Understanding clearly what it is that you offer, and who’s buying it, can help you take your business to the next level. If you offer a service for example – say you trim trees for homeowners – then you have an obvious niche that you serve. If you’re based in Wheat Ridge (like we are) you can say you serve the Denver Metro Area. You don’t want someone from New Jersey contacting you about trimming their trees and they don’t want to waste their time either. So you can focus on your immediate area.
Continuing on the localization theme, why not target the key phrase “Wheat Ridge” or “Wheat Ridge tree trimmer”? Sure there many only be a handful of people who search for that each year. But wouldn’t you want those people to be your customers? So localization is one way of determining your niche.
But there are others. The constant message I hammer is Define Your Target. Some of my customers get hung up on the fact that “well my target is here but I also have customers over in this category”. Don’t think about that! Define your ideal target customer. Then develop all of your marketing, including your web site marketing strategies, around that target. When you’re playing darts, you never hit the bullseye with every dart. But the more you practice aiming straight for the bullseye, the better you get at hitting it. And some of your darts will inevitably end up missing the target all together. Same with your clients. Some will not be anything like your target. And that’s OK. But the more you aim for your target, the more customers you’ll get that are in close to your idea.
Other examples of defining your niche or target:
Deal in Real Estate? Residential or Commercial? New homes or existing homes? Sell alot of ranch homes? A lot of tudor homes?
Selling stick dolls online? Who has been buying them? What do you know about them? Mostly female? Mostly in their 30’s? Single? Married? Buying for themselves? Buying as a gift?
Once you’ve defined your niche, make sure that you’re targeting keywords that fit that niche. Also if you have identified a certain demographic, use tools such as Claritas or Mark Kassof (focuses on Radio but a lot of carryover to the web) to help you understand how to target that niche that you have defined.
OK, once you’ve got a plan (the goals for your web site) and you have a marketing plan (what will drive people to your site?) its time to figure out what you want people to do when they get to your site. This is a pretty basic concept and yet one that is often overlooked.
There are various actions that you, as a web site owner, may want your visitors to do on any given page or process of pages. These actions will make the most sense if we start with: “I want the visitor to”
- call for a quote or appointment
- fill out a form requesting more information
- join my newsletter
- buy something from my online store
- create a profile on my blog
- contribute their expertise on my forum
- tell three friends about my site
This is by no means a complete list but hopefully helps you think about what you want to accomplish with your site. Once you understand WHAT you want people to do, you can begin to figure out HOW they should do it.
Once I asked a client whose ad campaign we were managing what he wanted the visitor who clicked through to a particular page to do. He replied “I want to educate them.” I waited a few seconds and finally he came out with “Eventually I want them to call me.” That made my next question very easy – “Where is your phone number?” I asked. “Oh.”
The next day he had not only put his phone number very prominently on the page, he had also created a page that let visitors ask for more information online. The point of the story is that once you have determined what you want people to do on your page, make sure it is easy for them to do it.
As we continue to examine the top 10 questions each business owner needs to consider when taking their site to the next level, we look at question 2: How do I expect people to find my site?
The Kevin Costner approach in Field of Dreams does not work. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve spoken with people who honestly believe “If I build it, they will come.” But it just isnt’ so. If you want to get people to come to visit your site, you have to have a plan to market that site.
Here’s a quick list of ways you can plan for traffic to your site:
- Make sure every piece of paper and email you generate lists your web address
- Run a Pay Per Click campaign in one or more of the search engines
- Provide an incentive for current or past clients to come and visit – include that in your newsletter
- Get others to link to your site (this can be as easy as picking up the phone and making a call or as easy as offering the right partner a small amount to link to you)
- Ensure that your site is optimized for search engines like Google, Yahoo and Live
- Get involved in social bookmarking and bookmark relevant pages in your site
- Highlight your site in any print advertising you do
- Create a blog on your site and post to it regularly so that people have a reason to come back
These ideas are just intended to help you get the creative juices flowing. The important thing is that you have a plan for your site and then you go about implementing that plan.
For more than a year we have been offering the 10 essential questions to answer when you are ready to take your site to the next level. The response to this has been so good that we are going to take a deeper look at each question.
The first question is “What are the goals for my web site?” While the question seems simple enough, a lot of people struggle with this one. Too frequently the complete answer we get is “Because everyone else has a site.” Putting aside the parental instinct to reply “if everyone was jumping off a cliff, would you?” we sit down and talk about what reasonable goals people can set for their web site.
If you are selling goods or services via your web site, you will want to set a goal some kind of sales goals. If the site already exists, perhaps your goal will be to increase sales 50% over the course of the next year with a redesigned web site. If the site is brand new, you can set a dollar goal for numbers of sales.
Even if you aren’t selling anything on your site, you should still set goals. We track where every new customer comes from. So we know when we get a new customer through our web site as opposed to getting it through word of mouth. If your goal is to get 5 new customers through your web site each quarter, this will help you plan out your site. I had one client who had an existing site and he stated that his goal was to educate customers. I said he must be doing a very good job because the page we were looking at had 100s of visitors but almost no conversion to customers.
He looked at me for a moment and then said, “Well ultimately I’d like them to call.” I gently asked him where his phone number was on the page and suddenly a great big light bulb went off inside his head. Now that he had a goal – get people to call – he could evaluate his site and make changes as needed.
Tune in next time for “How do I expect people to find my site?”