The first and most important question you must answer is WHY. Why do I even need a website? What will a website gain me? What is it’s purpose. Without a clear and defined purpose your website will lack focus and it’s value will be unmeasurable. Your visitors will be confused and leave, your reputation will suffer and your brand will be diminished. Since that is the opposite of what you want, until you have a clear purpose you are better off not having anything at all.
So what kind of things might a website do? What should I expect? Is it worth the investment? These questions need to be discussed and evaluated before you make a commitment of $300.00, $3,000.00 or 3 million dollars. Only you can make the decision as to the value the website will be to you.
Lets start with what different kind of purposes a website may do for you.
Here is a short list to get the juices flowing:
- Gain a favorable impression of the company or organization.
- Develop a qualified list of prospects.
- Sell products or services directly.
- Sell advertising.
- Increase walk in traffic.
- Encourage potential customers to contact you by phone or mail to consummate a sale.
- Make available product information and price lists to distributors.
- Make available product information and price lists to customers.
- Strengthen brand identification.
- Boost your ego.
- As an outlet for your thoughts.
- Provide information about a cause.
- Generate donations to a cause.
- A news source.
- Explain how to do business with you.
- Provide a brochure of your offerings.
- Accessible 24-hours a day
- Make information available to work colleagues accessible from anywhere at any time.
- Save money – Save yourself the cost of printing a full color brochure – much more can be included on your website and it can of course be updated at any time, so saving re-printing costs.
- Save on advertising costs
- Increase credibility
- Customer Feedback
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Test Marketing
- Time Sensitive Promotions
- Find new employees, post positions available and let prospects contact you by e-mail or apply online.
Why you may not need a website.
There needs to be a reason to be online, If you want more customers but they are not looking at websites that your website will not work. As they say, “Fish Where the Fish Are”
A very small percentage of the people on the internet will actually visit your site. The good news is that you only need a small number to be successful but how do you break through the clutter and get people to your site? Or is it worth the expense in SEO/SEM, promotions, your staff time, IT resources, agencies, etc?
Can your customers find information about your products and services on other sites, many of them a gazillion times more trafficked than yours. These other websites may almost completely fulfill the functions that we listed above.
All those people who spend time on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social networks, aren’t visiting your site to find out who likes your product or to form a new community.
Even if through some miraculous combination of SEO, SEM or other serendipity, individuals who do go to your website, will probably never return. Because people more often look for information about your product elsewhere, you may want to be there too. It’s those elsewheres that might matter more than your website. That may be where your efforts need to be to get the most bang for your buck.
What, No Websites?
No, of course not. You still need a website, but let’s redefine its primary role: To be the place where you can have a private and direct conversation with your customers as needed. There are many examples of this, including definitive product information, customer support, legal issues, contact points and more.
When it’s not a one-on-one conversation, then you may need or want to direct customers back to the other distributors of your product. Don’t have distributors? That may be the best use of the web, to set up a network of distributors of your product, services or advertisements.
Before you build a new online destination, you need to build strategy around what your customer really needs and where they hang out.