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Monday, May 31, 2010

How to Successful Lunch a new Web site

Step 1:  Have a clear call to action and identify your main site objective

When developing a website there are many objectives that businesses want to achieve but it is important to identify one primary goal and establish the remainder as secondary aims.

Do you want to get a user to sign up to a newsletter? Become a member? Book a training session or trip? Or make an online purchase? Once you have identified the primary goal you can create a call to action strategy that will assist in achieving this objective.

Your call to action strategy can be communicated through;
  • Links
  • News feeds
  • Banner and button advertising
  • Releasing information from an intranet area in return for a user meeting an objective
  • Subscription to RSS feeds
  • Form maker

What if my site objectives change over time? Business objectives should change and develop over time so it’s important that you choose a Content Management System (CMS) that allows you to easily and affordably make changes to your site to fit with your changing website objectives.

Step 2: Have a professional, modern look and feel that allows for easy site navigation

Studies have estimated that the average consumer is exposed to up to 3000 marketing messages per day, as consumers are bombarded with advertising they have become experts at filtering out the irrelevant and identifying products and companies to investigate further. 

Once a potential customer has started to research online it is critical that your website reflects the professional nature that you conduct you offline business in. Having a site that is built on old technology with out of date design will be a deterrent to anyone looking to do business with you. 

Along with having a professional look and feel, navigation is one of the main factors in decreasing bounce rate and increasing average time spent on a site.  If a visitor can find the information that they are looking for then they will navigate past the homepage, properly designed navigation will then assist the visitor in finding other valued information and also increasing the average time spent on the site.

Key navigational points include;

  •      Use graphical navigation
  •      Generate a site tree
  •      Keep navigation consistent
  •      Ensure navigation is clear and easy to understand
  •      Use bread crumb navigation

Step 3: Constantly update, develop and edit the site

One of the fastest ways for your website to lose creditability online is to be obviously out of date, promoting a past event, reviewing an old product or updating users on old news. Out of date content is not only unappealing to users but Google search results will rank updated sites above sites that have stagnant content. Updating content will also increase your repeat visitor numbers as people return to discover new content and your RSS feed subscribers automatically receive updates.

Updating a website is different for every business in each industry but here are a couple of guidelines to follow;

  •      Post all relevant business news
  •      Keep a blog
  •      Use a CMS that can automatically remove past events
  •      Don’t update until you have solid content
  •      Review entire site content every 6 months
  •      Use a CMS that produces a content activity report
  •      Avoid changing the visual navigation too often

Step 4: Encourage user interaction

One of the major differentiators of the internet to traditional forms of media is that it allows for interaction with a user and as technology advances there are now more ways than ever to get the viewer involved. The major benefit is an increase in customer loyalty, a rise in repeat visits and a better understanding of your customer that allows you to increase relevance by tailoring future correspondence.

There are a number of tools that you can use to generate user interaction but an absolute must is the form maker tool, this is managed through the CMS and allows you to create a form that can request information on any page; for example;

You run an eCommerce site that sells books – you could place form that reads “Can’t find the book you are looking for? Enter your details along with the book and we’ll find it for you”, this will encourage users to begin communicating with you and stop them from sourcing the book elsewhere.

The amount of uses for this tool is infinite and that is why it’s our number one tool for encouraging user interaction. Other technology that can be used includes;

  •      Guest books
  •      Blogs
  •      Forums
  •      Polls and quizzes
  •      Notice boards
  •      Video content
  •      RSS feeds
  •      Social bookmarking

Step 5: Create original, keyword rich and relevant content

Taking the time to create original, keyword rich and relevant content is by far the most consuming aspect of a website development project but also the most important. Content is the life blood of any business site and with so many businesses gravitating toward the web it is becoming one of the greatest differentiators. Creating high quality content takes a lot of time and energy, spreading the task over time and throughout an office will help increase the quality of content and allow the writers to cover off all relevant topics, here are some tips to creating original, meaningful and targeted content.

  • Tailor a specific message for different landing pages
  • Focus on your sites main objective and include a relevant call to action
  • Use images to support your text, studies show that visitors are drawn to pictures first
  • Include testimonials and case studies
  • Make sure that you have enough content to keep the viewer interested
Writing quality keyword content

Choosing the correct keywords to structure your content around is vital to achieving a good search engine results. Performing a Google search will give you an understanding of what your competitors are doing and will help you establish a set of relevant keywords. Another useful tool is the Google Keyword tool; this will give you an idea of the amount of searches being performed for different keywords, other tips for writing quality keyword content include;

  •      Use your keyword in your post or article title
  •      Add your keywords several times throughout the content
  •      Bold or use italics  with your keywords
  •      Percentage of keywords to content should be between 2.5 % to 4 %

Step 6: Link your offline activities to your business website

One of the biggest hurdles to having a successful website is finding cost effective ways to drive traffic to the site. Many companies look solely to online to deliver this traffic and often forget that they have a huge captive audience interacting with them every day, their existing customers!  Branding your web address across all marketing material is an obvious start but this can be taken a lot further!
For example offering discounts for ordering online;
A café with a busy lunch time trade could appeal to existing customers to; “order online and receive a free coffee”. This has a number of benefits one being that it opens up your café to an entire office and decreases the lunch time rush, some other examples include;

  •      Branding staff t-shirts with the web address
  •      Print stickers to post the address on all collateral
  •      Having online only promotions
  •      Having online only deals
  •      Posting photos of customers and events on the site
  •      Running competitions where you sign up online

Utilising all aspects of your business to work in conjunction with the website will assist in driving traffic to the site. Self marketing and promotion is a vital aspect of this and along with other marketing initiatives will ensure that your business website from Online Now becomes a pivotal part of your businesses success.

     Step 7: Understand your customer’s online behavior

It’s important to understand your potential and existing customer’s online behavior to tailor you content, calls to action and website navigation. This will help you  to generate best results and achieve your website goals.

One of the most effective tools in understanding your customer’s online behavior is accurate website statistics; these tell you what keywords visitors used to find your site, where they exited your site and how long they spend browsing. Close analysis of competitor’s websites will also highlight areas within your site that require attention and by utilising modern website technology such as guest books or polls to simply ask users about their preferences you can start to understand your customer’s online behavior. 

A Foster Research survey found that only 23% of businesses improve their websites by making use of online data associated with how customers use their website, this figure is very low and the alarming fact is that many businesses aren’t making improvements to their site after it has been deployed. A website is a work in progress, you must be on a platform that allows for free editing and content changes and constantly be asking yourself;

  •      What’s a typical visitor to my site doing?
  •      How are they finding us?
  •      What calls to action are the most successful?
  •      Where are they exiting our site?
  •      What are visitors telling me about the site?
  •      What channels deliver visitors that help us achieve our site objectives?
  •      What changes can we make to appeal to the typical consumer?


These are just a few steps that will help you create a web presence that delivers real results, it’s important to plan your website development thoroughly and we hope that this document helps you with the preparation process. Creating a successful web presence is an ongoing commitment and finding a technology and design partner that will assist with affordable solutions is vital, please contact us for further information on how we can assist you develop an exciting, affordable business website today.


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