Every month our company pours significant amounts into high-speed internet access for the offices. We have dozens of broadband cards deployed to technicians and sales staff. We’ve spent thousands converting our newsletters to email blasts with interactive content. We have built and hosted three websites for various aspects of the company, and we just launched a brand-new website for the security and integration portion of our business.
Our old website was built in 2002, so it lasted eight years. We’ve spent the past three planning, designing, and building the new one. Though we have our own internal marketing department, we’re smart enough to know that there are just some things we need to hire out. Building and managing our web presence is one of them.
A year ago we discovered our new marketing partner, SpinSix, and they’re taking our web presence and online marketing to a new level. After spending a lot of time capturing our goals and objectives by interviewing our department heads, we came to an agreement on how to move forward.
Capture The Brand: We know we have a strong brand, good brand recognition, and a loyal customer base. It’s the job of the website to capture and communicate our brand on every page. New visitors to the site need to be drawn in by identifying with the messages and recognizing there’s something special about this company. Existing customers need to agree that the messages are true and find value when visiting the site. The website is a 24/7 salesperson.
Interactivity Vs. Information: Information matters, but what visitors want and customers expect is interactivity. The website needs to be peppered with plenty of “calls to action.” Our number-one goal for the new site was to drive leads to our sales force. Another goal was to create an environment for our customers to do business with us through a portal to our online managed services. A new “My Account” section was the result.
Question The Bells And Whistles: Web developers have come up with lots of really cool features for websites. The problem is that the features have a way of becoming the attraction, replacing the brand message. And many flash features bog down pages, making them slow to load and hard to navigate. We added some cool functions to our site while trying really hard to avoid the fluff.
Social Networking: Many modern websites have link sections to social media like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. We added these links to our site only after we were sure we had a social networking strategy in place. Our social network is updated every day, includes branded pages, and engages our employees in the process. Our contracted social media managers, who I call the “Twitter Twins,” scour the internet for what people are saying about our company. If someone says something good or bad, they respond. So, when you click on the Facebook link on our homepage, you are connected to an extension of our brand strategy.
Three-Click Strategy: You can get to all the information in our site within just three clicks from the home page. Yes, we have a lot of pages, but you wouldn’t know it unless you spend about 30 minutes touring the site.
Objectives Over Time: Our new site was designed with “paid search” marketing in mind. Forward-looking pages (home and main sections) are heavy on graphics, allowing them to become landing pages for pay-per-click marketing. The second- and third-tier pages are more content heavy for those digging for more information. Calls to action are on every page. Our site was also designed for SEO (search engine optimization). This will take time and constant updating of the site, but our goal is to continue to improve our search engine rankings over time.
Life Cycle: Our last website was pretty static. We made changes, but not often. One of my objectives for the new site was to make it a living, breathing entity. We’re committed to keeping it fresh and growing. This is a strategy that will require time and money, but if we are really committed to driving business and building customer loyalty through our web presence, we don’t have a choice.
Mike Bradley (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president of Safeguard Security and Communications, a security and communication systems integrator in Phoenix, AZ. Bradley is a past president and director on the board of the NSCA with 25 years’ experience in sales and management in the low-voltage contracting industry.
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