The Internet can allow you to reach an untold numbers of people, but first you have to create a presence that will generate interest in your company:
Your Web site should 1) offer information about your company, products, services and how to reach you and, 2) give the customer compelling reasons to do business with you.
Offer customers free information. Present advice in a blog format, or better yet, include a hyperlink that will allow them to register for one of your valuable free online newsletters.
Designing your Web site can be a lot of fun, and the cost of designing it will vary greatly based on the solution you choose. You can choose to go with an inexpensive (or free) hosted solution; you can seek out a professional in the StartupNation Community or through your local chamber of commerce; you can buy Web design software and try to design your site yourself if you’re particularly tech-savvy; or you can contact the Information Technology department at your local community college to find a Web design student willing to freelance.
Search Engine Optimizers
OK, you have a kick-ass Web site that dazzles visitors with information about your business acumen and A-plus service. But does anyone know about it? You need to understand how search engines work so Web surfers find you before your competition.
Search engines have millions of pages in their databases (at last count Google alone had north of 8 billion). Use a search engine ranking tool to learn how your site ranks relative to others on the Web.
So now you’ve discovered you’re ranked 3,000 for your ideal keyword. (Yikes!) How do you move up in the list? You do it in part through search engine optimization (SEO). SEO refers to the process of making your site accessible to the search engine “robots” that index your Web site, and building up the relevance of your site through the content on and links into it.
Online analytics is a tool that lives in the shadows of your Web site, always watching invisibly from the background, keeping track of everything that’s going on. Online analytics, downloadable from multiple sources online, helps you to measure and analyze what’s going on when people look at your site. For example, suppose you get 300 visits a day, but you’re seeing only 10 shopping cart orders. What’s happening between the time people first click on your site and the time they leave? Online analytics will help you learn how to use your Web site to close more sales. You can also learn the number of repeat visitors you get, the most popular pages, and many, many other things. Knowing what’s happening as it’s happening is an efficiency that’s unachievable in any other medium.
Intranet and Extranet
Suppose you have six people on staff. You may want to create an intranet site just for them. It’s easy to communicate key information to each employee on a regular basis. Workers can also use it as a tool for human resource questions or even tips on doing their jobs better. If you run a small sales team, for example, you also could use an intranet to help people define their target markets and collaborate on customer retention strategies.
An extranet, on the other hand, would allow you to communicate similarly important information with external contacts – customers, for example. Let’s say there’s a fancy animated presentation you’d like to present to a prospective client. It can be served from your password-access-only extranet and you can do the presentation online rather than having to travel to the client. Specific usernames and passwords can be made for specific clients, thereby policing who has access and when.
Find out more in StartupNation's 11 Steps to Create a Successful Website