Copyright Beaver 2000/2003
Lets not forget that while visitors are great what you want is the customers business. Web sites are just another contact medium as are postal news letters, phone calls, faxes, customer visits, exhibition stands, and email. Understand what the customer wants to achieve using these existing methods - to request information, get answers to queries, place orders, follow up orders, deliver some products in file format, obtain operating advice, make service or return requests, then think how the web site could deliver the same service. You can use the web site to interact with customers in the same way as sales agents and account executives support customers, keeping them informed of new products and services, news, and up coming changes.
The web site needs to have a strategy to convert visitors to customers or at least to get visitors talking about your product or services to others generating awareness which eventually leads to business. Simple provision of information and immediately available downloadable brochures is likely to generate some business activity. The visitor gets information quickly and its a low cost channel for you rather than brochure requests and postal mailings.
Having got information from your web site they may then follow up with a call to your company and you get the business that way. Can you relate the visit to the request or sale? Ask them how did they found you when we call, as its important to track the web sites performance as well as monitoring costs and contact numbers against other marketing and pre-sales initiatives, to gauge if the web site is paying for its self. If the sale is made via the web site you can also start profiling, you'll have the customers details, and also be able to match the visit and maybe previous visits to the server logs, identifying how they came to your site. You might then be able to identify not just the biggest referring mechanism but the ones that bring business and focus on these, making them better, so translating the success ingredient to other referring channels.
Getting visitors to keep coming back regularly for information and news, may also contribute to spreading the name of the business, or acting as a teaser so they want to buy from you because they perceive the value you offer in free information. Perhaps actual customers get or those registering get access to a non-advertised site area with special facilities or information. All of these mechanisms aim to give your business a differential over your competition, you deliver faster, with better information, and become an important source of information to their business. Your products and knowledge of the business sector can help them. You start to build a relationship that ultimately increases business for both of you, with the web and ftp site becoming part of the mechanism, to make that happen.
As site maturity increases you'll be aiming to interact with visitors and customers, using the web site to get them coming back, and forming a relationship with you. The web site may support the marketing activities, you'll want to collect names and some basic information from them, so the site starts to generate leads or provides market data. This can be achieved in a number of ways but in all cases you'll need to make it worth while for the user and not put them off by requiring detailed registrations and questions before they can access parts of the site. Many people will click off before registering especially as the quality of the information post registration is unknown, other users have security and privacy concerns over making themselves known. Consider the following to get more interactive with site users;
keeping the web site topical and up to date with both company
and industry sectors news and events may tempt users to come back,
perhaps include a prompt to bookmark the page on their browser. Option
sites with high content often generate the information from a database
of text and graphics, rather than having static html pages. The database
can include a search option to find and current and past articles that
match their interest. The search key words can also tell you something
about what people are interested in.
Any collected information on where people have come from, particularly frequent visitors, and any search information or information on what they were looking at from the tracking arrangements you'll hopefully have implemented, should be analysed and followed up. Sometimes the internet address will tell you the company they were likely from, find out about the company, visit there site if they have one, and build up marketing information. Combine a user's personalisation data, such as a name and email address with personalisation functions such as a cookie, and relate this information to access statistics. You can then build up user profiles possibly relating this to web or traditional market and sales data. Remember though to determine compliance requirements under the UK's Data Protection Act. However the value of cookies and other tracking methods must be carefully considered. Many users find such actions intrusive and prompt them to click off. In other cases certain methods will not work on some systems where firewalls and privacy maintenance software has been installed. Never the less information can be high useful particularly if linked into contact management or CRM systems as discussed in the following link to our business transaction page.