Upgrading Your Company Website
By Jerry Bader (c) 2008
(reprinted from SitePro News, November 2008)
Dealing with website development issues can be an overwhelming task. There are many things your marketing team must consider, in fact, there are so many things to bear in mind that many of the most important ones never get dealt with, or are buried under competing interests.
To avoid project paralysis you should focus on certain key areas of concern from which all other issues flow. Whether upgrading your existing website or developing a new webmedia initiative from scratch, consider these four vital questions that need to be answered:
1. What content should be included?
2. How should content be delivered?
3. How is your website going to be marketed?
4. What will visitors remember?
What Content Should Be Included?
Content is a function of purpose. Unfortunately many websites don't have a clearly thought-out realistic purpose; and orders alone, is not an adequate website objective. Obviously every company needs sales, that's a given, but sales are a result of all the marketing elements you put in place, and the degree to which your presentation distinguishes you from your competition.
There is a prevailing view that traffic translates into sales; this viewpoint may be valid for websites whose economic model is commodity or advertising-based, but businesses that don't compete on price alone, or are more than an excuse to deliver advertising, must be structured around a purpose that is more meaningful, and far more compelling than 'give me an order or don't bother me.'
An over-emphasis on search engine friendly site design ignores the fact that when someone does a search for what you do, they'll not only find you, they'll also find many of your competitors as well. And even if you appear first in the search, nothing will stop potential clients from clicking on any of the other organic or advertised listings, or even the numerous Adword links on the side of the page.
The biggest website design problem companies have is not the amount of traffic generated from search engines, but rather how visitors react to your content. Are visitors engaged, enlightened, and entertained so that they stay on your site long enough to get your marketing message, and is that message compelling enough for them to remember it?
There are many misconceptions about advertising content, one of the biggest is that people hate it, but the truth is, what people hate is bad ad content; qualified clients actually look forward to good advertising because it presents a relevant problem, and provides a believable solution, in a distinctive memorable presentation.
If your content doesn't engage your audience with a persuasive, memorable presentation then you'll never achieve whatever website marketing goals you've set.
How Should Content Be Delivered?
We know the vast majority of people don't like to read text on a computer screen, so they scan for relevant information concentrating on bulleted points, captions, and headlines, but does that truncated information really get your message across? Website text is really designed for search engine spiders, which is fine, but how about paying a little attention to people and how they absorb and remember information?
We also know people are impatient and are ready to abandon your website with the click of mouse, often in mid sentence before they ever get to the point you are trying to make. Your clients are sophisticated media consumers raised on video games and television, and are used to making quick decisions on limited information; this kind of leap-of-logic protocol demands a clever focused presentation.
Your audience will be gone in seconds no matter how convincing you think your content is, if it is not presented in a media-savvy manner that holds viewer attention, otherwise your website is nothing more than a glorified Yellow Page ad.
Audio and video has the potential to deliver information in a form and format that attracts and holds viewer interest while it makes a memorable impression. But even audio and video will fail if it is badly conceived, poorly written, and amateurishly performed.
How Is Your Website Going To Be Marketed?
Everyone is concerned with traffic and how to drive it to their websites. Search engine optimization is only one marketing technique, and it's one that ignores the impact of content on your audience in favor of attracting the attention of search engine robots. By all means, build search engine friendly elements into your site but don't ignore people-friendly elements as well.
Having text-based articles on your site is an excellent way to provide search friendly information, but presenting that same information as a professionally produced audio option, or a lively video presentation is certainly more memorable.
An entertaining webmedia presentation makes a lasting impression that viewers are more likely to recommend to colleagues, thereby increasing your traffic and reputation. Word-of-mouth is the best way to generate qualified traffic, and the best way to generate interest in your site is to make your site's presentation a rewarding experience.
What Will Visitors Remember?
In a brick-and-mortar environment, visitors are more likely to make a decision to purchase on the spot, simply to avoid driving halfway across town to save a few dollars, but on the Web jumping from New York to California is as easy as the click of a mouse. People are just more likely to shop-around because it's so easy.
Of course what people think they want is the lowest príce, but providing the lowest príce only attracts the least profitable buyers and ignores the biggest obstacle website businesses need to overcome, and that's credibility. Who are you, and can you be trusted? And after visiting ten different websites all selling the same thing, can they even remember who you are?
Your presentation has to be memorable and establish credibility so that when all the searching and browsing is finished, your site is the one they remember and go back to; your site must be the one visitors can trust to deliver what's promised.
How to Hire A Web Video Firm
The ability to produce an effective video or audio presentation requires more than the possession of some cool hardware and software. Owning an expensive camera doesn't make you a producer, and even the technical ability to edit doesn't qualify you as a commercial marketing expert. When the time comes to hire someone to add video and/or audio to your website what should you be looking for? Below are eight things you should consider when hiring someone to create webmedia.
1. Can the webmedia provider deliver a turnkey solution from concept to implementation, or do you have to act as a producer yourself hiring different people with different skills complicating the project and creating both technical and conceptual implementation problems?
2. Can the webmedia provider produce everything from scripts to custom music in-house, or do they have to farm-out some of the work increasing costs?
3. Does the webmedia provider understand how to use verbal and visual performance to create a convincing, memorable presentation, or do they substitute expensive production techniques for cost-effective psychological persuasion?
4. Does the webmedia provider just shoot video, or do they have the ability to analyze your offering and purpose, and focus it into a consistent, meaningful, branded presentation?
5. Does the webmedia provider have the ability to think strategically as well as tactically? Can they implement and repurpose your investment into your existing website, create a targeted mini campaign site, and provide alternative versions ready for ad implementation?
6. Does the webmedia provider have the ability to create lasting campaigns that can be rolled out and built upon, or are they just interested in making a quick buck from a one-off effort? Are they willing and able to be your ongoing webmedia marketing advisor?
7. Does the webmedia provider have the ability to turn advertising into content, and content into an experience, or can they only produce nondescript infomercials?
8. Does the webmedia provider understand business, marketing, branding, and what can and can't be achieved so that you have appropriate achievable expectations?
Commercial presentation production requires a multitude of skills and talents. Big companies solve the problem by hiring advertising agencies that drive the cost of production beyond what most businesses can afford. By understanding what's needed to create an effective webmedia presentation, you can look for a firm that possesses all the necessary talents in-house; an approach that keeps costs down, while producing an exciting Web video campaign that achieves corporate marketing objectives.
About The Author
Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit MRPwebmedia.com, 136Words.com and SonicPersonality.com. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (905) 764-1246.