What is the Real Purpose of Your Small Business Website? Online Marketing Success

From the hundreds of small business owners that I have worked with to establish their online presence, I have found that the typical owner quickly gets caught up with trying to make their website ‘cooler’ than their competitors. They worry about color schemes, layouts and fancy mouseover effects. If that isn’t enough, they get bogged down with other perks like flash animations and javascripts that do more to entertain the visitor than they do to help the visitor.

When asked what the real purpose of their website is, the typical small business owner is hard pressed to provide an answer. Unable to answer that question, they often fail to answer how entertaining their website visitor will add value to the bottom line of their small business. The truth of the matter is that all the ‘pixel fireworks’ will do nothing for their business.

As a business owner, you must consider that your website visitor is really a qualified prospect. They must be. Otherwise, why would they be visiting your website? When I say qualified prospect, I mean that they have some interest in your product or service. With literally millions of websites online, if they are at your website, they must have an interest in what you are selling. Although every visitor may not be ready to purchase or do business with you right at that time, they must have an interest in what you are selling, right?

Now compare your website to how you handle prospects that call your company. What do you do when a potential client or prospect calls you on the phone? Of course you answer their questions and help guide them to the correct solution for their problem. But don’t you at least get their name and phone number to follow up with them later? You may even get their mailing address so you can send them your brochures or the product information they are interested in. In short, you have just qualified that prospect as a sales lead.

So why would you operate your company website any other way? The real purpose of your company website is to generate those sales leads, just like when potential customers call you on the phone.

Yes, your website showcases your products. If prepared properly, your website also includes additional product information like installation or operating instructions. Your website goes on to show visitors the entire array of products or services that you offer. But in short, the real purpose of your company website should be to generate that sales lead. After all, they are qualified because they are at your website. You must, at the very least, get their contact information to follow up with them.

How do you do that? The best run company websites will encourage their visitors to sign up to a company newsletter. Typically, they entice the visitor by offering some sort of product information or other resource that is valuable information that their customers want. The information or resource that is offered for free is typically called a ‘Lead Generation Magnet’. The visitor signs up to the opt-in e-mail list in order to download that information.

Once signed up through your website, you have the contact information for that prospect. You can continue to follow up with them by e-mail (just as you would have by phone), usually using a combination of preprogrammed auto responder messages and e-mail broadcasts that keep your name in front of your prospects on a regular basis.

Developing your auto responder series and marketing to your list of prospects is beyond the scope of this article. However, what is important for small business owners to understand is that your company website visitors are really qualified prospects. Capturing their contact information and developing that sales lead is not just one of the reasons you have a company website. It should really be considered as the only reason you have a company website. Of course, that is only if you are interested in expanding your business online!

Live, Love and Profit from Your Passion; Otherwise it’s just another job!

Small Business Marketing Strategy – Website Structure

Getting Rid Of The Brochure Mentality: Many business owners and entrepreneurs build a website without understanding the fundamental reasons for doing so. As such, they create what I call a ‘brochure’ website. You may have done this already.

Well don’t be upset, it’s a pretty natural thing to do. For some reason we decide to follow the lead of the majority, thinking if everybody is doing it, it must be the right thing to do… WRONG!

So, going against all conventional wisdom, why do we put up a website? What is the best way to use it?

The Fundamental Reason for Being

Why do you need or want a website? The answer is LEAD GENERATION. Lead generation will lead to small business sales! How is your web site structure important when it comes to lead generation and marketing for small business?

Landing Pages

Well, in order to generate leads you will need to make offers. Offers need to be tweakable. Therefore, you need to be able to update your content easily and quickly. More importantly though you must have a specific page for your offer. These pages are called ‘Landing Pages’.

Let me explain…

Lets say you have a website where you are selling weight loss products. One of your supply companies is running a marketing campaign and you think you can make more sales while the campaign is running. Would you send your visitor to the home page of your website, hoping that they find the specific information about the sales campaign? That’s not going to going to be a very effective marketing campaign!

Or would you send them directly to the promotion?

You’d send them directly to it and make the offer very clear, being very specific about that offer and nothing else.

No matter what you do online, you must be able to make clear offers to visitors in order to generate leads and sales for your small business. You do that by sending them to specific pages, which we call landing pages.

Hopefully, you will be able to edit these quickly and easily, so you can tweak your offers and get the best response possible.

Search Engines Want Content

They love to suck it up! The more content you have the better! There’s a saying ‘Content is King!’. Its true.

The more pages you have the better. The more often you add and update content the better.

Did you know that the way your pages are linked together is very important? Your internal page linking strategy is as important as your external links strategy. I can hear you thinking ‘strategy, shhhhhmategy! this is getting technical, I don’t want to know about this’. That’s fair enough, it is technical. And while you can put a website up and link it together any way you please, if you want a good search engine ranking, it pays to have your site built by a professional who knows about this stuff.

By the way, what you call your pages and the physical directory or folder structure of your website is petty important too! So if you’ve got a site that has pages named page1.html, page5.html etc, you should start thinking about keywords for your page names! That’s an important strategy too.

Your small business marketing strategy must start by getting rid of the brochure mentality. You must start thinking lead generation. Everything starts with lead generation!

3 Recession-Proof Marketing Techniques For Small Business Owners

We are now officially in a recession and what does this mean for small businesses? If you are going to cut your marketing budget just because you are experiencing lower sales, you are getting it all wrong. Marketing is the element that can directly attributed to sales. Cutting your marketing budget will not help increasing the bottom line of your business at all because marketing is all about retaining current customers and acquiring new ones.

Without customers, your business will hardly survive. In this small business marketing article, I am going to share with you three recession-proof marketing techniques that will bring considerable results without having to break your bank account.

Marketing Technique #1 Social Media Marketing

The development of Internet, particularly in the field of social media has opened a wide range of opportunities for online interaction. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and YouTube act as a medium for web user interaction via different methods. People love to go to these sites and spend hours trying to meet like-minded people as well as learning more about a subject that they are interested in.

These sites also house millions (billions in total) of members. You are placing your business, products and services in front of these eyeballs if you start to upload content in the form of articles, videos, podcasts or documents onto these platforms.

Apart from providing the free content that will help to position you as an expert in your industry, you can also connect with your target market by solving problems that they have or by adding value to the relationships through giveaways of special discount codes to followers of yours on these social media platforms.

Marketing Technique #2 Customer Leads Collection

Do you have contact information of your previous and existing customers? These are leads that can play a crucial role in retaining customers to secure future sales. There is another type of leads that can be categorized as prospects, which are people that are likely to turn into customers after you follow up with them, either through phone calls or emails.

Collection of leads can be done easily with the Internet. There are a lot of autoresponders and email marketing services that seek to provide you with solutions on lead collection. Often times, people collect leads by offering their site visitors with free information. As mentioned above, you can also retain the email and contact information of your customers after they contribute to the sales of your business.

Marketing Technique #3 Organic Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization, like social media marketing, requires little or no money to get the intended results. One can employ a search engine optimization agency to perform link building and website optimization tasks for them. If you are on a tight budget, you can always learn about important optimization factors from search engine marketing blogs and resources all over the Internet.

Search engine optimization often includes keyword research to find out keywords that a potential customer is likely to search for using search engines. You will then try to optimize pages on your site by implementing various optimization elements for keywords that you plan to target. Link building comes in later as links pointing towards your site act as votes on the quality of your content and search engines rank sites for keywords based on the number of ‘votes’ you get.