In today’s business climate, it is more important than ever to be proactive and take effective action against dismal economic forecasts. True, our politicians may have done serious damage to the economy, but a successful money management program will work even when times are bad. And, an integral part of any successful cash flow management program is promotion and advertising.
“Many business owners, health care professionals included, will cut back on the amount of promotion and marketing they do when the economy takes a downturn. Unfortunately, this is the opposite of what they should be doing. A good cash flow management rule in a down economy is that a business should actually increase the amount of promotion that it is doing, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to use Internet marketing.
The Internet is one of the most cost-effective methods of marketing to a very large audience for relatively little money. Although many business owners already have websites, there are still a large proportion of business owners who have not yet taken advantage of modern marketing technology. And for those who are, there are ways of increasing the amount of web traffic you get in order to attract more customers.
There are four important factors that a business owner should take into consideration regarding websites, according to Internet marketing expert Brian Dawson, CEO of Customer Finder Marketing. “The four things are the choice of the web address, the design of the site, the continual freshening of the site, and the promotion of the site.”
Factor #1 – Create a Great Web Address
The web address (the www.websitename.com portion) is actually one of the most important aspects of a website. There are several factors that go into the mix.
“First of all, your web address should be easy to remember and not overly long or complicated,” says Dawson, “and it also should be connected to your industry in some way. This is important because a major component of Internet marketing is the websites performance on search engines like Google. More than likely, your new potential customers are going to find you through a search engine, and if your website address is incorrectly named, you won’t show up on the search engine.”
Search engines like Google use your web address in order to determine where you show up in the search results. If a potential customer is looking for braces for their teeth, the words “orthodontist” or “braces” should probably be in your web address for maximum effect.
And there is another little trick that Dawson recommends in order to rank highly on the search engines and thus drive in a lot of web traffic.
“Many times you can take advantage of the availability of local web addresses which include the name of the town or city where the practice is located,” observes Dawson. “For example, the web address “www.PlumberDallas.com” might be available if your practice is located in Dallas, Texas. This can be extremely advantageous as many people do local searches beginning with the area that they live in. Doing this could put the business immediately at the head of the line.”
In order to find out what web addresses are available, go to sites like GoDaddy.com or Register.com. It may take a bit of trial and error, but with a little patience and creativity, good web address names can usually be found. Don’t bother buying an address that ends in anything other than .com (dot com) as internet searchers habitually and automatically use .com for every search, and if you have .net (dot net) or .biz (dot biz) or something else as your website ending, then your site won’t show up to the dot com searchers.
Factor # 2 – Don’t Make Me Think
Obviously there is an almost infinite variety of ways in which to design a website. In most cases, the business owners themselves are not going to be the individual who actually builds the website. This is usually going to be left up to a web designer. However, there is one over-riding philosophical principle that should guild the ultimate look and feel of your website: Don’t make me think.
“In web design, there is sometimes the temptation to throw everything at once at the visitor,” explains Dawson, referring to the way that some websites are constructed. “But this is usually a mistake. Websites that are too busy or have too much information on the home page can actually confuse the visitor and actually cause them to leave the website,” he says. “We’ve all experienced this, and the fact of the matter is that most of us have little tolerance for a website that doesn’t give us the information that we are looking for in a fast and intuitive way. That’s why I recommend that the primary design concept should be “Don’t Make Me Think.” Follow that principle and you will create a much more successful site that attracts new customers and keeps them on the site once they arrive.”
“Don’t Make Me Think” means a site design that has a natural flow to it and is easy to navigate. Visitors should be able to find any information that they are looking for quickly and easily, without having to hunt for it. Rather than trying to say everything at once on the home page, Dawson recommends that you start simple, and use a navigation bar and clear calls to action to lead the user deeper into the website to get into more detailed information.
To this end, Faulkner recommends a simple test. Take someone unfamiliar with the site and give them the web address. When they get to your site, don’t say anything and watch how they react. Any points of slowness or confusion are points that should be corrected in terms of your design. It is a simple but highly effective test. If your web design is truly intuitive, the person should have no problems understanding and navigating around your site.
