When was it? Year 2000 or so, maybe 2002 – when all businesses started to feel the need in building a website?
If you were in business, you needed a website right? Today, it is not even discussed, it is automatic.
A website adds credibility to your business, it is a virtual business card. In the beginning, having a nice site, where you could send prospects and customers was beneficial, if for no other reason than that credibility. The problem was they were expensive, and technical to create.
Over the last number of years, the costs have come down. The purpose of credibility is still there. But today, a website should be more than just a credibility tool. This is especially true now that having a website no longer differentiates your business.
First off, I am not a web designer. HTML could be laid out in alphabet soup and I would not figure it out. I am in business, so that means I need to have a working knowledge in making sure our websites help the businesses I work in. I have learned by working with some web-design pros, marketers and trial and error what the most important rules are, in having an effective website.
So here are the top 5:
1. What is the website’s purpose?
We mentioned credibility, that is good. Your website’s purpose should be tied into your marketing plan and how you want your company positioned to your target market. At STAK Fitness, (www.stakfitness.com ) we have worked to have the website as a resource for information on our products, our services, our mission and our people. We have a blog connected to the site to bring our people and our purpose alive.
At www.greglawlor.com the purpose is credibility and resource. It is personal site designed as a platform for my views about business, health and wellness. (topics like this!)
How is your website connected to your marketing plan? I favor using it to highlight our services, share information, and connect to everyone associated with our operations.
Most importantly it is a great tool, especially in fitness , to be a resource on all that is health and wellness. If your marketing plan, is to position yourself in your community as the best fitness option – then the website needs to speak to that goal. It should be a resource for your prospects, customers, employees, vendors and anyone connected to your business.
2. How will you drive traffic to the website and have it generate leads?
Think of the website has a retail store. Now we need people to go to it. There are countless strategies- from including in your email correspondence, using social media, search engine optimization, on and on. To strategically use your website is probably the most overlooked area in making it useful for the people you serve. A good place to start is to make sure you understand the top search terms for your offering in your community. If you offer fitness services, and when people search “personal training your city” and don’t find you – not a good sign. It is important to be where your target market is looking. A good website should be more than a glossy brochure, lead generating is also critical. Offer a free report or something of value to your target market and presto , you have a lead.
3. Keep it updated
Nothing worse than a static site with information from 3 years ago. If the website is a platform to speak to your target market, then it must evolve the content regularly. So let’s step back – we are busy enough, we don’t need another job and outsourcing this without a purpose is not the answer either. The site needs to be on a platform you or some of your people can access and keep updated. A small amount of time every month can accomplish this in making sure the information is updated.
4. Connect with/hire an expert web design team
This you can outsource. Find a group who is reliable and who has lots of good testimonials/referrals and have them be your technical guide. They can give you examples of how they have achieved the above 3 goals and in today’s marketplace do so for a very reasonable price.
MG Webcom is the company I currently used and is very fitness focused www.mgwebcom.com They have great tools on driving traffic as well as setting up a website. In today’s day and age, having both the web skills and traffic driving tools is highly recommended.
5. Make sure your site has value to the people you serve
Information that will keep people on the site, as well as keep them coming back. Nothing is more complimentary than having the website on someone’s bookmark. This can be achieved by having multiple people from outside your company look at the site, and give some feedback. Sometimes the website only looks good to the creator – not the goal! Having a blog, or various contributors’ helps in making sure the website has information want to find out about. Making sure your site has value is the backbone to the website itself.
You don’t have to be technically inclined or spend big bucks or hours in order to have an effective website.
I have learned over the years, that not only do you need one, but it needs to follow the 5 above rules to be effective.