The CEO of my company once said to me, “A good website is worth ten sales guys.” The surprising part of this assertion is that our CEO is a die-hard sales guy, and has been for many years, and to him, a great sales team – that is, people on the phone and in meetings with potential customers – is his number one priority.
But he does have a point. In the online world, your website is your number one sales and marketing tool, and the way you present it to the public can determine your company’s immediate and long-term future in the marketplace.
It is important to consider this as so many of you are veering in a “marketing with social media” direction, which, though still in its infancy, is proving to provide fantastic results with minimal spend, something that is extremely attractive in the current economy. However, with this migration to social networks, blogging/microblogging, and viral media, a website is often left dusty and neglected in the background. This is one of the worst things to happen, because, like it or not, in the online world your website will always be perceived as the number one face of your company. Plus, any good online marketing campaign has a corporate website as its centerpiece.
So what role is your website playing now? Is it merely a brochure, a high-level glimpse into what your company does, or is it an evolving, informative, and interactive sales machine?
If your answer is the former, but you realize the importance of making your website become the latter, do consider the following points in your mission.
Optimize, Optimize, Optimize
On the very basic level, ensure that your website is optimized for search engines. If you’ve not done this before, there are plenty of great resources out there that cover the importance of crisp title tags, keyword-rich meta descriptions, effective link-building techniques, and meaty content. And if you have done this before, remember that things get outdated very quickly on the ‘Net, so it might be a good time for you to do a thorough sweep of your site to ensure that everything is nicely aligned in true SEO fashion.
Exploit the Customizability of Your Corporate Site
By having a presence on MySpace, Facebook, or Twitter, for example, you can easily market to your ‘friends’ or ‘followers,’ but think about how those profile pages are laid out. You can’t create a realistically usable support forum for your customers. You can’t create registration forms for potential customers to fill out in order to join your mailing list. Sure, you can add your press releases, announcements, blog articles, and so on, but you have little to no say over how they look and feel. Take advantage of the fact that your website – the central hub of your entire online existence – can be changed to look exactly as you want it to look, feel exactly as you want it to feel, and portray your message exactly as it is intended.
Manage the Whole Sales Cycle in One Place
Your web site should not be an outward-looking glorified advertisement for your company. As with all methods by which people build communities with social media, your web site needs to
contain information for both potential and existing clients
allow for discussion about your product or service, whether in a forum or a blog setting
have enough dynamic content to bring visitors back to your site, or at least have them voluntarily subscribe to your RSS feeds or email list for update notifications
be interactive enough, whether with forms so that potential and existing customers have easy, straightforward methods for getting in touch with you
Bring the basic theories of social media into your web site and use these as your foundation. From here, your site can be a one-stop-shop for the community that your efforts are constantly building. Through the use of these methods, and by working on your web site as much as you work on your other social media outlets, you can turn your corporate website into a smooth, customer-attaining machine.