Is your business web-wise?
Many companies think they are. They have a website. It looks nice. People visit. They might even buy something.
But if that’s as far as it goes this is merely being on the web rather than using it. It’s a little like the proud new owner of a motor vehicle at the turn of the twentieth century promptly harnessing his horse to the front. You may have the latest technology but perhaps you’re not using it quite the way you should.
It’s all too easy to think of the web simply as a bigger high street on which your business has a cyber-store. Customers can walk in and browse or pick up a glossy brochure. They can buy with ease and everything’s smoothly automated.
In reality, however, this is squandered potential. The most successful businesses understand a company website has to work in very different ways.
Schmooze or Lose!
If you’ve been thinking of your business website as a shop then stop. Right now. Because it has the potential to be much more than that.
Many shoppers these days don’t want to be bothered by sales staff – they browse and make their purchasing decisions unaided. On the web, however, you have the perfect opportunity to create a relationship. There on the screen you have a one-to-one interaction with your prospects and if you play it right and make a connection you stand a much stronger chance of converting them into customers.
Only 2% of sales are made on the first contact. In fact, you have to reach at least 5 contacts before 80% of sales are made, which is why your website must work hard to create that relationship. Your site’s visitors have to come back and everything should be geared to making that happen.
Needless to say, imaginative, entertaining and carefully targeted copy is a must, but you have to think about broader, more interactive strategies too.
Something for Nothing
We all like something for nothing. And consequently we like the people who give us something for nothing.
This is the beauty of your website. You have something valuable to share – your knowledge and experience. Whatever your business, you can provide something your visitors want and there are two sources of potential here:
- Update your site with useful information related to your business. Selling gardening products? Then feature rolling checklists of seasonal jobs to do in the garden. Clothing retailer? Then keep customers informed of the latest fashions. Even better, create a blog with advice that connects people with your business on a more personal level. This makes customers more likely to return to the site and warms that crucial relationship. In addition, the more your site is updated the better the search engines will like you, ranking you higher in search results.
- You can provide information in e-mails. That doesn’t mean brochures – customers will come to your site looking for that kind of material anyway. You need to give them something extra that surprises and impresses them. So if you’re a car dealership don’t expect prospects to be wowed by the offer of a PDF of your latest sports saloon. Far better would be a guide on prepping their car for winter driving. In return you receive something that costs the visitor nothing but is invaluable to you: an e-mail address.
Relationships Need Work
Your prospect isn’t going to be sitting by the phone wondering why you don’t call. But now you have the online equivalent of a phone number you have to use it wisely.
An e-mail address is the golden opportunity to create further constructive contacts. If you’ve set up an auto-responder with a skilfully written e-mail campaign then you have the potential for a number of ‘home visits’. With carefully balanced marketing copy, further free information and special offers you can rapidly establish a stronger relationship with your prospect and vastly increase the likelihood of conversion.
Once this is established you have a powerful selling tool that sets to work as soon as a visitor interacts with your site. The process runs itself, is easily adaptable for new promotions and quickly starts capturing those prospects who otherwise would have clicked away to the next site in their search results.
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If your website currently offers its visitors nothing more than the opportunity to buy your goods or services then you can expect those 2% sales figures that come from first contact. If you want to increase that then you have to transform the site into a place that’s working from its very first words to create a relationship with its visitors.