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Internet Marketing: Your Website is Your Online Storefront

September 18th, 2013

A website is one of your most important Internet marketing assets and the first impression consumers have of your business. With 97% of consumers researching local businesses online before making a purchase1, it is vital that your website presents your business as a credible establishment.


Who is managing your online presence?

A decade ago, just having a website put your business ahead regardless of how amateur it was. Today consumer expectations are much higher, and publishing a website is more complex. Like it or not your business is being judged by the quality of your site.

Consider the following:

You walk into two different business establishments with similar product that is priced competitively.

The first establishment has an easily identifiable business name and sign. When you enter, product is organized and neatly presented on shelves and racks. Wall and store fixture colors are coordinated, warm and inviting. There are signs posted with the businesses’ return policy and which credit cards are accepted.

The second establishment has a sign, but the business name is too small to read. You wonder, “Am I at the correct address?” When you enter, product is scattered, and you sense chaos. The wall and store fixture colors clash. You become uncomfortable. You question, “Do I trust this business with my credit card?” and “Will they give me a refund if I return the merchandise?”.

Which one of these establishments are you more likely to do business with?

Your website is your online storefront. It should be carefully planned, neatly organized with warm and inviting colors and optimized graphics.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when redesigning or publishing your website for the first time:

  1. Establish online objectives and achieve these by implementing your site in stages, using proper applications that will meet both your short- and long-term goals.
  2. Use simple navigation, an appealing color scheme, legible & appropriate fonts and legally obtained images that are optimized for the web. Adhering to these basic features will create instant credibility.
  3. You have 10 seconds or less to convince a prospective customer to stay on your site. Engage website visitors with a highly focused message and call-to-action. This will not only encourage people to explore your site, but it will reduce your bounce rate as well.
  4. People coming to your site may choose to visit on a desktop computer, tablet or smart phone device. Design your website for the optimum user-experience no matter what device they use.
  5. The Internet is a playground for hackers. Provide a secure website where prospects and customers feel safe. Install security measures for website structures that are prone to attack.
  6. Combine your conventional and online advertising efforts to form an integrated marketing approach. Use analytics to measure where you’re having success so that you can strategically focus your advertising in areas where return is greatest.
  7. Optimize your website for search engines. Use targeted keywords in your domain name, headlines, alt tags and body copy. Develop rich content that is relevant to your business. Publish new content on a consistent and on-going basis.
  8. Build your website with the most current HTML and CSS code. Use CSS code for both styles and structure. Stay clear of outdated or deprecated code and nested tables. These best practices will speed up your site and keep your content to code ratio low.
  9. Don’t annoy your website visitors with broken links, images that won’t load or load slowly, typos and buttons that don’t work. Frustrated visitors are unlikely to return to your website and are even less likely to visit your establishment.
  10. Stay away from Flash for special effects. Use the latest HTML or jQuery instead if you want to add animation to your site.

 

Creating a professional website for your business requires diverse skills that combine marketing, user interface design and web development.

For more information about website design and development and Internet marketing visit our website.

 
1 According to a recent study conducted by research group BIA/Kelsey



Written by: Carol Palichleb

President and Chief Information Officer,
Palicor Communications



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