I’m A Vegemite Kid

There are many ways to promote your products online, engage with your audience and collect information about them. A fantastic example is the How Do You Like Your Vegemite promotion currently being run in Australia.

Vegemite, if you don’t already know, is an Aussie institution that no one outside of Australia seems to get. It’s a concentrated yeast extract that Australians can’t get enough of. Eating it is almost a religious experience.

As we all seem to eat it differently, Kraft have run with that by creating the first ever Vegemite Census, and asking people how they eat their Vegemite. They collect profile information and offer participants the chance to subscribe to forums to discuss Vegemite.

I love it! And I am a cynical old marketer. The thing is Aussies are passionate about their Vegemite and Kraft have turned this into a great way to engage with their customers and collect data about them.

Are you doing all you can to engage with your customers? Perhaps it’s time to think outside the box and look at ways of encouraging your customers to participate in a conversation with you.

Using Content Wisely

You’ll often find web designers and search engine marketers telling you you need content on your site to help you rank highly in the search engines. Unfortunately many website owners find it hard to work out what sort of content they should add to their site – or focus too much on adding content for the search engines and not their users.

I came across a great use of content that should benefit both the search engines and visitors on Specsavers recently. Specsavers sell glasses so what better content to add to their site than a guide to frame choice. Admittedly they haven’t optimised it for the search engines (and are no doubt missing out on valuable traffic) but as far as visitors go it’s a great way to attract prospects and convert them into customers. It can also be used to get people to refer their friends to the site and encourage repeat visits.

So the next time someone suggest you add content to your site step back and think of what you can add to benefit both the search engines and your visitors.

Cut Costs with Your Website

A website doesn’t just have to earn you money it can help you save money too. It seems most people focus on getting a website to help them increase sales and money however with a little thought and planning websites can also help you make significant savings.

Reduce Phone and Reception Costs

Reducing the time your staff spend on the phone helping customers is a sure fire way to reduce expenses. Here are some of the ways you can help reduce this telephone time.

List Basic Information on Your Website

You can vastly reduce the time your employees are on the phone answering common questions by including that information on your website. Basic information such as store locations – including maps, opening hours, addresses and telephone numbers are a must.

Answer Common Questions with a FAQ

Another great tip is to create what is known online as a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page where you can provide answers to common questions your customers ask you. You can then encourage customers to visit your website for answers to these common questions. Promote this in your marketing literature, advertising material, recorded messages and by reception staff. Of course you need to emphasis that if they can’t find what they are looking for they are welcome to call you – we’re not trying to discourage contact just reduce it where we can. I’ve found that customers love this sort of information – don’t forget it saves them time and hassle as much as it saves you!

List Stock Availability Online

Don’t just display descriptive information about your stock on your website – list it’s availability as well. Even down to what location has what quantities. As well as reducing the time your staff spend on the phone looking this up you are making your customer’s lives much easier. There’s nothing worse than a customer travelling all the way to a store only to find out that the item they want is out of stock.

Include Your Prices On Your Website

This one is a pet hate of mine. If you are going to the trouble of listing all your products on your website why not include the prices? One large store chain once told me it was so their competitors couldn’t see their prices. Great – so they’re prepared to inconvenience a customer so their competitors can’t see their prices. Although those competitors could always call or visit a shop, ;-) I really don’t get this one – the beauty of the internet is you are not limited by space – show as much information as possible. It will make your prospective customer’s life much easier and help you get the sale.

Include Detailed Product Information

My husband and I are currently shopping for baby furniture and it really frustrates me if I cannot get all the product specifications from a company’s website. It would make my life so much easier and save the company from having to look up the information each time I call. I suspect I am not the only one calling so multiply my questions by hundreds if not thousands and that’s a lot of time you could save.

The sort of detailed product information I would like to see includes:

  • Detailed photographs – including front, side and rear views. It’s also vital that your photos are of high quality and can be zoomed in for a closer view.
  • List colour options and include photographs of the product in the different colours it comes in.
  • Item dimensions – height, width, length, weight and whatever else is relevant to the product.
  • Instruction manual.
  • Product reviews.

This is basic information that prospective customers need to make up their minds, so have it all there for them.

Reduce Printing and Mail Costs

Every business knows that printing and mail form a large part of your expenses. However if you use your website smartly you can reduce these costs significantly.

