Effective websites and Marketing 101

The early internet was an exciting era and we’ve all come a long way since then; but then again looking at many of the websites I see on a daily basis I’m not so sure.

This post is my way of opening up the conversation to see if we can do much better in marketing terms and offer some helpful ideas towards that.

Internet History
Sometime in 1995 I started thinking about my very first website after meeting an early internet pioneer who was at the time publishing “how to” guides on such topics. Soon after that I learned html and some other programming skills and developed my very first website while primarily working in sales and marketing roles.

In those days, as an early adopter I had email but web surfing (as it came to be called) tended to expensive as most ISP’s had data based plans and web browsers themselves were in their infancy.

The first easily available web browser was Netscape which we typically installed off a CD rather than downloading. Microsoft Explorer didn’t really happen till later in ’96 which really seemed like the effective start of the web for all.

It seemed at the time we could simply take the company profile and place that online and use it as part of our marketing process. We very quickly discovered 2 key moments of truth.

  1. Our company profile wasn’t that good as an external marketing document and needed to be reoriented for online use. It was ok as a supplemental document where we had met in person with existing or potential clients but as an introduction for new business it needed work.
  2. The actual mechanics of web based publishing (coding) and technical constraints of web browsers and dial-up access were somewhat limiting even if you could get a site online but still very exciting as a potential marketing resource.

Current and Future Current Needs
Fast forward 13 years – now websites have replaced business cards for many businesses and are now often the first point of exploration for many prospective customers and existing clients.

This makes having a website an essential item, but is that website as useful and effective as it can be?

We have seen massive improvements in technology and infrastructure and most importantly in pricing so that the combination of affordable broadband, digital media and popular culture has created a world wide waste where anything goes.

We’ve now had a decade or more of technicians, graphic designers, advertisers and self proclaimed “web experts” reinvent the web based on their particular skills or areas of interest as each new fad or trend comes along.

Now the actual signal to noise ratio is so loud that what is needed is to refocus on the fundamentals of why we are all online in the first place.

How does your site stack up?
Leaving aside the huge array of technology factors for the moment here are 5 related questions we should all reconsider for our website or online persona / branding.

  1. How does your website measure up on the basic (4 p’s) of product, price, place (distribution), and promotion?
  2. Does it create opportunities or does it diminish or your distract from your brand values? (what is your brand about?)
  3. How does your website support the transformation of strangers into prospects; prospects into customers and customers into advocates?
  4. If marketing is an ongoing conversation what does your website say about your business, about you and about your brand?
  5. And more significantly how do all these elements contribute (or not) to make it easier for your clients / customers / staff and your to succeed in reaching your goals.

Faced with the very real day to day demands of our business and personal lives it can be a challenge to make sure that our website/s – webface is a complementary and accurate representation of our intentions and objectives.

Next Steps
Fortunately that is where DialogCRM can help by matching your thinking with the actual execution of the finer points of an online marketing programme. We can review and optimise existing websites as well as planning and execution for new sites or projects.

Every effective website needs to be seen in the full context of your overall marketing objectives even if this seems obvious, have you done this?.

Only then should you look at the myriad of technology choices and options that can make or break your website. Naturally we have some ideas and opinions on that and would be delighted to discuss with you.

For an interesting technology history and future perspective all wrapped in one its worth checking out Ray Kurzweil TED video on – “How technology’s accelerating power will transform us”.

Note: the questions are helicopter level- each one of them is worth more discussion and if you would like to contribute or even just make a quick comment I’d love to hear from you.

In fact if you have 500 words I’ll make it a guest post with full credits given for your hard earned insights.