The times, they are a’changin….
If you have been listening to any business news for the last, say, 10 years, you may have heard that online marketing is becoming quite the thing. In fact, you may have heard persistent rumours that people are not only looking for you online, they are shopping for products online that you offer in your store.
At this point, you might be thinking that you should jump on this particular bandwagon. Maybe you have a site, circa 2005, that you feel could use a bit of a facelift. You’d probably be right. Online marketing is a whole new ball game.
So what’s new?
The web development industry changes pretty quickly so anything new today will be old news before too long. However, there are some things that are not likely to go away anytime soon.
1. Mobile Web
Smart phones are changing the way people surf the web. People want accessible websites on every device they use, from laptop to tablet to Android, iPhone and Blackberry. If your website does not show well on every device out there, you limit the number of visitors and the number of potential customers. You need a site that fits every screen size and works in all browsers, from Internet Explorer 7 to Firefox.
Mobile devices are a major reason why websites with Flash are a thing of the past. Apple devices do not run Flash at all and are effectively killing off the technology. So back away from the Flash….slowly….slowly.
E-commerce is the industry term for online shopping. Shopping online is changing the way retailers operate, what makes retail businesses successful and the size of market a small local retailers can access. If you are in the business of selling a product, having an option to shop from your website can make a huge difference to your sales numbers.
The trick is to make sure that the e-commerce platform on your website makes it very easy for shoppers to purchase. The payment process needs to be intuitive, familiar and seamless. Your online store needs to be organized, informative and fast. Your stock inventory needs to be updated regularly. If customers are frustrated with your online store, they won’t come back for another look. They’ll look for options on your competitor’s site.
3. Search Engines Rule the World
If you read my blog on content (here if you haven’t), you’ll know that I can go on for a while about how important content is for your website. Search engines are more about ranking your site according to content than ever. Algorithms are more effective at locating what is known as Black Hat SEO and punishing websites that try to fool the ranking system.
Algorithms will continue to change to foil these Black Hat techniques. Evolutions in search engine technology mean that SEO techniques that are acceptable right now may become unacceptable in the future. Be wary of companies that offer quick search engine ranking, especially if you have an old site with little content. They might be using old techniques that could get your site blacklisted from popular search engines.
Time for a new site?
A website is not just a pretty collection of pictures and words that show up in a search engine when someone types in your name. It is a marketing tool. Just like radio, television and newspaper ads in the past, they serve a purpose: to bring you customers. If your site is not bringing you customers, it’s time for a change.
Your website is your 24/7 salesperson. It answers questions at three in the morning. It’s open and selling merchandise all day, all night and around the world. A good website allows you to communicate with your clients and get messages out quickly and efficiently.
Does your website do all that?
What else do you want your website to do for you?