Have you ever heard of Coca-Cola, aka Coke? Of course you have the soft drink is recognized worldwide! Can you imagine the senior management at Coke walking in one day and saying "Hey, you know, we've done such a great job of promoting ourselves over the past years, we're just going to not advertise this year"? I think we'd both agree that the chances of that happening are slim.
In good economies and in bad, whether you're a small company or a large one, promoting yourself is a major part of your commitment to your business. Your Web site is part of that commitment.'
Is your firm's Web site carrying its weight and really working for your company? Whether you're the company owner or an employee, an effective Web site directly impacts your salary. Let's explore how to determine whether your site is effective and how this directly impacts your bottom line.
Let's say the guy who sells newspaper advertising came in to sell you ad space. He tells you he can't be sure whether the ad will be placed in the sports section or the home section, he has no idea how many people read the paper and oh, by the way, he has no idea what city the newspaper is circulated in. Somehow, I just don't see your company spending thousands of dollars from your valuable advertising budget with this guy.
A Web site that doesn't have "tracking" is the same thing. Tracking is software that tells you how many people visit your Web site, what pages from your site they like the most and how long they spend at your site. Some people like to add "counters" to the home page of their site to announce the number of users on that site (or page) to all who visit. Unfortunately, that information is almost completely useless. You don't know how long they spent on your site, what information they retrieved or even if they took the time to look at any of your photos. Counters just don't measure what's important.'
You should know that one hit on your site does not equal one visitor. A hit is equal to a graphic. For example, if I used 50 graphics to build the home page of your Web site, a visitor to your site will have created 50 hits. In addition to the graphics, you count one hit for each page. So the total number of hits for that one visitor is 51! And that's only after one page of your Web site has been visited.
Having a Web site and not having tracking to determine whether
or not your site is truly being seen can spell thousands of wasted
The Web site
There are simple ways to generate showroom traffic (not tire kickers) from your Web site. Key starting points include making yourself easy to contact, and positioning your company as the area's kitchen/bath design expert. To make contacting you simple, add your e-mail and phone number in a prominent location on your site. Position yourself as the area's design expert via the site's verbiage and the inclusion of past accomplishments.'
Next, you need to stimulate response and generate interaction. A great way to do this is to have forms for potential clients to fill in and then bring or send in to you. Why not keep potential clients at your site and build their confidence in your company as they answer a questionnaire that asks design provoking questions such as: Do you want your kitchen table in the kitchen area or outside of it? Is moving plumbing an option?
Encourage potential clients to begin to commit to your company online by adding a questionnaire that asks when they will be ready to remodel, if they've determined a budget and what a good time a day to contact them is.
Stimulating response can also be done by a positive reaction to your Web site. The Web goes through "generations." A site that was designed just a couple of years ago may have an old look to it now. Keep your site fresh! Stimulate positive response through beautiful design photographs and an overall design reflective of the high standards of your company. This is a good example of where tracking works. You can use the tracking software to determine which photographs are being visited the most often on your site.'
Remember, a Web site not stimulating a positive response due to
an outdated look or outdated pictures could easily result in a
negative response to your company, instead of the positive reaction
you believe you're paying for.
You can also incorporate your Web site into your offline business strategy. For instance, when people call for directions, do you suggest that the potential client prints out the map from your Web site? Is everyone in your company aware of what is actually on your site? Does everyone know your Web site address?
Using your site offline saves employees time. Instead of employees repeatedly taking their precious design time to give directions via phone, potential clients will just be able to print out the map to your showroom from your Web site. This also makes your company look cutting edge and well organized.
Is your site easily found on search engines? Having a Web site designed and then not placing it on search engines is like designing a high-end showroom but never unlocking the doors and letting people in. Unfortunately, if your site is not engineered correctly behind the scenes, it will not be picked up well by search engines.'
It can take up to six months for your site to be picked up, but after that time, if your site is built correctly from a technical standpoint, it should be on search engines. If you're not sure if your site has been placed on search engines, call your Web site design firm and ask! Sites should be checked for with search engines a couple of times per year, as for some reason, sites can "fall off" of search engines.
Karla Krengel is v.p. of sales and marketing for Kitchens.com, a Web site design firm for the kitchen & bath industry. In addition, she teaches KARLA'S WEB: An Internet Workshop exclusively for NBKA's chapters, writes "Internet Quick Tips" for the NBKA Today newsletter, and wrote a rep Internet training pamphlet for Maytag Appliances.