A to Z of Marketing: O = Online

The A to Z of marketing is designed to give you a flavour of the multitude of components that need to be considered when marketing  a business.

This week we look at O = Online.

There have been a lot of letters within this A-Z guide that look at the digital marketplace – whether it is talking about SEO, Inbound Marketing or Social Media.  This highlights the importance that an online presence plays in most businesses’ marketing strategy today.

Twenty years ago, most of us would never have even been on a website, let alone built one for our own business.  However, fast forward to the modern day and if you don’t have an online presence, you are being left behind – and I do seriously mean you will be out of business soon.

Although a website doesn’t necessarily need to play a key role in terms of lead generation for your business, today’s generation of media savvy purchasers will always (re)search online for a business to check out who they are potentially going to spend money with prior to parting with their hard earned cash – whether they are business clients or consumers.

If you went online to check out a potential supplier and they had no website, what would you think?  Have they gone bust?  Is this a real company or is someone trying to a pull fast one on me?  How out of touch is this business – do I want to work with them?

Even the dreaded “website under construction” page sends a shiver down my spine.  If it is under construction, leave the old one up until you are ready? (unless it is damaging your business).  What that message says to me is that “I am not interested in giving you any further supporting information about my business and my credentials”.  I don’t think I have ever worked with a supplier who’s website is “under construction” – it doesn’t exactly suggest to me that they are completer finishers!

Another no-no is to have a website that does more harm than good.  Now I look at a lot of websites in my job and some of them are atrocious.

They are littered with grammatical errors, links that do not work, poor copywriting and content and some of them look (and sound) absolutely awful.

If it looks like it is from the 80’s – change it.  The Internet didn’t even exist then!  Get someone outside of the business to look at your website from a customer’s perspective (not friends and family).  Listen to their feedback and make the changes.

Understand the role the website plays in your business.  At the very least it should be communicating the values of the business and the level of professionalism you want to convey.  At the most, if you marry content, design, functionality and findability it can become the sole sales function of your business.

I bet if we looked at all the SME businesses that have disappeared over the last 2 years and lined up their websites alongside their competitors – 90% of them will realise why they went bust!  Don’t be the next one!  Even if online is not viewed as an essential part of your strategy at least make sure it is not damaging your reputation.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.
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