By Winmark Business Solutions
When developing your company's Web site, it may be wise to step back and take a macro view of your customers and the Internet experience.
A market-led approach to Internet marketing provides customers with a personal brand experience by combining the benefits of mass marketing with those of customer relationship marketing (CRM).
The goal of mass marketing is to constantly acquire new customers by differentiating your company, and its products, from competitors. This results in a strong brand identity, but does not always adapt well to Internet marketing. Mass market-oriented messages are often too general to meet the needs of information-seeking Internet users.
The goal of CRM, by contrast, is to continually increase the volume of business with existing customers by offering a range of personalized services and products. This results in good customer service, but does not adequately differentiate your organization from its competitors among potential customers.
Web site content needs to guide target markets from discovery through exploration and interaction toward action. The first 10 seconds your target markets spend on your company's Web site are among the most crucial. Site visitors determine whether they will become site users. They perceive the value of your site. They form first impressions about your company and predict the likelihood of finding useful information on your Web site. Many visitors will leave your Web site immediately because the site seems unrelated to their search. Others will explore your site.
The chart below illustrates how consumers interact with the Internet. The first challenge is to get consumers to discover your Web site. Once they're on the site, they need a reason to explore. Typically only 60 percent of visitors will stay on your site long enough to skim or read some of the content. Approximately 15 percent of your visitors will interact with the tools to help them make a purchase decision, and 2 percent will act on that decision.
Consumer Interaction with the Internet
All visitors to your Web site are seeking information. During the exploration phase, each page of content has less than a minute to communicate with a site visitor. The amount of time visitors spend exploring your Web site, and their perception of value of the time being spent, varies based on their ability to progress toward the desired buying decision.
Work Smart Tip
Site visitors interact anonymously with your Web site. Through these various interactions, they form lasting impressions about your company, its products and its level of service. This includes comparing the information that you provide with information they have received from other sources. Getting customers involved through interactive elements, such as a self-assessment, can be an effective method for cultivating strong customer relationships and gathering additional customer insights.
Successful Web sites typically include the ability for customers to act online—to call, purchase a product, find a local distributor or retail location or request a proposal. All Web sites should include the ability to follow-up offline by telephone, since some customers prefer speaking with someone to submitting an order or other information online. Be sure to include these elements when planning a company Web site project.
About the Author
Winmark Business Solutions (WBS) is a free Web site for small businesses and entrepreneurs containing over 6,000 pages of business-critical information and downloadable tools at www.WBSonline.com. WBS is a division of Winmark Corporation, a multi-brand franchisor with nearly 900 franchise locations in North America. With over 25 years working with small businesses, WBS draws upon years of experience to bring important small business articles, information, tools, forms, checklists, calculators and downloadable forms to the small business owner to help their business grow. WBS contains over 6000 pages of business-critical information all available at www.WBSonline.com.