Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Let's get started...

OK, first blog entry so I'd like to start at the beginning...a plan!

Too often I come across companies and organizations that really haven't thought about what they want their web presence to accomplish. You may have heard terms like web analytics, email marketing, CMS, CRM, traffic conversion, lift and many others, WHHHAAAAA!!! For many of us small and medium sized organizations, we are focused on our core activities and busy executing on our business plans to improve our desired outcomes and we can feel really confused about all this jargon we don't really understand. At the same time, there is this niggling feeling we have in the back of our minds that there is something there for us, we just don't know what that might be. This is where the plan comes in.

The first thing I'd like you to consider, whether you have a website or not is what you want your website to do for your company/organization. One way to think this through is to answer the question what do you want visitors to your site to accomplish? Is it only for information? If so to what end? Do you want them to contact you? If so what information would you like in preparation for your follow-up?

Let me finish this first entry with an example. Recently, I was in discussion with a business owner who's business is a very successful small operation and they didn't have a website. The owner felt that it was time for a website because they felt that it would add value to the business and there is the possibility that the business will be sold in 5-15 years, but they really didn't have a clear idea what the site should accomplish and so I asked a question based on my personal experience: "Do you spend any time talking with prospective customers about the same things over and over again and if so, how much time?" Bingo! The first purpose of the website was clear, implement an FAQ. Frequently Asked Questions are just that, questions that are asked over and over again and that someone in your organization spends valuable time answering instead of being focused on business deliverables. Don't misunderstand me, of course answering these questions is an important part of establishing your relationship with a prospective client, but if your real conversation starts after the FAQ is addressed, you have saved valuable time and resources and can re-allocate those same resources to other business activities. You've automated an important part of your business process, and you've just scratched the surface of what is possible. By the way, in the real example above, the owner estimates that, based on results to date, this will save them about two weeks on an annual basis, what's that worth to you?

We live at the edge of the future...

Andy Xhignesse

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