by Lorrie Thomas
Whether you want to sell to the masses or get riches by serving niches, the Web needs to be put to work to help you grow and support your business.
Having a Web site does not mean that you are engaged in Web marketing. The true meaning of Web marketing is maximizing exchanges, which can be in the form of leads, connections, information sharing, awareness, or referrals. Maximizing exchanges leads to maximizing sales.
Web marketing is a powerful marketing tool, but steps need to be taken in a logical order (great site first, traffic driven to it second) so your money spent truly counts. There are four main areas that, when married up, can help you make your small business big:
1. Design. You never have a second chance to make a great first impression online. With your competition only a click or two away, you need to make every Web site visit count. Good design establishes your brand and your credibility, evokes trust, makes navigation clear, appeals to your target customer, and makes them feel good about doing business with you.
2. Usability. Just because you know how to use your site, that doesn’t mean that your visitors do. Make sure your site has a clear purpose, easy navigation, clickable items that look clickable, and clear calls to action. Show your visitors what you want them to do when they get to your site—we need guidance!
3. Salability. Make it crystal clear in your content who you are, what you do, who you serve, and the value of what you do (if you don’t toot your own horn, nobody else will). Good site design is key, easy-to-read information is key, and showcasing case studies, testimonials, and what makes you different/better from the competition are all imperative for success. Oh, and make your contact information easy to find and make it easy to buy online.
4. Visibility. If you build a Web site, there is no guarantee that they will come. But there are so many ways to increase awareness. Make sure your site is designed to attract search engines; create community with blogs and social media; offer value on your site via good content; and find ways to connect, communicate, and collaborate! Leverage your asset as a woman entrepreneur—your voice. Get on online networks, forums, blogs, create video, post press releases on online newswires, e-mail, and podcast—get heard.
Stop thinking Web site—start thinking Web solution. Do not underestimate the Web as a tool to maximize awareness about your business—it’s a tool that will pay for itself.
Lorrie Thomas is a Web marketing speaker, strategist, and educator. She teaches Web Marketing Applications and Search Engine Marketing Applications classes at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Berkeley.
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