Web sites can be a key marketing tool for almost every type of business. But too many companies have lost sight of the fundamental marketing mission Web sites serve, replacing message and branding with bells and whistles, according to Allan Gorman, author of the new book, Briefs for Building Better Brands.
Gorman offers tips for companies to achieve maximum marketing value from their Web sites:
• First (page) impressions matter most. Branding begins before the first page of your site loads. Does a visitor have to wait too long for your flash animations to load? Are the clips useful for telling your story? Is the first page designed to load efficiently for all connection speeds?
• Ease of use equates to a pleasant visiting experience… and better marketing. Does your site use all the trendiest fashion, styles and Web tools at the expense of legibility and clarity? Or is it pleasant to look at, easy to understand and easy to navigate?
• Give people a reason to return. Create relevant, interesting and involving self-assessments, puzzles, surveys or tests that will make visitors’ experience educational and interactive, and that relate to your products and/or services.
• Provide essential information for your customer. Regardless of the type of business, every site should include: a clear explanation of its product or service, highlights that make it unique, success stories/case studies, endorsements, and contact/order information.
• Pretend you’re giving a Web site visitor a tour of your office or plant to impress them. What do you think they’d want to see or know? In what order does it best make sense to present this information? How can you keep them interested and make it fun?
“The power of the Web as a psychologically powerful influencer is often overlooked by businesses,” adds Gorman. “A company Web site should be consistent with all marketing materials, and focus on introducing, supporting and building loyalty for your brand.”