By Lorrie Thomas Ross
Jan. 17, 2012
Today’s Web marketing world is like the wild, wild West. Any organization large or small has the ability to stake their claim and build a future. The elitism of marketing is gone and the possibilities are endless for anyone willing to venture into the uncharted territory. There are endless technological platforms, countless social media tools and tons of low-cost and no cost ideas. While the wild, wild Web is exciting; the vast open landscape can also feel overwhelming. Executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders may not know where to start. Any journey begins with a map and directions. Start by understanding the five success steps to Web marketing. You want all areas optimized to brand, build and boost business.
To secure new and additional business, businesses have to be known, liked and trusted. Credibility is the first marketing success puzzle piece. Stanford University did a Web Credibility Guidelines research project to identify the top areas that make a company evoke credibility to users. Their findings include simple, but often overlooked steps like showing that there’s a real organization behind your site. This can be as simple as rewriting your about page website copy to show the legitimacy of your organization, your values and credentials. Other Web credibility boosters are making your phone number visible on every page of your site in the footer. The more accessible your organization is, the more trusted a Web visitor feels. Credibility also includes design. Web visitors do judge a business by its Web cover. Design needs to be on brand and on purpose. Sites need to serve and support, not overtly sell to be credible and approachable. Don’t think of design as something you spend on. Design is an investment. Credibility pays back again and again to support your brand and business.
While it is great to get people TO a site; usability is what gets people THROUGH a site. Web users needs to be guided to take action with “call to actions” visual and textual guides that help lead a user into various pages. These days, the most valuable real estate you have as marketers is the square space of real estate on your screen or on a mobile device. Smart user experience immediately tells a Web user who you are, what you do and whom you serve. Look at your home page. Are who you are, what you do and whom you serve clear? This can be communicated easily by bulleting out your services so they are quickly scannable, having dedicated sections to help users navigate to where they need to go. Contact information and simple guides like “Learn More” next to text can prompt action. Think of usability as an invitation. People need to be invited to take action. Invite them to contact you. Usability applies to Web sites, mobile sites, email newsletters and blogs. Make sure that you are using Web tools in a way that is on brand, and on “purpose” meaning the layout is focused on getting people to see and go where you want and need them to go.