Building a Website to Compete
Marketing / Aug 28, 2017
One of the best things about the internet is the openness and accessbility. From a bussiness prespective, this provides a very interesting oppurtunity. No other avenue provides such an oppurtunity for a small bussiness to so effectively compete with larger brands. While you might lack the budget or recources of a larger company, the reach of the web helps to create an equalized playing field.
Today we're going to look at some techniques you can use to help establish your brand and compete in the online space. Just because you're small doesn't mean you can't make a lot of a noise, and that's the beauty of the internet. The important to thing to keep in mind regarding your website is that it is a means to end. In most cases, it's a marketing tool to drive some sort of conversion; whether that's a sale of some product or a call to your business depends on your unique model. Keeping your end goal in mind helps to focus your decisions along the way.
Create a Winning Design
The first step to a successful web presence is to have a visually pleasing site. Have a good looking website design is critical. It is, after all, the first impression a potential client has of you and your business. Making sure it's a good one is important to generate that initial trust. As much as we don't like to admit it, we're only humans and make snap decisions based on appearance. Your website is an extension of your brand, and it should visually enforce that.
As important as the design is the layout, flow, and functionality of your site. If site doesn't work, or does so poorly, it's going to potentially dissuade future clients. This is also taken a step further by ensuring your layout/design works to create business. What this means is that the flow of your site should encourage and make your main conversion points a focal point. For example, a hotel website will always give the user the ability to book a stay on every page. Your website should do the same, for whatever your main conversion points are. Take some time to plan out the actions you want a user to take when they're on your site. Then, make sure those actions are clear and easy to do.
Generate a Thorough Online Marketing Plan
Your website should be an integral part of your marketing plan, and by extension should have its' own plan to drive traffic to it. This seems a bit counterintuitive at first, but makes sense once you think of your website as the end of your funnel. Your website is the ultimate marketing tool, there's no other avenue where you have so much control to disseminate information, capture lead info, and generate sales.
The key when creating marketing plans for smaller web preccenses is to limit your focus. It can be tempting, for example, to go out and register on a dozen social media channels. But, from experience, generally only a couple of those will really lead to any consistent results. The goal then is to find out which ones, and focus on those; atleast to begin with. While a larger company might have resources to target all of them, it pays for small company to limit their focus. You should also be focused on a solid SEO (search engine optimization) strategy that looks at targeting less competitive keywords to bring in traffic. This is a very slow process, but well worth the effort.
If you're not farmilar with all the aspects of online marketing and SEO it's best to find someone who is. The fact is that there is really so many different approachs and avenues to take it can b dizzying to a newcomer. While it's okay to spend time learning most small businesses don't have weeks or months to start generating leads. An initial investment in an expert up front will pay dividends on the backend when you start generating sales weeks before you would have on your own.
Focus on Quality Content
Content is king, if you've ever done marketing on the web you've probably heard this saying once or twice; and for good reason. Making sure all the content on your site or distributed by you is of high quality is important to building trust. This includes any sort of copy, images, videos, and other content you produce. Your content strategy should be included in your marketing plan, but is so important we decided to give it some extra attention.
Good content sets you apart, exactly what you're looking to do. Having a quality backing shows to potential customers or clients that you know what you're talking about; you're an expert in the field. This is key to outshining larger competitors. Customers want to know who their working with knows what they're doing, and your content can help demonstrate just that.
Knowing the purpose of your content is important too; not every article has to be focused on generating sales. Sometimes it's just as effective to create content for brand awareness or informational purposes.
One of the most powerful things you can do is build a relationship with your customers. One of the most effective ways doing so is with social media. Now we're not saying to go out there and register for every platform under the sun. It's much more efficient, at least to start, to focus on a few select platforms that match your customer profile. Each network has its own demographic of users, and its important to match that to your ideal customer. That's not to say you can't go out and register for additional networks, but for time or budget strapped small bussineses it's easier to start small and expanded.
There's been a lot written on relationship building on social media, so we'll just briefly touch on a high level overview. The first thing to understand is the medium of the platform your on. Posts on twitter are going to look pretty different from those on instagram. The best way to figure out what to do is to spy on your compeititors. Take a look at their posts, see what they're posting and how many engagements it gets. Use that as the basis of your strategy.
Generally, you'll want your posts to be a mix of promotion and genuinue helpful advice. The goal here isn't a hard sell but to build trust. You want to position yourself as an expert in the field and do so by providing real value to your followers. As far as posting amounts go, there's a lot of conflicting information out there. It's going to vary by market but the one common piece of advice is consistency. Make it a point to post to each platform atleast once a week without fail, and then go from there.
While this has only been an overview hopefully it's given you ideas on how to create a compeititve website. One thing to keep in mind is that this is by no means a quick proccess. Very rarely does anything become an overnight success. Things like building relationships with your followers is a long process, but well worth the effort. Keep at it and you'll reap the rewards!
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