Five Tips for Building a Self-Marketing Website

A poten­tial client recent­ly came to me with an exist­ing site. It cer­tain­ly was slick: the home­page fea­tured a Flash ani­ma­tion of telegenic young pro­fes­sion­als culled from a stock pho­to ser­vice, psuedo-jazz tech­no music, and words sweep­ing in from all sides sell­ing you the company’s ser­vice. Unfor­tu­nate­ly the page had no use­ful con­tent, no call-to-action and no Google PageR­ank. It was an expen­sive design, but I didn’t need to look at the track­ing stats to know no one came this page.

So you’re ready to ditch a non-performing site for one more dynam­ic, some­thing that will attract cus­tomers and inter­act with them. Here’s five tips for build­ing a self-marketing web­site!

One: Use­ful Con­tent for your Tar­get Audi­ence
Give vis­i­tors a rea­son to come to the site. Text-rich, chang­ing con­tent is essen­tial. In prac­ti­cal­i­ty, this means installing a blog and writ­ing posts every few weeks. You’ll see mea­sures like “key­word rel­e­van­cy” increase instant­ly as excerpt­ed text shows up on the home­page. Add videos and pho­tos if your com­pa­ny or team has that exper­tise, but remem­ber: when it comes to search, text is king.

Two: Give away some­thing valu­able or use­ful
Many smart mar­ket­ing sites fea­ture some free give­away right on the home­page: a use­ful quiz, pro­fes­sion­al analy­sis, a PDF how-to guide­book. A builder I worked with went to the trou­ble of post­ing dozens of floor plans & pic­tures to their web­site and com­pil­ing them into a PDF book, which they gave away for free. The catch in all this? You have to give your con­tact infor­ma­tion to get it. Once the free mate­r­i­al has been com­piled, the site runs itself as a sales lead gen­er­a­tor!

Three: Ask your­self the Three User Ques­tions!
It’s amaz­ing how focused the mind gets when you actu­al­ly sit down to define goals. Just about every web­site can ben­e­fit from this three-step exer­cise:

  1. Who is the tar­get audi­ence?
  2. What would draw them to the site? 
  3. What do we want to get from them?

Get a group togeth­er to through your web­site page by page these ques­tions. Brain­storm a list of changes you could make. You’ll want to end up with Defined Goals: what quan­tifi­able actions do you want vis­i­tors to take? It might well just be the suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of a con­tact form.

Four: Test Test and Test Again
Many small busi­ness­es now get a lot of their cus­tomers from their web­sites. Your web­site is an essen­tial piece of your mar­ket­ing and pub­lic­i­ty and you need to be smart about it. Com­pile togeth­er your favorite site-improvement ideas and make up  alter­nate designs incor­po­rat­ing the changes. Then use a tool such as Google Web­site Opti­miz­er to put the alter­na­tives through their paces. Which one “con­verts” bet­ter, i.e., which design gets you high­er per­cent­ages in the Defined Goals you’ve set? Once you’ve fin­ished a test, move on to the next brain­storm­ing idea and imple­ment it. Always be test­ing!

An exten­sive series of tests of one site I worked on dou­bled it’s con­ver­sion rate: imag­ine your com­pa­ny dou­bling its inter­net sales? It is com­plete­ly worth spend­ing the time and effort to go through this process.

Five: Don’t Be Afraid to Get Pro­fes­sion­al Help
If you need to hire a pro­fes­sion­al to help you through this process you’ll almost cer­tain­ly get your money’s worth! A recent projects cost the cus­tomer $6000 but I was able to doc­u­ment sav­ings of $100,000 per year in his pub­lic­i­ty costs! See my piece “What to Look For in SEO Con­sul­tants” for my insider-advice to how to pick a hon­est and com­pe­tent pro­fes­sion­al web pub­lic­i­ty con­sul­tant.

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