5 reasons to use a marketing pro for your Web site

Small business owners often tap their children, students and friends to build Web sites. After all, it’s either free or very cheap, and helps out a relative, student starting out or  a friend. Others use a Web design shop, who’s sole business is Web design. (As opposed to marketing.)

Quite honestly, many of these folks build terrific looking Websites. But are they really saving you money? Or are they costing you “hidden”  money by lost opportunities you will never see? Chance are, with no marketing expertise in their skill set, it may be the latter.

The top five reasons a Web designer may cost you money:

  1. Great Web design. No business context.
  2. Cool design. Needs analytics and optimization.
  3. Too many clicks for customers
  4. Differs from all your other stuff
  5. No call to action

Great Web design. No business context.
If your site looks terrific, but lacks  context to your business ,  chances are it will not sell for you. A productive site will clearly communicate what you do, and show value to your customers.  Does your designer understand what business you are in, and what will appeal to your customers? If not, consider moving on – even if the initial layout costs more, it will at least work for you.

Cool design. Needs analytics and optimization.
Behind the design are dozens of support codes that make your site visible to search engines and get data on how visitors interact with your site. Does your designer do these things? Are they optimizing your content, images, and PDFs to be visible to search engines? Can you look at traffic patterns to see what pages visitors look at, how long they stay and if they forward anything to others? Building the site is the first step, but the real results come from active management of the site over time.

Too many clicks for customers.
Information is why people look at sites. What are your visitors looking for? What do  they want to know? This should dictate what goes first on your site. If the information requires hunting around and looking for what they need through click after click, most visitors simply bail to another site. Don’t you? : )

Differs from all your other stuff.
If your site looks like an Apple iPhone® site, it looks very cool indeed. It also looks like someone else’s product line, which confuses people. You want people to be very clear about who you are and what you offer, so it is critical that everything you do looks similar – like it goes together. Does your site look like it belongs to the same company as your store, sales brochure and packaging? Boring maybe. Effective, definitely.

No call to action.
Down to business: you want people to do something when they visit your site. What is it? Sign up for a newsletter? As for a quote?  Call you or email you? This is your call to action. Make it easy for your visitors to take that action. Put it right up there on every single page. On the top of the page.

Even the best Web designer may not know your full market strategy. A bang-up Web site that does not tie in with your companies message, or have the right context for your customer will cost you much more money in the long run. By including a marketing professional in the process, who sees the bigger business and sales picture,  you will have a much more effective set of tools to bring customers in.

-Published July 28th, 2009

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