I am meeting an increasing number of business owners in my marketing practice who are confused about Website Promotion.
At first glance, they appear to have been ‘mis-sold’ websites.
Or have they?
They have bought new websites but are often unaware of the necessity of website promotion. There is no SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) included (at all) in the build package and there has been no consideration of how the website will be launched and promoted.
More importantly, NO budget has been left for this. It’s like building a house… except it’s not connected to the mains, water or sewage, there’s no telephone and no letterbox.
Oh, and the postman can never find it either.
So why does anyone still think that it is enough to just build a website and put it live.
Well, I believe the fault lies on both sides: web developers and designers who don’t educate their clients, don’t integrate with other marketing providers and dare I say it, don’t think it’s their problem. But it also lies with the the client, who may not understand what is involved (after all, who does, the first time around) and may not have done their research before commissioning a new website.
So what is the solution?
Well, I believe that “3 is the magic number”!
There are 3 key phases in bringing a new website to life:
Phase 1: Design and Build
This is where you build the foundations for an effective online presence but it needs to fit your business size, model and sector. It also needs to serve your target markets and customers, so the preparation and planning phase is crucial. Typically, a web developer or programmer will build the framework for your website, incorporating structure, functionality and purpose: e-commerce, database, directory, ‘brochure-ware’, etc. They may build it on open-source software or bespoke, i.e. software code that has been developed by them. The choice of software will largely depend on the type of website you require and the developers knowledge and preferences.
They may help you to purchase domain names (what will ultimately be the ‘address’ of your website) and arrange hosting, where your website will be ‘stored’ if you don’t own your own web server.
A web designer will create the ‘look and feel’, the colours, images, design and page layout and advise on copy – the words and headings to go on each page. They will work closely with the client, aiming to reflect their brand and the purpose of the website. This may include Social Media integration, contact data capture forms, blogs and other tools for customer engagement.
Web copywriting is a separate task and the words you use on each page of your website will help you to be found by search engines… or not.
Phase 2: Search Engine Optimisation
Some of the work on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) will be done as your site is being built and populated: as the images, headings and copy go on to the page and are saved into the fabric of the website. Some software even gives prompts and feedback on how ‘SEO friendly’ the copy on a page is.
SEO also covers the registration of your website domain with all the major search engines, keyword research (looking for the search terms that customers for your type of products or services most readily use) and sometimes adding your domain to online directories, though this approach is becoming superceded by other methods.
Alongside this activity, the focus will be on attracting visitors to the website to increase its ranking on Google and other search engines: the more visitors for particular search terms or who type in your website address, the higher up the list you go.
In recent years, Social Media platforms have been used to ‘drive traffic’ to websites and to improve the ranking of a website on Google by benefiting from the platform’s own ranking on Google: facebook and Linked In business pages will appear in search results, for example.
Phase 3: Promotion and Launch
It’s not uncommon for even the biggest brands to run TV or print advertising campaigns that end in an appeal to “Visit our Website for…” or “Book Online” but increasingly, these campaigns have moved online. After all, it’s where we spend a lot of time!
Inbound Marketing including email marketing, blogs, podcasts, video, online events, social media, whitepapers and other forms of Content Marketing work by creating and publishing ‘stuff’ widely that will pop up in google based on the search terms the customer uses or will be shared with them by someone they are already connected to, typically via Social Media. Email Marketing is one of the most effective ways to sell to customers and we ALL buy and act in response to emails all the time.
Outbound Marketing including direct mail, leaflets, TV, radio and display advertising (on websites) require you to ‘buy attention’ and whilst they are less and less used, in some industries they are still extremely effective: travel, cars, insurance.
Digital Marketing is a combination of of inbound and outbound marketing methods and will typically include any tactics from pay per click advertising (you set a budget or ‘cost per click’ that you’re willing to pay), display advertising (you buy advertising space on a search engine or website – online newspapers earn significant income from this, as does Google, Social Media (but not tweets about your breakfast) and advertising on social media platforms, keyword research and SEO.
So, should the budget be split equally 3 ways?
In my marketing practice I get involved at all stages, but personally, I don’t think so.
If a site is well-built and well-optimised, you may not need to invest heavily in Marketing and Communications to launch or promote it.
But if the internet is where you plan to do business especially if you have an e-commerce website then something has to be left in the budget at each stage to ensure that web projects work… and websites work hard for the companies they promote online.
Otherwise the internet will be littered with abandoned, unloved and totally unfound ‘white elephants’ and small businesses, the world over, will be a bit poorer and a lot more disillusioned.
So come on, see the bigger picture and budget for all three stages!
Are you a business owner who has commissioned a website and spent ALL your budget on design and build? How can you promote your website?
Are you a web designer, developer or SEO specialist who is struggling to get the message through the clients about the need to plan and budget for ALL stage?
We’d love to hear from you so drop us a line.