Factor # 3 – Freshen that Web Site!
“A search engine, like Google or Yahoo, has one job. That job can be described this way,” says Dawson. “When someone types in what they are looking for in the search bar of Google, then Google’s job is to dish up the freshest, most relevant content as the answer to that question.” Pages on the internet that deliver the freshest, most relevant content as the answer will appear on page 1 of Google’s answer to the search query, along with the businesses’ Google Places Pages that have a Google Places Page that has been claimed and optimized correctly. If you don’t have your Google Places Page set up, verified and optimized correctly, we can help you with that.
Now here’s the thing, what do the search engines consider “fresh and relevant” content? Well, it’s the content that has most recently been added to the internet websites that best answer the question for the searcher. So, it is fatal to have what we call a “static” website where nothing is ever added and the visitor has nothing to do when they arrive. For that reason it is highly advisable to have a Blog where new articles are posted about your industry and your business at frequent intervals. Of course these articles should be optimized to contain your industry’s keywords that the person typing in the search bar will use to find you. There are also certain types of website platforms that Google likes, and ones they definitely don’t like…right now having a WordPress website is important. Google loves them. It’s also critical to have a dynamic mobile responsive website that looks great and is easy to navigate on a cell phone.
Factor # 4 – Promote that Web Site!
“Once website is up and running, it should be promoted in every way possible,” says Dawson. “The web address should literally appear on every piece of promotional material that you have. Letterhead, business and appointment cards, brochures, you name it. Anything that has your name on it should also have the address of your website on it.”
It also pays to be creative in this regard. Virtually anything in the office is a potential source of promotion. Pens, bags, packaging, balloons, etc., are all potential promotional vehicles. Every article that a customer takes home with them becomes a potential source of advertising for the practice.
Another excellent means of promotion is the use of Marketing Articles and your Blog. The term Blog is short for “web log” and is a place the practice owner can post journal entries or articles on any topic that would be of interest to their patients. Examples are announcing events at the practice, tips on teaching kids how to care for their teeth, the difference between bridges and implants, anything that is newsworthy or that the dentist would like to tell patients.
Dawson also recommends marketing articles as one of the best choices to put on the Blog. “Google responds best to fresh, relevant content,’ he says. A marketing article is an article that the public is going to find informative and that has relevance to your industry in some way. It is a highly effective way of getting noticed on the Internet and getting more customers.” The marketing article doesn’t have to be overly long, nor should it be overly technical. Be informative but use terms the average customer would understand. Without being too self-promotional, always mention the name of your business, and, of course, your web address.
“Every website should have a blog attached to it, and at least once or twice a week that blog should be updated,” explains Dawson. “The reason for this is that blogs instantly send out your information to the Internet and the search engines. As the search engines notice your site, you rise up through the rankings and the odds of the public finding your site increase dramatically.”
Other methods of adding fresh content about your business, your products and your services are posting regularly in the social media sites like facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
Make short, interesting, well-optimized video ads that direct viewers to your website and contain a strong call to action to do something; visit your website, call for an appointment, or sign up for your email list to get free, high quality information. Get these posted on your company’s video channel on YouTube on a regular basis.
Add local listings for your business a few at a time so that by the end of 12 to 24 months you are listed in the top 150 local directories on the internet linked to your website. It is a lot of work, and you have to do it right for it to pay off, but it can sure make the phone ring and customer traffic show up at your store or clinic. If you have no idea how to produce video ads for your business, or where or how to do local directory listings, Brian Dawson can help you with that too.
Internet marketing is a big subject, but following the principles above is a proven way to develop a successful web site that attracts new customers and patients. There is a saying “When times are good you have to promote, and when times are bad you have to promote more.” Don’t buy into the doom and gloom of the mass media. Take effective action and expand that business.
Internet Marketing Expands Your Business And Increases Cash Flow, so use it liberally.