Sep 2010
Planning for your website
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” – this quote has been attributed to many people over the years. It is true of any activity.
To start your planning, you must first understand your audience – who are they, how to they access information, how do they interact with you, etc. When you understand them, you will understand how to communicate with them and how to encourage them to interact/buy from you.
When you understand your audience, you can start to plan how you intend to interact with them – the tone of voice, the language and imagery you intend to use and how you can make them buy from you.
Start writing your content in the most appropriate way for your audience and the medium. Writing for a website is not the same as writing for a magazine or an email campaign.
Each section or page of your website will attract a different audience – it may not be a radically different audience, but may require modified content or imagery.
Planning your website includes planning the keywords and page description (meta tags) for each page. Meta tag keywords have less importance in modern search engines, but you still need them to organise your visibility online. Keep the keywords or phrases to a minimum – just one or two per page.
Initial planning for a brand new site will also include the overall design of the pages – where the images, the menu and logo, etc, are placed. You should also plan the structure of your site – how you subdivide the content into understandable sections.
If you already have an offline brand, your colours or imagery may not translate well to your website. I am not advocating that you must alter your corporate identity, nor am I suggesting that you run two different identities, but the better you plan your presence, the fewer issues you will encounter.
If you plan to give away information or downloads, make sure that you get customer details, collected securely from an online form or via an email. This relates to the Data Protection Act – keeping the data secure and only collecting what you need. You may also have to register your database with the Information Commissioner.
In terms of legal compliance – if you sell online, make yourself aware of the various sales legislation – the Distance Selling Act, the Sale of Goods and Services Act, etc. Ignorance of the law is no excuse!
Worried? Don’t be. Planning involves learning, so look at the many resources available online to help you. You will succeed if you plan carefully.
Mobile Marketing
iPad, iPad, iPad...
That's all we seem to hear at the moment - and other manufacturers are also getting involved. But the gadget is not the market!
For many years I have been telling people that the future of marketing was mobile. The Internet has gone mobile, with smartphones (or if you want the Apple branding - iPhone) and now gadgets like the iPad mean that people access the web on the go. Vehicles are being fitted with WiFi equipment, MP3 players and Sat Nav software.
The example I gave was of a WiFi enabled vehicle that displayed the message that in 1 mile the driver can stop for a McDonalds. A few hundred yards away from the restaurant, the driver receives a voucher to their computer and on via bluetooth on their mobile phone for an offer related to a meal.
So what does that mean in terms of Marketing?
Marketing is returning to its local roots. Before the days of mass media, local posters, local offers, etc were all the rage. Marketers could not reach customers further afield! We now have the ability to reach out internationally as well as using local services such as Bluetooth, WiFi and WiMax. Gadgets such as smartphones and tablet computers will lead the way and marketers will follow - often too slowly.
Many years ago I undertook a trial using MMS-enabled phones and bar-code vouchers. Back then (2001) it was a failure because the infrastructure was not in place, and the technology did not provide the quality needed. Now such technology allows airlines to send boarding cards to smartphones saving paper and negating the need for a device with a printer attached.
In this blog, I am not telling marketers how to work in this new world (I am learning myself, and it is my USP), but I am trying to get marketers to understand that they will need to adapt to this changing marketplace. We need to remain relevant, and it is not about the technology, so start thinking...