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What Are Your Website's Goals?
The water purification salesman had been talking to us for what seemed like hours. During a lull in his monologue, I asked if he had a website.
"Yes. In fact, we are the only independent distributors of this product who does," he proudly beamed.
"So you get a lot of leads from the website, then?" I asked.
"No, actually I don't think we've gotten a single lead from it," he replied.
"Then why do you have a website?" I wanted to know.
"To have a presence on the Internet."
A few days later, our home inspector was giving us an update on the state of our house. We had bought it a few years earlier in winter, when snow was on the ground and on the roof, and we thought an update would be a worthwhile investment.
"Do you have a website?" I asked.
"Yes, I do. But, I don't think a single customer found me that way."
"Then why do you have a website?" I asked.
"To have a presence on the Internet."
A lot of entrepreneurs and small businesses are sold on paying for a website because it is important to have a presence on the Internet. For many businesses, that is true. But what does "a presence" mean?
Would you open up a store in the corner office of the fifth floor of an office building, or would you open it up in the mall?
Would you leave the windows bare, or would you fill the windows with merchandise and open the door to make your store inviting?
Would you ignore customers when they enter the store, or would you carefully place merchandise and staff to maximize the revenue from each visit?
"A presence" is only valuable if the website serves a purpose, if it fulfills its goals. Just sitting there, somewhere in cyberspace, is not a sound business strategy. An experienced website marketing consultant can help you determine what goals, if any, are viable for your business website.
Here are a few of the goals you might consider for your website:
If you connect with customers by telephone, this is an ideal way to instantly deliver a pamphlet to them. No mailing, no delays, they can even call up your information while you are on the phone with them. This website has to look credible and be choc full of information.
If you are selling a big ticket item, particularly one that requires a good reputation, a website can help. This website should look upscale and focus on credibility-boosting content. It is ideal for speakers, consultants and other business-to-business service providers.
One excellent use for a website in many non-retail businesses is as lead generator. The idea is to funnel traffic (website users) into the site and lead them to take action. Such action might be to call you, to request a brochure, to request a free sample, etc. The main requirement for this is the maximum amount of targeted traffic possible, of people interested in what you have to offer.
By way of example, this website serves these first three goals: online pamphlet, credibility booster and lead generator.
Email Address Gatherer
This is really a form of lead generation, but it is unique in that you are not trying to sell through the website, but through an email newsletter (also called an ezine). The website is there primarily to pique interest, and the newsletter is there to build affinity and trust in order to make the sale. You need to have a newsletter set up, and you need targeted traffic.
Of course, if you sell hard goods, electronic goods or even many services, you can make the sales right online. You need some form of payment gateway and/or shopping cart, and your website needs to be able to make the sale from start to finish, which is not always easy. Of course, you also need customers in the form of targeted traffic.
What you want your website to achieve should dictate the look, the structure, the content, the writing style and whether or not the site is optimized for the search engines. Before investing any more money of time in your website, invest the time required to determine the goals you want your website to achieve.
Or you could be like that water salesman or my home inspector, satisfied with having "a presence". Of course, many people go through life having "a presence" on Planet Earth, but most entrepreneurs I have met are go-getters. If "a presence" is not good enough in the real world, why settle for it in the online world?
A website should be an investment, not a cost. If your website is not working for you, or if you feel your business should have a website, determine realistic and useful goals, then set your website up to achieve them.
Maybe you don't need a website at all. Or maybe your website could double your profits. Either way, don't let it sit there gathering dust somewhere in cyberspace.
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