Web Presence – The Small Business Marketing Must Have

Let’s face it, if you haven’t got a web site these days, you haven’t arrived! But that’s not the half of it!
Doing the bare minimum
Loads of businesses recognise that web …

21st June 2007 at 3:08 pm

Let’s face it, if you haven’t got a web site these days, you haven’t arrived! But that’s not the half of it!

Doing the bare minimum

Loads of businesses recognise that web presence is a ‘must have’ for their marketing mix and so diligently get themselves a website – either off the shelf and self-populated, or by paying someone to knock a few pages together. So they can say ‘Done it! I’m here!’ and of course equally earnestly, they apply the web address to all business cards, collateral and anything else that goes into production for ever more.

Why a little, isn’t enough

These guys have got it right in one critical respect. Our ‘virtual world’ is getting more real by the day. 30 million UK users are on-line and 80% of those have Broadband, according to the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau). In a nutshell this means that the Internet is fast emerging as a primary (and cost effective route) to reaching your customers. Which is why it makes sense that the Internet should act as a communications hub for a lot of businesses. The thinking is simple – put a reasonable amount of company and product/service information on-line. Then use other, carefully chosen media and printed tactics to drive traffic to the web.

Where a lot of companies fall down is by believing that having web presence is enough. These days, best practice in web design is a science in its own right. Rather than give you a super-techie manifesto for good web design, here are a few handy tips and key considerations to point you in the right direction.

Be seen! Your web address on a business card is not going to be enough to drive traffic to your web site. Your content needs to be optimised for visibility to search engines. That means good structure and ‘tags’ (doing this is not a job for an amateur – but shop around and you won’t have to pay the earth for the right kind of technical help).

Keep it Simple! You can have plenty of content on your site – but make sure the structure of the content is straightforward, intuitive and easy to get to. The navigation is critical – but also don’t succumb to any desires to dress things up with fancy animations that are going to slow your site down. Time is your reader’s most valuable resource.

Write with your reader in mind – give them the information they want, not knobs and bells. Research suggests that an on-line audience responds differently to an audience looking at a pretty piece of print – so don’t fall into the trap of recreating a printed brochure, page for page, on line. Structure information to give important facts in a sensible order.

Remember the web is dynamic – it allows you to link to content (your own and others) in a way that can add value to your story and weight to your sales message. (I could write reams about how to make the most of the dynamic potential of the web – but the best thing to do is browse a few of your favourite big-brand sites, clock what’s clever about the way they present their info to you and see if similar rules can be applied to your stuff).

Keep it fresh! If you want any potential customers to return to your site more than once, you have to treat web content and web build as a marathon rather than 100m. Engaging, relevant and up-to-date content is the order of the day. If you produce your web site and then forget about it, the likelihood is that your customers will too!

If you want to become just enough of an expert on all things web in a couple of hours, to leave you sufficiently well versed to find and brief a competent web specialist, I can highly recommend Killer Web Content by Gerry McGovern. Easy to read and straight to the point. Just like a good web site!

Sara Scott

Sara is a marketing specialist with a wealth of on-line and traditional experience. With award winning credentials as an advertising writer, her career also spans the disciplines of planning and strategy for both B2B and consumer clients. Having worked for one of the the UK's biggest non-London agencies, Sara now works on a consultancy basis for clients large and small. http://www.smallbizpod.co.uk/blog

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  1. Karen Bryan says:

    I think that having a blog as part of your website is one of the best way to keep your site fresh, improve website ranking a get more visitors to visit your site. I started a blog for my online travel business in October 2006
    http://www.europealacarte.co.uk/blog. It helped increase my Googe Pagerank from 4 to 5 and led to large increase in sales. I’ve now started a blog to help other businesses create and maintain a successful blog.

    Business blogs haven’t really taken off in the UK but I think all businesses should be looking into having a blog as part of their marketing mix.

  2. Alex Reed says:

    I would underline the point made by Sara. Offer something they want…indeed need…even better when you are the only one offering it. Our travel site added a destination guide earlier this year…packed with useful info. Since adding these text rich and unique pages we have increased traffic by 35%.

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