A Web site can be your number one marketing tool if you keep refreshing it with new information and make it valuable to your target market.
How long has it been since you made any changes to your Web site?
For many companies, once they put up a Web site, they are done. Yeah, maybe they will add some current news events now and then, but generally a finished Web site is not something a company thinks about too much. It functions as an electronic brochure for them and thatís the end of the story. But should it be?
Letís begin to answer that question by looking at the main reason people use the Internet: to find information. Is the information on your Web site the most current available or is it dated?
How many of you have visited Web sites that list the last update as 2004? Or how about a Web site that lists a copyright date of 2005 and shows a visitor count of 1500? Sad, isnít it. Sad because these companies havenít figured out that a Web site is a dynamic marketing tool that constantly needs review and tweaking.
Iím not talking about drastic, complete overhaul; Iím talking about making changes based on your target market and how they buy. Even if you feel your company only needs a Web site as an electronic brochure you need to think about how your target market buys.
Who is Your Target Market?
Who do you want to visit your Web site and buy your product or service? If you havenít done an analysis of your target market recently, you might want to take a look again. Businesses change, markets change and your target audience changes.
Think about whatís been going on in your business in the last six months. How are things different?
*Have you started selling new products or are you offering new services?
*Have you taken your business in a new direction?
*Are you becoming more targeted as to who you do business with?
*Are you now targeting a specific industry or demographics that you werenít six months ago?
*What are you doing thatís bringing your most money?
*What are you doing that is not bringing in money?
*Have the buying patterns of your customers changed?
*Are there any business trends that are affecting your business?
*Is the local business economy affecting your business?
*Have you done a recent survey to find out who your competition is?
*Have your surveyed your customers recently to find out their needs?
*Have the goals for your business changed?
By answering all these questions you will have a current market analysis of your customers and be better prepared to meet their needs.
How Does Your Target Audience Buy?
That may seem like such a basic question, but the answer can make or break a business on the Internet.
For example, do you accept credit cards on your Web site? Someone who sells a service such as a consultant or a business coach may feel that there is no need to accept credit cards through their Web site because they are not selling any product. However, you could be wrong if credit cards are the way your clients buy. Maybe they would prefer to just go to your Web site to make their payments rather than taking the time to send you a check.
What if your customers are a little nervous about using their credit cards on the Internet, have you considered offering a PayPal payment system? For a small business, PayPal is a very cost effective way to collect money online without going through the cost of setting up a merchant account and paying its monthly fees. You can make it easy for people to give you money when you know how they buy. Now letís look at your Web site itself.
Make It Easy For Them to Buy
It doesnít matter whether you are selling a product or a service, people need and want information to help them in their buying decision. The easier you make it for them to make that buying decision, the more likely you will be the one who gets the sale.
Right now Iím working on a Web site for a small online business that has plenty of competition for the products it is selling. However, when I reviewed the online competition it became very clear that none of the sites did a good job of organizing the information so that the consumer could easily make an informed decision. Some of the sites had good information, but it was so scattered throughout the Web site that the visitor had to really look to find the information.
After talking with the owner and identifying the demographics and buying habits of the target audience, I completely reorganized and rewrote the content to meet the needs of the buyers. The content was rewritten to specifically appeal to an audience of women ages 35 plus. We grabbed that niche market to stand apart from the other online competitors who were trying to appeal to everyone.
From a navigation viewpoint, I changed things to make it easier for a visitor to buy the products. Instead of three to four clicks to make a sale, a visitor only has one or two clicks to buy a product.
As soon as this Web site goes live with the changes, this online business is going to be racking up the sales because we took the time to analyze the target audience and how the target audience buys. You can do the same thing with your Web site.
Make sure your siteís information is timely, interesting, and reflects the changes in your business in the last six months. Think like your customer, make it easy for them to buy and youíll never go wrong!
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Michelle Howe, MBA, is an expert
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