Getting heard above all the noise on the web is becoming harder. The old mantra of, “build it and they will come” certainly does hold true on the web in many cases. There are many obvious success stories of this, ala Google, but as more of your competitors or even other websites compete for your customers eyeballs, standing out of the crowd is what you need to get right.
What is certainly true for all sites/products/services on the web is that information is king. He (or she) who holds the data and presents it in the most useful/usable format normally wins. Data can come in multiple forms: text, images, video, maps, news etc and can be presented in multiple formats: blogs, news sites, Facebook, Twitter, email, newsletter, etc.
So, how do you become successful?
1. Be interesting
Ego plays a massive part in developing a good web presence. Tell your visitors that you are good. A good way to do this with industry recognition, testimonials from customers etc.
So to stroke your ego, get connected on Twitter & Facebook and talk about yourself, your product and your site. Build up your network of followers to some decent numbers and compare yourself against your competition. Entice customers & new Twitter followers with interesting campaigns, maybe do a product discount when you increase your twitter followers to 100 (for newbies) or up it by 10% or some other strategic number.
2. KISS – Keep it simple stupid
Simplicity and usability are two of the most important factors on the web. It’s one thing having great data, but if your delivery mechanism isn’t good, it’s worth nothing. Change things slowly, introduce new concepts and see how they perform. Are you getting more visitor traffic through a new page or menu item you created since last week?
3. If you can’t measure it, how can you manage it?
Tracking is one of those vital feedback mechanisms. You need to know how people are getting to your site, what they are searching for, how long they stayed for, how many pages they viewed etc. (you need to track this via Google Analytics)
Analytics provides a FREE & amazingly powerful tool to track your users. You can also track ‘conversions’ and evaluate how these customers got to your site. Conversions can be a specific page view, like a contact form submission or a newsletter signup or even a product order.
4. Build, release. FAST (for online applications)
If your development cycle is months, by the time you have finished building it, is your product even going to suite the users? Taking a lesson from the Agile/Scrum approach to development, build something quickly and release it. Get user feedback comments and see if they like it. Customers know what they want, you can make an educated guess, but that’s exactly it, a guess. Stop guessing, release new features quickly, take a features poll from users and stop trying to understand the customers needs, get them to tell you what THEY want. Decide, build, release, get feedback, reiterate. (in 1-2 months cycles max)
5. Leverage your user base
Engage your users on Facebook, Twitter and other social media applications. Happy users are great promoters of your products. If you are selling something, create an affiliate marketing program, giving them a % of the revenue from the sale. The power of Twitter and other social media allows interesting products/services to go viral. When a new user signs up, encourage them to follow you on twitter. Possibly offer new features in advance to users that ‘retweet’ your message to their friends (this is a great way to get followers)
6. Offline Actions
The biggest debate always revolves around what offline actions one should take. Talk to as many people as possible about your product/service. Get networking, attend conferences, get invited to speak at conferences (this happens when you become the ‘expert’ in your field) and tell friends & family. Be passionate.
7. The bigger picture
Don’t expect overnight success, all these things take time to get right. Quality content & good presentation is the key, the more useful information presented in a good format, the more success you can expect to have.
We often see companies advertising “Get listed on Google” or some other marketing tool, used to entice customers to signup for a website or web hosting, don’t be tempted, if it actually worked, everyone would be using it (even us and we don’t!). Customers also get a website built by someone else and then wonder why they don’t get any visitors.
Realistically it’s all about your content and who links to your content. Be interesting, put some effort into marketing your website and people will come, be boring and people won’t. Google Adwords is also the fastest way to get your website out there (you pay money for people clicking on adverts).
Read up on SEO (search engine optimisation) and SEM (search engine marketing) – start implementing these strategies, they do require a lot of time and energy, but they do really work.