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Many businesses have a website and many more are either in the process of building one or planning to do so.  Any business that has been paying any attention at all realizes they need to have a web presence if they want to be competitive.

That’s both good news and bad news!

It’s good news because the fact is fewer and fewer consumers are shopping in the traditional way, wandering the high street or the malls.  Many are instead shopping on the web so any business that isn’t there is losing out on an increasingly large consumer base.  The businesses that are seeing the trend and taking active steps to get themselves in front of this audience are potentially moving in the right direction.

It’s bad news because few businesses understand that building a website is far more likely to be a fruitless exercise than a winning strategy.  In fact, the vast majority of websites fail to produce any return for the businesses that invested in their development.

Think I’m Kidding?  Try This!

Facts are facts and you can see exactly what I’m talking about with this simple test.

I will take a fairly large business with a significant brick and mortar presence and undeniably deep pockets with which to build an equally impressive online presence.  I choose them because they have been very public about their desire to have a significant online business.

Gaisano Grand WebsiteGaisano Grand is a combination of department stores and supermarkets located in large malls where they are the anchor business.  Their website is at http://www.gaisanogrand.com/.

 

It isn’t a great site but it should be good enough to develop business with.  It does offer announcements and sales offers.  It also offers things people love like special privileges and exclusive offers.  These are all positives.

It could do a better job of presenting special offers and other incentives that would drive responses.  The banners look good but do nothing to drive conversions.  The offers that are presented require scrolling to be able to see them.  It all gets much more tedious when viewed on mobile devices.

None of that however, makes the slightest difference when determining why this site fails to return a profit.

Alexa ExampleIt fails because it gets practically no traffic.  It is an empty store – a ghost town if you will.  Just take a look at this graphic and you’ll see what I mean.

It does not even rank high enough for Alexa to bother reporting traffic counts and that is a very bad indicator indeed.

For those not familiar with Alexa, it is a web ranking tools that measures the popularity (number of visitors) of all sites in comparison to all other sites.  It is the “go to” tool for many serious site owners and marketers when trying to determine how any site stacks up against the competition.  The Gaisano site hasn’t even made it onto the playing field.

Now you try.  Pick a local business that you know has a website and see how they rank.  Go to http://www.alexa.com/ and put the web address for the site into the box at the top right-hand side of the page.  I’ll bet that for every 10 sites you test 9 will not register any measurable traffic.  That means 90% of all the local business websites your competition have built did nothing more than add red ink to the balance sheet.

Why do websites fail to deliver a positive ROI?

Most site owners are missing 2 key ingredients.  They’ve missed that part of the recipe where the marketing is added to the mix.  The equivalent would be to run an in-store sale and not put a sign up in the window to let everyone know about the great deal.

Even those that recognized the need for marketing often fail to develop and execute an effective marketing strategy right from the start.  That means they are often spending even more on their web development strategy without earning a measurable return.

Here is how to avoid becoming another in the growing list of website failures!

  1. Start by setting goals. It may be to improve net sales or to effectively introduce a new product or service to the marketplace.  It could be to expand your reach well beyond your physical geography.  It might just be to give your existing clients an effective way to stay in touch and connected with you and your business so that your relationship with them is strengthened.  Knowing what you want to achieve is the only way to start out on this journey.
  2. Next, you’ll need to define the specifics that will determine what each goal is to achieve. If it’s increased sales put a number to it.  Don’t leave it generic or even an increase may not be enough to justify the website development investment.  Also remember, this is a long-term investment so set your goals for both the near and long term.
  3. The next step is absolutely critical and one I assure you just about everyone misses. While your site is being designed and developed you also need to develop your marketing strategy and one of the best ways of doing that is to start developing real customer feedback.  So, start by building a landing page.  This is a simple one page site that announces the site that is about to be built while also presenting trial offers and an opportunity to register and be kept up to date on progress and new offers.
  4. There is one more step you need to execute before you start designing your new site and that is a careful analysis of search engine results. You need to know how your competition is ranking for the keywords and phrases that best describe your product or service and you need to build your site content around that knowledge.  This sets the foundation for your site’s search engine ranking and the eventual development of organic traffic.
  5. Now you are ready to begin designing and building your new site, all while you are actively promoting your new landing page and refining your future marketing strategy. Take this time to build buzz as well.  Use social media to your advantage and build your audience and their excitement early on.
  6. Finally, launch your site and use the momentum you’ve built during the lead up to grow your website audience. Make all that you’ve learned while promoting your landing page to make the full website deliver on your goals.

Follow these 6 steps and you have an excellent chance of avoiding what 90% of your competition has encountered.  You can avoid their failure and be one of the very few with a website that actually delivers on the promises everyone touts.  You can and will build a successful web presence based on a combination of a great website that is cost effectively marketed.  The world is waiting to reward your efforts.

Glen Giuffre is a marketer with 30+ years building businesses both in the real and virtual worlds.  He founded World Touch Marketing and provides a leading e-commerce solution through www.e-storebuilder.com.  Visit to learn more about him and what the group can do for you.

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