Web Recommendations for 2012 – What you need to consider to keep up, and make the most out of your online marketing potential
Recommendations by Esther Willinger, Eden Advertising
A website is the virtual hub of any business. It is the place that people will visit when looking for your business and services. It is a place for people to learn more about your company before, during and after they meet you. It is a reference point for your brand, services, products and support. Essentially, it is a virtual extension of your company and must be synonymous with how you represent your brand and run your business. A website can either enhance your lead generation and sales process or it can stifle it.
If a site is doing a great job at what it’s suppose to do; i.e. generate leads, increase incoming calls, get inquiry forms filled, download white papers, sell products online, etc, then any external marketing efforts that push people to the site should essentially help increase quality leads and sales.
The following are my online marketing recommendations for any company to get the most out of your website and online marketing potential. These are online marketing initiatives you need to consider to be geared up for 2012:
1. Assess your website
First, assess the success of your current site to determine if it is meeting your company objectives. Businesses and the Internet have evolved quickly over the last 5 -10 years, and even more rapidly in the last 3 years. If your site is 3 years or older, then it is time to assess it to determine if it is keeping up with your evolving business and market place.
Interview sales reps to determine if the site is driving qualified leads. What sales challenges do the sales reps have? Does the site help them overcome those challenges? How can the site help them overcome challenges and facilitate the sales process? What are common questions that sales reps get asked? Those questions should be addressed immediately on site.
Do an objective website assessment by interviewing key sales reps, and company executives to determine whether your site is accomplishing the branding, sales support and growth requirements of the company.
Oh, and by the way, if you don’t even have a site by now – GET ONE! Most people won’t believe you’re a real company that’s in business if you don’t even have a website.
2. Fix or Improve any website problems and make it mobile friendly too
If interviews determine that significant improvements are required, then make those improvements as soon as possible. Therefore priority #2 is FIX/IMPROVE the website if needed. When redesigning the new site, ensure that the interface and navigation is user friendly and search engine friendly. Also ensure that the site is mobile device friendly for smart phones, iPads, etc.
Here’s why Mobile compatibility is increasingly becoming important in the online world:
In the “Mobile Internet Report”released by Morgan Stanley, April 2011, they reported the following:
– Mobile Internet is growing faster and will be bigger than desktop Internet due to 5 converging technologies and social adoption trends: 3G, social networking, video, VoIP and impressive mobile devices.
– Use of Mobile Internet is driving mobile device growth exponentially faster than any previous computing technology. Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) exceeded 10 billion units in 2011.
– More users will connect to the Internet with wireless devices than desktop PCs within 5 years.
– Mobile phones are now data-focused as voice usage drops.
It is a fact – more people are connecting to the Internet through mobile devices and that number will only increase over the years so make sure that your new site is ready for that. Don’t disappoint mobile users! Be mobile-friendly.
3. SEO your site or run a Search Marketing Campaign and make sure your site gets found
Search is not going away. It’s how people research, compare and ultimately make purchasing decisions. Google is the largest search engine with 70% market share. If optimized well for Google, you will most likely get ranked on MSN, YAHOO!, BING and of course smaller search engines.
Therefore be found when people are searching for products and services you offer.
– Consider running a PPC (Pay Per Click) Campaign and/or SEO campaign simultaneously. PPC – to drive quick immediate results and also to provide insightful data that you can apply to your long term SEO Strategy.
– However, at the very least, add value to the quality of your site by optimizing it effectively to truly give it the opportunity to be found naturally / organically in Google when people are search for your products and services online.
– If you do a search for the types of products or services that you offer and your site is not coming up on Google or other search engines, think about all the targeted eyeballs you are missing who are at the research and purchasing phase, but you’re nowhere to be found… It’s time to consult a Search Engine Expert who can help you get ranked and get those targeted eyeballs to your site – IMMEDIATELY.
4. Video is a popular online trend that cannot be ignored
In June 2010 comScore (a leader in measuring the digital world) reported that 178 million US Internet users watched online videos in the month of April. They watched 30.3 billion videos that month. An average of 171 videos per viewer for the month of April.
Googles’ (YouTube) ranks as the top video property with 13.1 billion videos, representing 43.2% of all videos viewed online.
135.7 million viewers watched 13 billion videos on YouTube.com (96 videos per viewer on YouTube).
The duration of the average video was 4.4 minutes.
With faster computers and faster Internet connectivity, as well as video capabilities on mobile devices – videos have become easier and more common to watch. People tend to watch videos to gather and learn information quickly and immediately.
YouTube has become the 2nd largest search engine. And other online video providers such as Hulu, Netflix and GoogleTV are also gaining online video market share. Their growth demonstrates the significance and endless opportunity for online videos.
Videos are important to have on a website for various reasons:
1. Some people prefer to watch a quick video instead of reading heavy content.
2. Opportunity to present your information in a way that people can easily absorb and relate to:
– educational format – informational videos where people feel like they are learning something useful can be very influential
– showcase real people testimonials – believable and persuasive
– demonstrate expertise
– videos are engaging and believable
– videos can be funny and very effective – often funny video can go viral – people will share them and do the marketing for you
3. Online videos can be optimized on YouTube for people who are searching on YouTube or Google. It’s another opportunity for your brand to rank when people are searching for what you’re optimized for.
Therefore, videos are valuable for content and presentation purposes on your site, as well as for search engine optimization purposes.
5. It’s time to do some online PR
If not for building brand exposure and getting press coverage, building an online PR campaign goes beyond generating publicity. An online PR campaign gives a company the opportunity to expand its online reach and search presence.
PRs can be optimized with key words and drive credible and quality inbound links that further boost search rankings.
In essence, it ensures further exposure of your brand when people are searching for your company, business or products and it establishes your business as a credible and recognized source when the media is searching to interview a company with your expertise.
Thus PR is a valuable part of the online Media mix for media exposure as well as for Search Engine rankings.
6. Get into Social Media
Last but not least, it is undeniable that companies are taking advantage of online social media to engage and interact with their audience and consumers on a social level. To do this and do it well a Social Media Strategy must be developed and followed with purpose in order to be effective and generate desired results.
If you haven’t set up a company account on key social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and now even Google+ it’s time that you do that.1 But more importantly, if you are going to engage in social media, you need to develop social media marketing goals and a strategy to help you meet those goals. There’s nothing worse than a social media site that looks dry, abandoned and neglected. It’s almost better not to have a social media site than to have one that is empty, inactive and non-responsive. If you’re going to do it, do it right! That should apply to pretty much everything you do in life ;-)