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50 Ways To Use Your Website

Aug 8, 2008
A website is an investment. After all, you are building a shopfront. In a nutshell, you can use your website to:

Enhance your professional image

1 - Look professional and as BIG as large corporations.

2 - Pre-sell yourself to new clients even before you meet them.

3 - Supply a meaningful and intuitive address related to your type of service. It is easier to remember www.websitename.com rather than a long ISP email address such as 'www.yourInternetServiceProvidername.com/~websitename'.

4 - Provide a permanent address with up-to-date contact details and opening hours. You can change Internet Service Provider or move physical premises and your customers will always find you and your marketing efforts are not lost.

Boost confidence in your business

5 - Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise with tips, articles and editorials.

6 - Build your credibility by displaying awards and providing testimonials.

7 - Encourage potential clients. A free web hosting address can look dubious and show less commitment to your business.

8 - Give staff details to humanise your business, to show that you are 'real' people.

9 - Provide background information on your business.

Provide current and useful information

10 - Publish a catalogue or portfolio of your products and services.

11 - Inform your visitors about the benefits and applications of your products.

12 - Categorise information according to target audiences. For example, discuss benefits of a dishwasher to potential buyers and give installation instructions to installers.

13 - Arrange table of comparisons of product specifications and prices to help your client's decision making.

14 - Publish a newsletter.

15 - List upcoming products, services, events.

Increase sales

16 - Sell directly to customers without middlemen.

17 - Take orders when clients are ready.

18 - Generate extra income with affiliate programs and sponsorships.

19 - Sell advertising space e.g. banners.

20 - Provide enrolment forms and applications for membership.

Save on operational costs

21 - Open your shopfront extended hours - 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - at no extra cost.

22 - Produce high-impact online coloured brochures that would be too expensive to print.

23 - Save printing and mailing costs on newsletters, brochures and reports.

24 - Update information regularly without incurring printing costs.

25 - Save time on phone calls by providing answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ).

26 - Advertise your job vacancies.

27 - Shorten your sales cycle by streamlining your operations.

Expand your client base

28 - Expand your reach to new global markets.

29 - Collect names and addresses using viral marketing e.g. 'Tell a friend'.

30 - Send special reports to visitors who provide you with their contact details.

31 - Link with suppliers, clients or complementary businesses to attract more traffic to your website.

32 - Increase client base with special offers and newsletter subscriptions.

Implement promotional activities

33 - Link offline and online advertising and promotion to feed on each other.

34 - Use email marketing and save on direct mailing costs.

35 - Experiment with new promotional ideas and measure their effectiveness.

36 - Create loyalty programs for repeat clients e.g. vouchers, special offers.

Create a favourable public image

37 - Provide a list of links to promote your partners and associations.

38 - Promote your community spirit and involvement.

39 - Publicise your environmentally friendly practices.

40 - Provide a press media kit.

Improve your level of customer service

41 - Display your policies and warranties.

42 - Maintain visibility with regular email invitations to view new online information or promotion.

43 - Provide a user guide with a trouble-shooting section.

44 - Allow your customers to view and change their account details and pay invoices.

45 - Improve your after-sales service with follow ups and feedback forms.

46 - Archive information. You can make available past issues of newsletters and user guides of dated products.

Obtain information for market research

47 - Collect information from visitors (e.g. age group, preferences).

48 - Gather information from suggestion forms to develop new products or improve existing ones.

49 - Test and evaluate new products without spending big dollars.

50 - Use surveys to obtain primary data for researches and reports.

Extra Tips

Use multiple domain (or subdomain) names to differentiate products and services, measure promotion effectiveness and attract more traffic to your website. For example, www.product1.com, www.product2.com and www.service1.com could all point towards the same website.
About the Author
Henriette Martel is a website strategist, author of 200 Marketing Ideas for Your Website and director of the Australian Training Guide, Australia's A to Z Training Database and Resources for Speakers, Trainers & Coaches.
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