By adjusting your approach just a little, you can capitalize on the current Internet atmosphere to make your Web site more effective.
In a previous post, we explored what the Web 2.0 movement is. That’s great and all, but let’s get realistic. In our local Kitchener-Waterloo area, for the most part, business may be done the way it has been for years. You may have a physical location, an actual product, and so on. So what good is Web 2.0 to you? Try these five practical ideas and see just how successful you can be.
1. Give something relevant away for free.
The public now expects to receive some information, service or advice for free. You can see this trend even in printed marketing whereby of late companies are publishing ‘lifestyle guides’ which provide topical instruction or tips to their intended demographic while featuring the company’s products. So on your Web site, offer related free services and downloads. Also use your Web site to openly publish no-cost information that is pertinent to your user group and applicable to your products and services. By doing so, you can increase your site’s relevance in search engines and earn the trust and gratitude of consumers.
2. Encourage participation.
Make it possible for the public to generate some of the content on your site. How? Offer some means by which your site’s users can comment on what they’ve read on your site or ask questions in a public manner. Adding a blog section to your Web site is a great place to get the ball rolling. You may also find it beneficial to create areas of your site where post-purchase customers can upload photos of and discuss the products they’ve purchased from you and share experiences they’ve had with your company. On a larger scale, you may eventually consider starting a related self-sustaining online community, perhaps using an online forum if your business or product type is conducive to such.
3. Use social decision to promote your business.
This is simple. People are more likely to do things as a group. We tend to be cautious and like to know someone else has tried it out before we will. So, with permission, you might publish personal experiences or photographs of your customers enjoying your products. If you or your employees use your products at home or in your office, photograph and explain the method and benefits of this in real life. For example, if you are in the automotive business and you’re taking a road trip this summer, take pictures of you and your family enjoying your vehicle, point out the features that are most valuable to you, and so on.
4. Participate in related communities.
You may also like to use other topically or demographically related online communities or blogs to promote your company or Web site. How can this be accomplished? Get out there yourself. Participate. Comment on blogs related to your industry or offer no-obligation assistance to people searching for information, being sure to mention your company and domain name. Some businesses employ individuals solely for this promotional purpose. In the industry, this is called ‘Community Evangelism’. While that is a little much for any of us, the point is still true; you can make Web 2.0 work in your favour. Of course, caution must be exercised here so that you ensure your participation is relevant, credible and truly beneficial, rather than a relentless advertisement for yourself. Being a ‘comment spammer’ is a good way to get kicked out of an online community and end up doing more harm than good.
5. Strive for natural customer retention.
With all this openness, some businesses find it difficult to bury the urge to use their Web site to harvest information from customers and fanatically follow up. Conversely, others think that success is defined only by the number of visitors your site gets. Of course, it’s really about gaining genuine customers and increasing sales. And by thinking Web 2.0 – offering high-quality, unique content freely and openly – you can create natural consumer retention. Here’s how it works.
By offering free, no-obligation information or assistance, potential customers become accustomed to regularly visiting your site voluntarily. In doing so, they allow themselves to be well exposed to your company name, brands, and way of doing business. A steady, positive impression makes you a natural choice when it’s time to make a purchase. What tools can you use to facilitate this? Regularly write tips or editorial-style articles and publish these on your site for free. Focus on information that has practical value or offers a unique point of view. Blogs or news feeds using RSS are a great way to allow users to subscribe to receive your content anonymously, making this no-obligation method appealing. Also, try requiring less personal information in your online forms (such as the contact form) and in general, promote a more open and personable atmosphere on your site.
Can you see how it would be practical and profitable to implement even one of these ideas in your business? Let us help your business become better oriented toward the current Web 2.0 atmosphere.