In a past life I used to develop websites and I would tell my clients, if you're not on the web then you don't exist. And the only thing worse than having no website is having a bad website. I think these days it's an easy sell convincing business owners that they need to be on the web. The internet is becoming the focal point of our lives. Even your biggest brick-and-mortar stores are downsizing their physical locations and putting more energy into their online retail options. Mobile buying and increased options for same-day or next day delivery makes the incentives for online purchasing greater than ever. Will physical stores disappear? Unlikely. But if your business plans don't include some facet of the web don't expect to be as successful as your competitors. Or worse yet, you could find yourself out of business.
This doesn't just impact businesses looking to sell their wares online. Your customers' first interaction with you these days is likely to be through the internet. And if they can't find you they will likely find your competitors. Through the web you can create more than a place to find your prices and store hours. You can create an entire marketing, sales, service, and community around your business.
If you are looking to succeed in this world you need to succeed on the world-wide-web. Below are a few ways to leverage all that the web has to offer
First and foremost, you need a website, that much is obvious. But its worth noting that this is often your customer's first interaction with you and your brand. The more positive the first impression, the better your chances are. If your site is slow or is poorly designed they will go elsewhere very quickly. Consider the user, what their needs are when coming to your site, and make sure that information is easy to find. And don't be too verbose. People these days don't want to read too much.
But they are looking for helpful content. Which is why you should own a blog. And contribute as often as possible. At least once a week. You don't have to be a great writer, just write, and make sure what you do write is of value to your potential customers. These blog posts overtime will help your Website rank higher in search results and bring more and more people to you. Think of it as advertising without the recurring cost.
Social Media is another huge part of this equation, whether you like it or not. Social Media isn't just for finding old friends. It's about building your brand, communicating with your brand zealots. It gives you the ability to respond back to those occasional bad reviews that your disgruntled patrons will inevitably voice. It's a means of communication. That's two-way communication. Don't just blast out sales pitches. Share interesting articles, start conversations on relevant topics related to your business, comment on posts. And listen to what they have to say.
It's also a means of offering support. Which brings us to our next reason you should be on the web.
Web technology provides a number of different channels to provide a helping hand to your customers in distress. A lonely support line should be a thing of the past. Especially since the largest growing demographic, Millennials, dislike using the phone (myself included). We like to do everything online. Who can blame us, with long wait times, drawn out, annoying automated menus, and an outsourced support group where English isn't their first language. It's frustrating. The web is quicker, easier, more efficient.
You can offer support in numerous ways: through social media, support ticket submission directly on your website, (also list a support line for those who still want to talk to a person), online chat, customer support communities, and an online knowledge base for self-service support. Putting your support online means you can do more with less and still offer up the same level of service (or better) than your larger competitors.
You can sell your wares through your website, that, in of itself, is a good enough reason to have a website. But you can sell your wares through numerous other eCommerce platforms. Amazon, e-bay, Etsy, the list goes on and on. Don't limit yourself to your physical store or your website. Put your offerings anywhere customers might be.
The term Social Selling has become big lately. Social Selling right now is mostly about acquiring sales leads through Social Media. Pretty soon Social Selling will literally mean selling through social media. Twitter and Facebook, along with other platforms, are starting to experiment with eCommerce integrated into their platforms.
Traditional Advertising is dead. Or Dying. Either way there is very little incentive to advertise in the more traditional formats anymore. All the eyes are on the web. So why should you spend your advertising dollars anywhere else? You can advertise everywhere, Google, Bing, Yahoo, Craigslist, Amazon, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc, etc, etc. Advertising on Google and one or two Social platforms that best match your demographic will likely get the attention of the majority of your target market. Social Media in particular gives you the uncanny ability to target your specific market. But the return isn't there yet. Which is why I recommend advertising through Google as your main advertising channel. Regardless of where on the web your advertising dollars are spent. The best part is that you can actually track its effectiveness rather than throwing a bunch of money out the door and hoping it'll make a difference.
Which brings us to our final topic.
Never has it been easier to track the efforts of your business. With relative ease you can now track how good your website is at attracting customers. How well did that recent Email newsletter do at bringing people to your site, or better yet, getting them to buy something? What's the ROI of your most recent advertising campaign? What's the impact of your social initiatives? All your efforts on the web can be measured to ensure what you're doing matters. If it doesn't you can either discern a reason why and improve or stop entirely and focus on the other things that have a proven track record.
If you're still reading this and not saying, Gee thanks John but I already knew all this. Then you might be wide eyed with ideas and possibilities, or stressing over the fact that being on the web means there is a lot of various technologies you need to keep track of an manage. And you'd be right. But what if you integrated all your different web technologies with Salesforce, and ran all your marketing initiatives with Pardot, which also integrates with Salesforce. Think of Salesforce as hub, your management tool, that collects all your data from all these different avenues and gives you the means to manage and automate a lot of what happens out there on the web giving you more time to focus on the other things that matter.
If you're interest in finding out ways to integrate your web presence with Salesforce and/or Pardot give us a shout. We'd love to see how we can help improve your reach through the web and make it easier to manage.
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