Archive for the 'Web Design' Category

16
Sep
09

From up on my high horse…

I just had a casual contact excitedly tell me she has hired a marketing company to help her build her fledgling business. No problem for me, I’m not competition minded. I believe in abundance – there’s enough work for everyone. What I don’t believe in is companies that overstate their expertise and take advantage of people who don’t know any better or what to look for when qualifying a potential partner.

While I sincerely hope it works out for her I can’t help but think she’s fallen victim to a slick sales pitch or hard to believe, too good to be true pricing scheme. Why might I think such a pompous thought? I went to the marketing company’s web site.

The first thing I noticed was the ads at the top of the web site for GoDaddy. Now I’m all for reducing operating costs, but seriously, getting free hosting (the site proudly proclaims this in the most valuable real estate on the site) saves a whole $20 a month. Wow. I know things are tight but…. really?

But the real issue here is that any marketing company worth it’s salt would understand that this sends a negative brand message to anyone visiting the site. Not only does it scream “SMALL AND AMATEUR”  it detracts from focusing the attention on the firm and it’s work. Another negative is that it allows a visitor a number of options to simply leave the site at the click of the mouse. And it’s ugly.

I could go on about their clip art logo, their template based free web site, the poor grammar and more but I won’t. This isn’t about trashing another marketing firm.

I’m hoping that I can help you choose better, get better results and know what to look for when hiring outside help. And the web site is a treasure trove of clues as to the sophistication of your potential partner.

11
Dec
08

web site hurting your sales effort?

by Pete Monfre

When many companies talk about marketing, they inevitably end up focusing myopically on their company web site.  Do a search in any search engine for “marketing” and the vast majority of topics will be on-line marketing. It’s as if the web has become the singular representation of  of marketing and sales tactics.

While your web site is important, it is a mistake to consider it as the only factor in reaching prospects and converting them to customers. For most companies the web is a critical focal point during the early stages of your sales process for prospects. The trouble arises when the we attempt to make the site everything to everyone. I’m not saying there are many different uses for a corporate web site (service, support, education, social interaction, etc.) but most of my clients expect their site to primarily help drive sales. Whatever you are trying to achieve with your site, the key is to have a clear understanding of what it the end game is and then focus your efforts accordingly.

If you want your site to contribute to successful sales, you have to understand how it functions in the sales cycle, align the content with how you sell,  and take into account customer evaluation and buying criteria.

This is not as easy as it sounds. One thing that makes this idea difficult to implement, and indeed one of the main reasons most sites are deficient in this area is that the wrong people control the content on the site. Most companies put the marketing or I.T. department in charge of the company’s web site. Neither of these groups typically have any incentive to collaborate with the sales team so the content of the site often conflicts with how sales functions. A better method is to assign someone who can lead a cross functional team in a strategic process to determine the optimum approach. My process creates a collaborative environment between sales, marketing and I.T. to first establish a foundation of requirements and desired outcomes. Then, we work to align these requirements with how prospects typically use the web to vet potential suppliers.

In the majority of B2B and B2C selling environments, the web site is the primary tool a potential customer uses to decide if you qualify for their business. Once a buyer is aware of your company (either through search engines or via referral or other demand generation work) the first thing they do is check your site. My research indicates that customers visit potential suppliers sites initially with three primary questions in mind:

Do your company’s capabilities match my needs?
Is this company capable, credible and trustworthy?
Should I include them on my short list of potential suppliers?

If you pass these initial tests, you will make the short list. If you don’t, you’ll never know because the prospect won’t inform you of your failure. They will simply move on to your competitor.

The typical B2B buyer spends only minutes at your site with the vast majority never making it past your home page. You need to make sure you’ve at least answered the above questions and offered some incentives to invite the visitor deeper into the site or to contact your sales team. One way you can do this is to offer special reports or other valuable information in return for revealing the visitor’s identity (usually in the form of an email address or other contact information). Many of these people won’t be ready to buy yet, so offering a subscription to an electronic publication is effective to maintain an ongoing conversation with people who have shown some level on interest in what you offer.

