Internet Marketing & Effective Websites

October 26, 2004 by Diane Vigil in

Very often, people who approach us about website projects may already have encountered some frustrating barriers: Web jargon, confusing technology, or lists of non-intuitive options that they may have lacked the knowledge to evaluate.

As marketers who came to the Web, one of our most successful activities has been to provide clients with the orientational information necessary to enable them to make educated choices. This article, although not as specific as an in-depth private consultation about your company and your particular circumstances and goals, presents a glimpse into that orientation.

Websites & Internet Marketing

While much can and will be discussed about how a website could or should look, the bottom line is that, in order to make a website successful, you must make two things occur:

  1. Attract visitors to the website
  2. Convert those visitors to customers, sales leads, etc.

The bottom line is that this is a marketing effort, with all elements going towards serving your goals. While marketing on the Internet can be highly effective (and cost-effective), the Internet is also intensely competitive, more so now than ever, and chances are that most of your competitors are there, too. Thus, it pays to look at what might be needed both to attract visitors and to convert them to customers.

  1. Attract visitors to the website

It is better to begin website planning, and budget spending, in the knowledge that once that website exists, you'll have to ensure that it is easy to find. The fact is that, like any "location", websites need to be promoted. Methods exist of attracting customers to websites: email newsletters, paid advertisements on websites, paid listings at search engines (you pay for every visitor to your website), and free listings at search engines, to name a few.

Free search engine listings are those website links that appear after you do a search (the ones not marked "Sponsored" or "Advertisement"; these are paid for). In almost all cases, websites do not automatically appear at the top of search engines without specifically being crafted to do so, especially for topics for which there is much competition. This falls outside of the "web design" capability; the crafting of websites for search engine rankings is called "search engine optimization" and requires skill and a specialized knowledge base.

However it is achieved, it is imperative to ensure that people who are interested in what you have to offer visit your website, so that the next step can take place.

  1. Convert those visitors to customers, sales leads, etc.

This is the main focus of market-oriented web design; without making too large a point of it, if this doesn't happen, then the site will likely fall short of its potential. To be technical about it, essentially the site must "sell" your visitors on your product, service, company, what have you — which, of course, requires that a knowledge of marketing and sales, presentational design, ease of use (usability), and art and communication be wrapped adroitly into Web technology. It can be done.

Effective Websites

Websites can be unlimited in size, can present every one of your services, can sell any and all of your products, can encourage people to contact you by phone or by filling out a form online, and can do all of this whether during office hours or not — all of which can save you money in terms of staffing requirements.

With these general goals in mind, we've found the most successful approach to be to create a website with these features:

  • looks professional and represents your company well
  • targeted to your customers
  • increases customer "comfort level" (by increasing your company's credibility with customers)
  • unconfusing, easy to get around and enables people to find what they're looking for (usability)
  • designed to make people remember your company (branding)
  • images and text created not just to present, but to sell
  • contains the information it needs to contain
  • downloads fast and is built for easy future expansion
  • increases your exposure and attracts interested potential customers through built-in techniques designed for high search engine rankings
  • tested in multiple browsers (Internet Explorer, Netscape, etc.), monitor sizes and screen resolutions
  • encourages customers to take action, which also helps to achieve your goals

Websites are cost-effective

It should be becoming clear why websites may cost more than you'd think — creating effective websites require more time, knowledge and effort than many people initially believe. Of course, if your web designer doesn't do all of the above, you may find that you'll need to hire another (or a few) companies to rework the website in order to ensure its workability for your purposes.

Regardless, I think you'll find that using a website to market your products and/or services on the Web is extremely cost-effective. True story: twenty years ago, a full-page ad on the last page of the first section of the Los Angeles Times cost $40,000 … and that's for one-shot advertising that is most definitely not the reason that people buy the publication, whereas people visit websites in order to obtain something.

Whatever the cost, your website will certainly last longer than one issue of a newspaper. It will market effectively for you from here on out, given perhaps $20-$30 a month for web hosting and $10 per year for your domain name (mywebsite.com).

That said, there is no dearth of websites on the Web.

Yours just needs to be compelling.

One Comment for "Internet Marketing & Effective Websites"

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