Is Your Web Site Carrying its Weight?

by WOHe

Have you ever heard of Coca-Cola, aka Coke? Of course you have
the soft drink is recognized worldwide! Can you imagine the senior
management at Coke walking in one day and saying “Hey, you know,
we’ve done such a great job of promoting ourselves over the past
years, we’re just going to not advertise this year”? I think we’d
both agree that the chances of that happening are slim.

In good economies and in bad, whether you’re a small company or
a large one, promoting yourself is a major part of your commitment
to your business. Your Web site is part of that
commitment.’

Is your firm’s Web site carrying its weight and really working
for your company? Whether you’re the company owner or an employee,
an effective Web site directly impacts your salary. Let’s explore
how to determine whether your site is effective and how this
directly impacts your bottom line.

Tracking’
Let’s say the guy who sells newspaper advertising came in to sell
you ad space. He tells you he can’t be sure whether the ad will be
placed in the sports section or the home section, he has no idea
how many people read the paper and oh, by the way, he has no idea
what city the newspaper is circulated in. Somehow, I just don’t see
your company spending thousands of dollars from your valuable
advertising budget with this guy.

A Web site that doesn’t have “tracking” is the same thing.
Tracking is software that tells you how many people visit your Web
site, what pages from your site they like the most and how long
they spend at your site. Some people like to add “counters” to the
home page of their site to announce the number of users on that
site (or page) to all who visit. Unfortunately, that information is
almost completely useless. You don’t know how long they spent on
your site, what information they retrieved or even if they took the
time to look at any of your photos. Counters just don’t measure
what’s important.’

You should know that one hit on your site does not equal one
visitor. A hit is equal to a graphic. For example, if I used 50
graphics to build the home page of your Web site, a visitor to your
site will have created 50 hits. In addition to the graphics, you
count one hit for each page. So the total number of hits for that
one visitor is 51! And that’s only after one page of your Web site
has been visited.

Having a Web site and not having tracking to determine whether
or not your site is truly being seen can spell thousands of wasted
advertising dollars.’

The Web site
There are simple ways to generate showroom traffic (not tire
kickers) from your Web site. Key starting points include making
yourself easy to contact, and positioning your company as the
area’s kitchen/bath design expert. To make contacting you simple,
add your e-mail and phone number in a prominent location on your
site. Position yourself as the area’s design expert via the site’s
verbiage and the inclusion of past accomplishments.’

Next, you need to stimulate response and generate interaction. A
great way to do this is to have forms for potential clients to fill
in and then bring or send in to you. Why not keep potential clients
at your site and build their confidence in your company as they
answer a questionnaire that asks design provoking questions such
as: Do you want your kitchen table in the kitchen area or outside
of it? Is moving plumbing an option?

Encourage potential clients to begin to commit to your company
online by adding a questionnaire that asks when they will be ready
to remodel, if they’ve determined a budget and what a good time a
day to contact them is.

Stimulating response can also be done by a positive reaction to
your Web site. The Web goes through “generations.” A site that was
designed just a couple of years ago may have an old look to it now.
Keep your site fresh! Stimulate positive response through beautiful
design photographs and an overall design reflective of the high
standards of your company. This is a good example of where tracking
works. You can use the tracking software to determine which
photographs are being visited the most often on your
site.’

Remember, a Web site not stimulating a positive response due to
an outdated look or outdated pictures could easily result in a
negative response to your company, instead of the positive reaction
you believe you’re paying for.

Offline strategies
You can also incorporate
your Web site into your offline business strategy. For instance,
when people call for directions, do you suggest that the potential
client prints out the map from your Web site? Is everyone in your
company aware of what is actually on your site? Does everyone know
your Web site address?

Using your site offline saves employees time. Instead of
employees repeatedly taking their precious design time to give
directions via phone, potential clients will just be able to print
out the map to your showroom from your Web site. This also makes
your company look cutting edge and well organized.

Is your site easily found on search engines? Having a Web site
designed and then not placing it on search engines is like
designing a high-end showroom but never unlocking the doors and
letting people in. Unfortunately, if your site is not engineered
correctly behind the scenes, it will not be picked up well by
search engines.’

It can take up to six months for your site to be picked up, but
after that time, if your site is built correctly from a technical
standpoint, it should be on search engines. If you’re not sure if
your site has been placed on search engines, call your Web site
design firm and ask! Sites should be checked for with search
engines a couple of times per year, as for some reason, sites can
“fall off” of search engines.

Karla Krengel is v.p. of sales and marketing for Kitchens.com, a
Web site design firm for the kitchen & bath industry. In
addition, she teaches KARLA’S WEB: An Internet Workshop exclusively
for NBKA’s chapters, writes “Internet Quick Tips” for the NBKA
Today newsletter, and wrote a rep Internet training pamphlet for
Maytag Appliances.

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