At the same time, your site must be attractive, professional and easy to navigate. Visual organization is key – if the visitor is presented with a chaotic layout of graphics, text, widgets and other elements they will simply determine that it is too much work to evaluate your company and with a click of the mouse, they are gone. This is where a professional designer is worth his or her weight in gold.

If your site aligns with your marketing and sales processes and delivers the right messaging at the right time, you will pass more buyer’s tests, make more short lists and, ultimately, more sales.

11
Dec
08

How to choose keywords for SEO

The first step for increasing traffic to your web site is to gain a good understanding of how your customers use the search engines. In other words, the words you use to refer to your products and business are not necessarily the same words your customers use. So how do you find out what words are used most?

A strategic keyword analysis is the answer to this question. Using a variety of tools and techniques, we can find out how many people are searching on certain words, how much competition there is for these words, what companies are paying for keywords and much more. Typically, we find out that the words we thought customers were using are rarely searched and other terms we didn’t think of are killer keywords!

Choosing the right keywords and phrases is critical. If a search engine can’t connect your Web site to the words and phrases people are searching for, you simply wont be part of the search results.

Once you have a long list of words (some companies have thousands of keywords) it’s time to figure out on which ones you can actually compete. For example, if one of your keywords is “insurance” you will find that millions of searches on “insurance” are done every month. It would seem like this is a good keyword to use, right? Wrong – there is also a ton of competition for this word – thousands of companies trying to claim the number one spot for “insurance”. The key is to find words and phrases that have a high incidence of searches and a relatively low level of competition.

One way to compete would be to narrow the focus and geotarget – for example, “auto insurance Austin” – or “home owners insurance Texas” or “insurance brokers Austin”. While there will be competition for these words, it won’t be nearly as competitive for the most obvious words.

Contact me for more information about the Strategic Keyword Analysis.

09
Jun
08

This weeks most aggravating web sites


I was doing some research today (because that’s what I do) and came across two web sites for technology companies. (I say “technology companies because I still can’t figure out what they do) One company is relatively new so they get some slack for that. However, the other has been in business for several years and I know that it struggles to attract new clients. Both of these companies are so far off the mark with their web sites it keeps me up at night.

Why do I care? Because I know these companies have good products and services and really want to succeed. But the way they are attempting to communicate with the world completely defeats their desire to grow. It actually hurts them!

Here are my issues with these web sites

  1. Waaaaaaaay too much information. I know engineers love this stuff but there is a time and a place to barf eight million words about your gizmo or software thingy. Your home page is not the time or the place. The average web visitor spends just a couple minutes on your site. They need to know what you do, confirm you are “for real” and decide if they should talk to you. That’s it.
  2. These companies do everything for everyone. Not only will they whip up some software for you, they’ll walk your dog and do your laundry. These sites scream “For God’s sake we just need revenue and we’ll do anything to get it!” Not the strongest position in the world.
  3. They attempt to answer every question a visitor might have. Why would anyone contact you then? The idea should be to answer the visitors key questions (see #1 above) and give them a reason to contact you. As you progress through your sales process (you DO have one don’t you?) you can increase the amount and complexity of the information.
  4. One site has zero contact information! No phone number. No email address. No physical address. No teletype address. No P.O. Box. Nada.
  5. Both sites feature lots of diagrams that are supposed to illustrate what they do. These diagrams are massive jumbles of criss-crossing lines, seemingly random boxes and cryptic labels. I just want to know what your outcomes look like. I don’t need a technicial diagram of the space shuttle!

I’m not trying to be harsh or a know-it-all. I really want to help – to me this is low hanging fruit. Without engineers, we would be living in caves in gnawing on cold mastodon bones. But when it comes to marketing and selling, they are their competition’s greatest assets.




Who is Pete Monfre

CLICK HERE to visit my web site

I'm a serial entrepreneur, marketing and media guy, raconteur, writer, producer and consultant. I write this little blog to help you unravel the mysteries of marketing and selling, to expose the silliness that masquerades as marketing and help you make better decisions that will grow your business. And I have fun with it. Why not comment? That way we can have a conversation. Or better yet, hop on over to my web site and drop me a line.

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