter. Second, it seldom works to put all of your eggs into one marketing basket.

Last summer we ran a highly successful campaign for a client selling a recreation product. The campaign was built around a dynamic website that engages visitors with relevant text and dynamic photos. It tells the client’s story and answers questions before they are asked. An online video suite further absorbs visitors into the promise of an outstanding lifestyle experience for those who purchase the product.

Then, we produced TV commercials that accurately tell the story. We also ran targeted print and sports radio ads and the client participated in trade shows.

Using google analytics, we were able to track the effectiveness of all tools by analyzing traffic driven to the website. Adjustments were made as we moved through the campaign. The result? Record breaking sales.

Build it; They Will Come

In the 1990s many of our industrial clients were concerned that a website would bring hundreds of orders from parts of the world they could not service. That seldom happened. The days of “build a website and they will come” thinking are long past in the evolution of website development. Today, you must do more.

Search Engine Optimization

We are now entering the land of hocus pocus and advanced webschpeak (see Part 1). Everyone talks about search engine optimization, but few people understand what it really is. Some of the gurus depend on that.

Optimizing website pages and social media make them search engine friendly resulting in higher rankings. SEO is the process of bringing together a series of small actions in an organized fashion to attract search engine crawlers, spiders and robots (Go to Wikipedia).

SEO increases the number of visitors to a particular website by doing the things necessary to rank it higher on a search engine’s list of results returned in response to a query. Activities include;

  • On the page

  • Behind the page

  • Off the page

On the page elements are outlined at the end of this blog. Elements that can’t be seen and are placed behind the page include meta tags, company or product descriptions and relevant headings that are embedded in the programming. Off the page activities include strategic linking, directory submissions, social media links and other elements.

Search engines “like” it when social media (for business) messages are streamed on company websites. The messages count as content changes.

Who’s In Control

Here is a random tip. Maintain control of your website. Register your domain name on your own independent of your web designer unless there is a high level of trust. Arranging for your own hosting isn’t a bad idea either.

A former client contracted us in to build a company website following an acrimonious divorce. The parting was complicated because both spouses were partners in the company.

A stepson had designed their first website and registered the domain name. Now, whoever pays for a domain name owns it – even if the website belongs to your company. The remaining spouse had to pay a five figure amount to “liberate” the domain name – which costs around $30 per year to register. Enough said.

Photography

Photos are the currency of online marketing. Dynamic photos of real people doing real things add the human touch that is the core of relationship building. Pictures tell stories of products, processes, and people.

  • Sell relationships like a couple drawn closer because of a perfume.
  • Create emotion with a photo of a dad picking up his little girl after he was protected from danger by a safety product.
  • Show employees in action doing what they do. 
  • Display plant size and capacity. 

Wrapping It Up


Put your website to the test. Print Part 1 and this blog post to use as a guide when  reviewing your website. Future posts will go into greater detail about social media, search engine optimization and online marketing.

Key Content Elements

  1. Relevant content, content, and more content
  2. Professional photos
  3. Branded domain name
  4. Easy loading
  5. Fresh looking, simple Design
  6. Prominent branding
  7. Engaging look, feel, colors, fonts, white space
  8. Easy to navigate; 3 & 3 rule
  9. Site well organized
  10. No meaningless distractions
  11. Relevant headings
  12. Current design programming
  13. Effective SEO
  14. Contact info on each page
  15. Regular content changes

Robyn T. Braley is a writer, speaker and music composer. He is the President of UniMark Creative which focuses on website design, video production, media services (editorial and advertising), and graphic design. Contact him at robyntbraley.com or unimarkcreative.com.

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