Monday, January 9, 2012

Make Your Website A Business Asset

Your business cannot and should not be limited by a physical shop front. The moment those shop doors close, the level of accessibility your customers have to your products and services also closes. That's why a business website is a key ingredient to increasing your chance of success. A website for your business gives potential customers a meeting point in which to assemble when they cannot access your physical store. This means that they can find you, your products, and your services around the clock from any location. There is more freedom in a business website, particularly if it showcases your products/services or has eCommerce capabilities. And now more than ever, many businesses are opting to have an online shop front as their sole trade of business, thus accentuating the success you can experience online.

You may already have a basic business website, and that's great. But it's important that this website is targeted towards your ideal customers and optimises your chance of attracting qualified leads. A simple website, executed well, has as much chance of attracting prospects as a more intricate design template. So what are the key ingredients for attractive, effective website design?

1. Aesthetically appealing design. Because no one wants to look at a website that is all text or flashing graphics. Know when to use these things and know when to use certain elements sparingly. Ensure your colours/graphics/layout aligns with your business branding. Simple is usually better, so long as your marketing message is on target. Which leads us to:

2. A targeted marketing message. This is the time when you really need to know your audience. You need to know exactly who your products and services are designed for, what they are looking for, when they are looking for it; every detail down to their gender and age group. The more you know about your ideal prospects, the more you know how to appeal to them, gain their trust, and keep that trust for long-term business relationships.

3. Lead conversion tactics. Aesthetically appealing design and your targeted marketing message will all tie in to convert your leads to sales. Because you know your customer well, you'll have successfully captured their attention with design and sparked interest with appealing products and services. So you've got their attention, and maybe now you've even got their contact information. Now you need to offer them something that appeals to them; something that they, as your ideal customers, won't be able to resist or turn down. It could be discounts, competitions, special offers; only you know what will appeal directly to your audience. So give them a taste and convert them!

If you don't currently have the resources to build a business website, never fear; you can make use of some basic online resources to increase your market exposure and your online credibility. A Google Places listing for example, is a simple resource you can make use of and claim as your own. A Google Places listing allows you to include your business information including website, address, photos, and any special offers. It is likely to become the first result when customers search for your business or products through Google, so it's very shrewd to control your own listing rather than letting Google collect information from third party online information. Verification is straightforward and can be completed in a matter of minutes.

Social media marketing is also a cost-effective method of managing your online presence if you're not quite ready to launch your own website. Many users use Facebook nowadays as a type of search engine, and having a noticeable presence on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and even YouTube increases your online credibility and market exposure. Social media marketing allows you to stay in your audience's periphery at all times with updates, offers, information, and photos.

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