Online Forms and Documents

Where at all possible encourage your customers to use your website to download the information and/or forms they are after. This is often extremely convenient for them and as a bonus they are using their own printer, paper and ink not yours and you save on postage. You can do this for a range of printed materials including forms, manuals, product brochure, sales catalogs and so on.

Use Online and Email Newsletters

If you have been mailing out newsletters to keep in touch with your customers it’s time to stop. The same newsletter can be included on your website or sent out via email, or both, for a fraction of the cost. You can also set up your website to enable prospective customers to sign up online.

Use Your Website to Promote Sales and Specials

Rather than post out brochures and catalogs promoting sales encourage your customers to visit your website on a regular basis to check for any promotions or sales you have. Of course you can include an online, electronic brochure for them to download. You’ll also find that customers often forward the catalog onto their friends who they think would be interested in your products and services – giving you more ways to reach new prospective customers – for no additional expense to you.

Reduce Support Costs

Another great way to cut your expenses is by using your website and email to provide support services.

Provide Support Information on Your Website

I remember I lost the manual to our clothes dryer a few years ago and instead of having to call the company, get put on hold, request one be sent out, wait for it to arrive, yada, yada, yada I simply went to their website and downloaded a copy. So easy. Easy for me and easy for the company – they didn’t have to take my call, source the manual and then post it out to me.

There is a wide range of support documentation you could include on your website:

  • Instruction Manuals
  • Troubleshooting Guides
  • Software Drivers
  • Returns & Claims Forms

Provide Support Via Email

Email is a convenient, easy and efficient way of providing support to your customers. It can also help you cut expenses by:

  • Reducing staff costs – one staff member can easily handle a number of enquiries at the same time.
  • It reduces your phone bill, especially if you offer 1800 numbers.
  • It increases customer satisfaction and loyalty – they get fast responses and resolution of their problems.
  • Answers can be stored in a database so common questions don’t have to be re-answered from scratch each time you receive them.

These are just some of the ways your business can reduce it’s expenses by utilising your website and email. And I’ve not even touched on online marketing and promotion.

Some of these systems will take some time and effort to set-up but once they’re in place they can be used over and over and over again saving you money and providing satisfaction to your clients. That sounds like win, win to me.

A Succesful Website Starts With the Strategy

It’s pretty obvious that any good house starts with a solid foundation. The same applies to a website. In order to ensure a successful website that achieves your goals you need to start with a solid foundation. You need to develop a sound website strategy that outlines your goals, target audience, market position, competitors and marketing efforts. This strategy, or blueprint, will help you and your web designer develop a website that will achieve you online goals.

Put it this way if you don’t know why you want a website, apart from because everyone else has one, how will you be able to measure your success? Quite simply you can’t.

So how do you develop your strategy? To get you started consider the following:

What Are Your Online Goals?

What are the goals of your website? What do you want to achieve?

  • Sell products online?
  • Build sales leads?
  • Reduce support costs?
  • Inform people?
  • Attract newsletter sign-ups?
  • Attract advertising revenue?
  • Brand yourself or your company?
  • To reduce time providing telephone support?

Once you’ve defined your goals you can set about working out how to achieve them and how to measure the results.

Who Is Your Target Audience?

Who is your website targeted to? Think about your audience and try to break it down in terms of:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Location
  • Income
  • Internet skills
  • Other

This will help you to determine your target audience which in turn will influence the look and feel of the website, whether you need to target an international, national or local market, what sort of pricing strategy to adopt, how easy the website should be to use and what sort of ongoing marketing strategies are required.

Who is Your Competition? How Are They Positioned?

Take the time to check out the competitive space. Questions to ask:

  • Who are your online competitors?
  • How do they position themselves?
  • How easy/hard is their website to use? Is it engaging? Compelling?
  • How are they positioned in the search engines? Can you compete?

How Will Prospective Customers Find You?

Once your site is built and launched you need to ensure a steady stream of targeted visitors. Now is the time to start looking at your ongoing marketing and what strategies you’ll need to adopt. Where will your prospects come from? Some to consider:

  • Search engines?
  • Word of mouth & referrals?
  • Offline advertising?
  • Online advertising?
  • Forum participation?
  • Blogging?
  • Other?

The answers to these questions will help you define your marketing strategy and your overall website strategy. For example if you feel search engines will be an important driver of traffic to your website it is vital that that is taken into account when your website is being designed.

By considering the above you’ll be able to put together a clear blueprint detailing your website strategy and how it should be implemented. And in the long run it will help you, and your web designer, create a successful website.