Terry Seabrook’s real estate Website needed a facelift. The original design had served The Space Co. well, but the old site (www.The SpaceCompany.com/before) was basically an electronic brochure, which generated very little business. It was time for a change.
Getting much-needed help from Internet business strategists at GeoTarget Search (www.GeoTargetSearch.com), Seabrook’s Website has a brand new look (www.TheSpaceCompany.com) and business goal — to pull in more customer leads and increase profits 20% by the end of 2007.
“It has certainly been a [learning experience],” says Seabrook. “I never realized how many ways a Website could serve my business. Now, it’s generating leads and helping build customer relationships in ways I never thought possible.”
Like Seabrook, many entrepreneurs are frustrated by nice-looking Websites that don’t bring in new customers. Would you hire an employee to stand around and look good? If you create a Website without specific goals in mind, that’s exactly what you’ve done. By establishing a purpose and designing your site with specific goals in mind, you can put your Website to work for you.
What does this mean for you? “Businesses that aren’t found online will simply start to become invisible to a large number of Internet users,” says Greg Sterling of Sterling Market Intelligence.
Start localizing your Website by adding location information (address, city, state, zip code) to the footer of every Web page. Also, register your business with local search engines while it’s still free. The top three are:
Google Local Business Center (www.google.com/local/add), Yahoo! Local Listings (http://listings.local.yahoo.com), and MSN Local (http://local.msn.com and http://local.live.com)
Finally, there’s mobile local search (Mo-Lo), a potentially huge market with more than 1.5 billion wireless devices around the globe. The technology has a long way to go, but it is coming. Get your site ready now.
1. Generate sales leads. For most businesses, the primary goal of a Website should be to generate sales leads. Potential customers usually won’t buy on the first visit, but if you offer a free report or sample in exchange for their contact information, you can follow up indefinitely.
Use pay-per-click advertising by Google Adwords (www.adwords.google.com), Yahoo Search (http://search. yahoo.com) and MSN Advertising (http://advertising. msn.com) to promote your business online and attract visitors.
Pay-per-call, another form of paid search that triggers a phone call to your business, allows you to sell to online customers without having a Web presence. Some Pay-Per-Call vendors include AOL (http://search.aol.com), Verizon SuperPages (https://my.superpages.com/spweb/ products/pay-for-call), and Miva (www.miva.com/us/ content/advertiser/paypercall.asp).
Use an online newsletter service, such as Aweber Communications (www.aweber.com), to collect contact information, and then stay in touch via e-mail and postal mail. There’s also an online system that allows you to send a printed greeting card with just a few clicks of the mouse (www.SendMyReferralCards.com).
2. Build relationships. Effective Websites encourage a continuous two-way flow of information with visitors. This is a long-term business development strategy that will reap tremendous benefits for your business.
Use e-mail and interactive tools such as surveys and polls to find out visitors’ burning issues and questions. Use blogs to further the dialogue with visitors in an informal way