Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hello, hello? Where are you?

I had an interesting experience the other day that I want to share with you because it happens far too often.

A colleague had heard about a great place to buy snow tires and went online to try and find them so he could get some information about the company etc. He couldn’t remember the company name, it was on the tip of his tongue and knew that as soon as he saw it he’d recognize it, so like most of us he ‘googled’. He googled for ‘snow tires ottawa’. (yes, here in Ottawa snow tires are a good idea, snow and bad drivers are not a good mix!) This seemed like a pretty logical search to him. You know what I’m about to tell you, they were nowhere to be found, not near the top, not in the middle, not on the first page, or the second or the third! Who cares, the likelihood of being visited if you’re not on the first page is very low. Here is information you might not have been expecting, on that first page in the organic results, there was only ONE direct listing to a company who sells tires, the rest were indirect links to directories and lists and…stuff. Do you want to be in the ‘stuff’ or do you want to be there in the top links?

Call me, email me, and tell me what people are searching for when they are trying to find you and we’ll get you to the top, that’s part of what website maintenance is all about. What does it cost your operation when potential site visitors can’t find you?

We live at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

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