Marketing Online Viewed as Key to Business Success, Consultant Says
What's the best way to reach customers 24 hours a day? Well, online of course. But, did you know that, each day, the speed of online knowledge is rapidly increasing, and combined with more savvy customers, designers who stand pat with their online marketing strategies risk the chance of being left in the World Wide Dust? These are the sentiments of Debbie Allen, of Tempe, AZ-based Allen & Associates Consulting, Inc., who spoke on the topic at this year's Kitchen/Bath Industry Show in Chicago.
According to Allen, offering a user-friendly Web site that combines valuable information with a professional image will not only benefit customers, but also give your company an advantage over the competition. Specifically, she notes that a dynamic Web site is a strong way to gain leads inexpensively, increase credibility, shorten sales cycles, improve customer service and save money communicating.
But, she also notes that today's kitchen and bath customer is much more savvy and is looking for ways to save his or her time. Further, consumers want to be educated online, and designers should be aware of the different ways that people communicate.
So, how do you do this with a Web site? Allen outlined the seven steps to creating an effective Web site:
- Register domains (Web address): Multiple domain names with
keywords can be pointed to an existing site for added exposure.
Certain Web sites, such as www.NameBoy.com, which allows you to
check domain names because it features a list of available options
and ideas for names, and www.PlanetNet.com, which sells domain
names, hosts Web sites and sells secured servers and shopping
carts, are two good ways to get started, Allen notes.
- Consider the concept: Determine your overall image and what
your site should offer, such as special services, featured
products, special offers, etc. Have a clear purpose and cater to
your core customer base.
- Storyboard ideas: Create a storyboard and put your ideas in
order. Add features and designs such as photos, graphics, sound,
etc. Maintain consistency in color scheme, font styles and sizes,
- Design with a Webmaster: To make your Web site successful, you
must be active in creating it. Spell out your features and benefits
along with your product and service information in detailed text
for your Webmaster.
- Rich and valued content: Provide information-rich content that
will increase the chance of keeping viewers on your site longer and
entice them to return. Ask customers how you can serve them online.
Discover what they expect from your site, what they need and what
additional information you will want to include. Feature strong
headlines and keep your site updated continually.
- Good navigation: Make your site simple to read and navigate.
Design your site on an eighth-grade reading level. The viewer's
attention span is much shorter online.
- Update and improve constantly: Never stop adding to and
improving your Web site. It is now an important extension to your
business plan. Take it step by step and continue to be a life-long
learner of this marketing opportunity.
Allen also stated that Web sites should adhere to the "Three Clicks Rule," which enables visitors to find whatever they are looking for within three clicks. Most importantly, she concludes, when building a Web site, your online visitor must be able to concentrate on your text if you want to get them to "bite." The best way to do this, she adds, is to maintain clean pages that are well organized.