Thursday, May 13, 2010

Starting with your online presence!

Your company is established, its making money, you have a need to tap into new markets and expand: You decide to establish your online presence...Well let me break the news for you: you're late, you're wrong and your competition is well ahead of you now. You should have thought of that as soon as you started your company and, from now on, make sure not to treat your online presence as a secondary medium. Instead give it the right attention, and ingredients as it has the best Return On Investment and the wider reach if treated and managed properly.

Better late than never, here is what you should do:

1. Set your objectives and KPIs
Make sure that you understand what you want to achieve from the website, what you want to expose, who do you want to target and how you are going to maintain. If at this point in time, you still want to do your website because simply "everybody else is doing it"...then I would suggest you stop reading, close your browser, go take a nap and hope that when you wake up it will all be better!

~Sample objectives can be: Increase brand awareness, Create an interactive platform between clients and the company, Create targeted messages for existing clientèle, Reduce overhead costs of HR department...and much more~

2. Gather your ingredients
If you now have the will to develop your online presence for the right reasons, than its a good start, but not enough. You need more than that, namely:
  • Your content needs to be shaped and crafted for the web and not taken from your brochure or offline collaterals. Building your online presence mainly revolves around the unique content that you provide, its quality and the messages you transmit.
  • The interactivity of your presence (The site map, the navigational structure, the cross linkage, the dynamic components...etc...), as this what would make you stand between your competitors and mainly make the visitors come back and ask for more information...and you never know, maybe make up their mind and take their decision about hiring your services
  • The look and feel of your online presence is very important. Make sure that your brand guidelines are properly reflected and used, and please, please, not design your website for your manager, CEO or owner as they are not the main audience of your website (i.e.: Have their CV and pictures all over)
  • Think about how you are going to maintain your online presence, you need to clearly identify who will be doing so, what and how often. Keep in mind that the real work on the website actually comes after the launch.
~Looks and interaction will make people like your website for a while... Content and maintenance will sustain this~

3. Choose your cook!
You gathered your ingredients, now you need to choose your right partner. Yes think about having a partner for your online presence, somebody who is willing to go the extra mile with you, understand your business needs and put you ahead of your competition. Now, here goes a useful tip: Don't go with web developers go with New Media Agencies / Digital Agencies instead because:
  • You need to tell web developers what to do while digital agencies lead the way
  • Web developers build you a website, Digital agencies build you an online presence
  • Digital agencies need you to become a long lasting partner, while web developers want to get through with your project
  • Web developers are technology centric, while Digital agencies use technology as a mean to achieve marketing objectives
  • Digital agencies recommend while web developers adapt
  • Web developers deliver features while agencies provide you solutions
~The world wide web is no longer about HTML, a URL and some development language behind it, it is now a strategic approach tackling various aspect of your brand, services and communication strategies with a focus on ROI~

In a nutshell, the online presence should be your marketing department baby and your IT department should be available for support. It is a fact that all your company's departments can benefit from your online presence - Make sure you have the right ingredients and cooks to tap it successfully.

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