It is a statement of the blindingly obvious that E-marketing – the conduct of selling directly or indirectly via the internet, is replacing/has replaced traditional methods of marketing in most areas of commercial activity. In traditional retail markets we see businesses most vulnerable to the internet disappear – e.g. camera’s, CD/DVD’s, white goods, TV, hifi etc. And in traditional trade areas such as home repairs, plumbing, electicals, Pand D etc. the route to market is increasingly the internet high-street.
Another statement of the blindingly obvious – the internet shop window is the website; every business that transacts via the internet does so from a website. Usually the first or second thing on a business start-up to-do list is to commission a website and at jc peters we undertake hundreds of commissions for micro, small, medium enterprises (MSME’s) in their start-up monthly. And it is for this reason, web design is a burgeoning business sector, that you will find many thousands of responses to a Google of the keywords website design UK etc.
At jc peters group a comprehensive E-marketing portfolio service is offered, including of course the market leading email marketing cloud software – Email Blaster, as well as website creation and hosting. We have many years’ experience in the breadth of E-marketing and we always ask at the start of a website commission – what do you want the website for. A question, it has to be said, that is usually met with bemusement or puzzlement. The point we are making, we politely go on to explain, is that yes, the website is your shop, but it can serve many different purposes – either separately or all at the same time and any good website design house will want to know what the site is required to do before even quoting, let alone creating.
Let me explain by example;
1. Advertising sites.
A site that is used to promote interest in the business and its product or service. Assuming people will be attracted to visit the site (and that’s another story – see below) an advertising site is specifically set out to attract visitors into its contents, to promote the product or service and to encourage visitors to phone, email or fill out an on-line enquiry form. It is usually not designed to provide specific product detail or pricings – it is specifically there to get the phone ringing. An advertising site is typically wanted by service providers who are looking to obtain contacts – home services, plumbers, electricians up to the larger players such as double glazing, central heating etc.
Such a site will be big on promotion, selling the company, testimonials and feedback pages, examples and case histories, about us, quality accreditations etc. Effectively such a site replaces or reinforces print or TV/radio advertising.
Examples of advertising sites are window and door replacement, email marketing services (Email Blaster is a good example)
2. Commercial transaction sites.
These sites are designed to provide a selling function. Obvious examples of transaction sites are on-line product sales of which there are thousands of examples. I suppose the best example of a transaction site is Amazon. Such a site will have product listings, a good site search engine, order and payment functions etc. Promotional content is limited since visitors are specifically looking to buy, they are not (usually) looking to learn about the company.
3. Catalogue sites.
Such a site is designed to replace or reinforce the traditional product catalogue. It will contain loads of product detail, case studies to provide product guidance and again a good search engine. Being very similar to the transaction site above, the difference is that selling via the site is not its main function. Increasingly catalogue sites are melding into transaction sites – why not sell via the site when all the product detail is on-line and it is now unusual to be commissioned to produce a catalogue site only.
4. Company Profile sites.
A profile site is designed to provide detail about the company such as addresses, organisation, recruitment, competences, governance structure etc. Many large industrials and, of course utilities, spend fortunes on producing sites that are there to provide a profile of the company. Not to advertise, not to sell or provide product detail.
5. Search Engine Optimisation.
The most important attribute of an advertising or a transaction site is the number of hits (visitors) achieved and this is all about ensuring that a key-phrase search brings your site up on page 1 or 2. Below that and you’re really wasting your time. How do you achieve this – you spend large sums promoting the site using sophisticated Search Engine Optimisation services. If anyone knows how to get a good SE ranking cheaply, please let me know.
Of course, if your site is a catalogue or a profile site, then you’re probably not too bothered about its Google ranking; it’s not there to promote sales, merely to provide information for those who already know who you are.
So what makes the perfect website?
- First – it must meet the specific requirements as set out above. Quite often the requirement is ‘all the above’ in which case, the site should be measured against each category separately: does it advertise the organisation effectively – good graphics, layouts, logo, wording etc, does it allow users to navigate and operate interactive services easily?
- Second – for a transaction or catalogue site does it have a good search engine and content management (CMS), is transaction management (CC or debit card service etc) user friendly?
- Third – does it load quickly and cleanly? This is driven by coding efficiency, particularly relevant to sites using a lot of animation.
So in summary, a perfect website is one that does exactly what you had set out to achieve and this means that you must have decided beforehand what your specific objectives are. Measure any proposal from a site designer against your requirement list. But, getting hits on site is the golden bullet and this means Google ranking. And this means getting into the dark arts of SEO.
At Email Blaster UK