Design a powerful marketing strategy before you submit your website to search engines

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Just Generating Traffic Is Not Enough

If there's a marketing mantra of the 21st century, it's "traffic." You hear it everywhere you go ‒ in business meetings, restaurants, airports and occasionally just walking down the street. And no, I'm not talking about the variety that clogs up the highway on your way to work.

Anyone that derives even a portion of their income from the Internet thinks about how to bring more visitors to their Web site. It's true that traffic is an important part of building an online business. After all, if no one comes to your Web site it would be impossible for you to make an online sale.

As critical as generating traffic is, whether those visitors come from the search engines or from other sources, don't become so enamored with the idea that you lose sight of the bigger picture. Traffic to a Web site is only one slice of a pie called "online marketing." Online marketing is just one slice of an even larger pie called "marketing."


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Defining Your Web Site's Purpose...

In my experience, the majority of online businesses fall into the trap of focusing their marketing efforts on more traffic, to the exclusion of all else.

Before you focus on new ways to bring more visitors to your Web site, you should first think about what is your site's primary goal.

In other words, what are you trying to do with all those people visiting your site? Unfortunately, most business owners give little consideration to this most fundamental aspect of marketing. Instead, they blindly entrust the creation of their site to a web designer. The designer, who usually comes from an art background rather than a marketing background, may have no knowledge of how to design a Web site that sells.

People may be momentarily impressed by an aesthetically appealing Web site, but without a mechanism for collecting leads and converting those leads into paying customers, your site will never realize its full potential. If you're lucky enough to find a designer who understands both the principles of good design and marketing, then you're way ahead of the game. If you're not so lucky, then it's up to you to work with your designer to implement good marketing practices within your Web site.










When I look at a client's Web site for the first time, I always ask myself, "What does this Web site want me to do?" In most cases, I have no idea what the site wants me to do -- and that's a big problem. If your site does not have a clear sense of direction, a path for your visitors to follow, then they may leave without doing anything. In fact, that's often exactly what happens.

Therefore, the first step to building an effective Web site is to decide what you want people to do when they arrive. I know, you want them to buy something.

In a perfect world, people would search for whatever it is that you're selling, find your Web site in the search engines, click through to your site, and immediately head for the order page. However, in the real world it works more like this:

Customer searches for something like "best digital cameras."

Customer finds thousands of Web sites that all sell or discuss digital cameras.

Customer clicks through to several of the Web sites in the search results.

Customer clicks around on various Web sites, trying to decide which digital camera to purchase and from which site.

Customer becomes confused and overwhelmed. Each Web site claims to have the best digital camera or to be the best digital camera vendor. They can't ALL be the best can they?

Customer decides to do more research and puts off his buying decision for another day.

Most people don't make an immediate purchase on their first visit to a Web site. However, by following the following suggestions I will give you in this and potentially subsequent articles, you can increase the percentage of first-visit purchases.




The main piece of advice I'm going to offer you today is to change your mindset altogether. Forget about trying to convince every visitor to buy immediately. Most people aren't going to buy on their first visit no matter what you sell. The harder you try to convince them to buy, the greater the likelihood that they'll become turned off and go elsewhere.

So back to my original question: What do you want your visitors to do when they come to your Web site? In most cases, you want them to at least raise their hand and say, "Yes, I'm interested in purchasing a digital camera. Tell me more." In literal terms, you want them to give you their name and contact information when they don't go straight to your order page.

Once you have their contact information, you can then begin a follow-up process, which may eventually lead to a sale, or to additional sales. Therefore, you must transform your Web site from a passive brochure and order form into an active lead-collecting machine. If you can take this first step, you will have gone a long way towards distancing your company from the competition. In order to acquire your customers' contact information, you must:

1. Give them a reason to contact you

2. Give them a choice of several different ways to contact you

3. Clearly ask them for their contact information





As you may have already discovered, getting traffic to your Web site is only half the battle. Two Web sites selling an identical product with identical traffic can be vastly different in terms of the profit margin that each one generates. Capturing names for effective follow-ups is critical to maximizing sales. Therefore, while you should continue to focus on optimizing your Web sites for the search engines, don't forget the marketing fundamentals!