Internet marketing: Creating an effective business website

- February 11, 2006 3 MIN READ

An effective business website lets you communicate with prospects to a degree that no print publication can match. Why have a static brochure website when you could be using Internet marketing to your advantage?

Whether you have an effective business website already or if it’s still on your to-do list, at some point every solo and small business will go through through this process:

  • Decide you need a business website.
  • Surf around the web looking at other sites, especially competitors, and note what elements you want in your site.
  • Search your contacts for a web designer, if you can’t find one, search the web for one and hire her to build your site.

This is a recipe for disaster! Here are the reasons that why a successful business website built this way won’t work:

Personal preference decision-making is flawed

Without online marketing skills, poor decisions are inevitable. You might want certain graphic elements on your website just because you like the way they look, are convinced you have to have an “about us” page because every other site does and demand a certain colour because you think it “looks professional”. While these ideas aren’t inherently wrong they are symptomatic of a common problem – too much focus on design and decisions which lack practical justification.

You can’t expect your web designer to provide all the answers

You may think your web designer should help you establish a successful online presence. That’s what you hired her for, right? Unfortunately most web designers are not online marketers. They will be good technically and creatively – a great one will be able to create anything you ask – unfortunately that’s like buying a sports car and not knowing how to drive.

The usual result of this combination is a beautiful website that doesn’t do anything. Yes, you are proud of it, you eagerly parade it around to all your friends and family but unfortunately no one else knows about it. It doesn’t bring you any new business – the reason you built the site in the first place!

Want more articles like this? Check out the online marketing section.

Copying those that “seem to know what they’re doing” doesn’t work

Most other solo business website owners don’t know how to market online so you will repeat what doesn’t work. The few that do have successful sites know the ‘secret sauce’ when it comes to online marketing, and you can’t replicate that because it’s unique to each business.

Websites are not brochures

Most people think of a website as an online pamphlet, whereas it should be viewed as a dynamic customer relationship building tool. Your aim is to build a website that can convert prospects without you personally selling at all.

But you need to understand the mechanics of how your website can help build customer relationships.

How to build customer relationships through your website

Marketing 101 tells us you need to make between three and seven contacts with a person before they will buy from you. It’s not a perfect rule but does demonstrate the importance of ongoing communication with your potential customers. Relationship-building is vital for success.

If you stick a sign in front of a person proclaiming they should buy your product, very few will. Even if your sign is in front of people who actually need it, still very few will buy because you have not established trust with them. Relationship building establishes trust which leads to sales, and the same applies to online selling.

Internet marketing strategies often involve giving away a sample of what you offer to demonstrate value, putting your expertise on display and starting a communication dialogue with potential customers. The beauty of the Internet is that your website system can handle this process for you automatically, once you set-up it will keep working hard to bring you new customers.

The free samples must be genuine resources, something that teaches or solves a problem. You don’t have to give away all your secrets, but you must demonstrate you know what you are doing. Examples include free downloadable reports, e-courses delivered via email, articles, whitepapers, subscriptions services, newsletters – anything that provides genuine value to your website visitors.

This starts trust-building with your website visitors, validates your credibility (you’re not all talk) and importantly, gives you a mechanism to create a link with your prospects – they give you their email address. With communication channels open you can continue to soft-sell yourself, build more trust and keep your business fresh in the mind of your target market.

In part three of this series I will introduce you to the most important tool of the trade that automates the relationship building process for you and can be seamlessly integrated with any website – email autoresponders.

This article is part 3 of a series on Internet Marketing. Below are links to all 8 articles in the series:

Internet Marketing Part 1Its use as a business growth strategy
Internet Marketing Part 2 – Creating an effective business website
Internet Marketing Part 3 – Using email autoresponders
Internet Marketing Part 4 – How to use pay-per-click advertising
Internet Marketing Part 5 – Introduction to search engine optimisation (SEO)
Internet Marketing Part 6 – Search engine optimisation part 2
Internet Marketing Part 7 – The basics of blogging for business
Internet Marketing Part 8 – Breaking down technical skills barriers