These days, very few businesses exist without a website. Even the smallest “mom and pop” businesses have a web site. Sadly, many businesses have created a web site simply because “it’s the thing to do” but they do not know how to use it effectively or how to make it fit in with their marketing strategy.
What To Do With Your Web Site
The most basic question regarding a business web site is, “Is the web site intended to be an online advertisement, to provide a means of customer relations, to provide a point of sale, or to be a ‘full service’ business site?”
The most basic use of a business web site is simply to advertise a business. It is little different than printing flyers briefly telling about your business and the products and/or services you provide, then hiring someone to place them on car windshields. It conveys information about your company, and serves as a flag to help direct customers to your physical location in much the same way as a Yellow Pages advertisement but at a much lower cost.
A customer relations site will promote the company as a whole. A customer relations site provides a place to trumpet the companies press releases, highlight the company’s community activities and promote it’s corporate identity. Generally it will also provide a means of allowing customers to send feedback to the company and features customer testimonials from previous feedback.
Point of Sale
Moving beyond mere promotion, a Point of Sale site is designed to sell, or solicit inquiries for, the company’s products and/or services online. The sale of ‘commodity’-type products from a business website simplifies the ordering process for customers, is more convenient and encourages the purchase of the product/service to the customer. It also reduces the businesses cost by allowing for the sale of it’s product/service without having to dedicate a person to handle each customer individually.
It may not be appropriate to sell products of a more specialized or custom nature directly from a website. But a well designed Point of Sale website can prompt the customer to submit a request more information or request contact from a sales representative. This provides the opportunity to convert the web site visitor from a ‘window-shopper’ into a buying customer by getting the all-important contact information.
A full service site is an online advertisement, a customer relations site, and an online sale site. It is an electronic version of a traditional business establishment, providing the same services and capabilities of a physical business location. In fact, many businesses have developed over the past few years which a totally ‘virtual’ businesses; They exist only on the internet.
Which type of site for you?
The type of site you choose will depend on a number of factors, including the amount of resources you wish to invest and what you want your web site to achieve. Be sure to consult with qualified web developers and designers, and qualified SEO experts for assistance and guidance.