Sometime this year, the word ‘digital’ will get knocked off from the term ‘digital marketing’. It’s not just a fashionable term for corporate bigwigs and consultants to drop at conferences in five star hotels anymore. It’s an integral part of marketing. For starters, if you run a cake shop in suburban Mumbai, it’s coming sooner than you expect to your 250 square feet outlet. And if creating a website is just another item on your list of tasks to grow your business, think again. It’s not enough to buy a domain and get a web developer to make a flashy website for you.
In 2013, your website is already the most important source for potential customers to find out about your products and services, the one thing that makes you stand-out from competition and what new you have to offer. Incidentally, using the internet is the most efficient channel to acquire new customers and to retain existing ones. To make the most of your online efforts, it’s prudent that you keep your website up-to-date. I will tell you how to do this, without breaking the bank.
The first question that hits you is ‘what do I write?’ Visitors to your website come looking for information about what you have to offer. Like you would put up a grand display of freshly baked cakes on the shop shelf, you need to put up updated information on your website.
Start with a short description of your business and that unique advantage that is at the heart of it. e.g. You could be making plum cakes made from grape wine, made in-house using a 100 year old recipe that has been handed down from your great grand-mother to your mother and to you.
Alternately you can write on the challenges faced by bakers in getting the right flavor using different ingredients. Think of as many things to write about your business and the industry – in this case, plum cakes made of wine. You can put up articles on different types of cakes, which includes information on plum cake made from wine. You could even add articles on various topping that go with these cakes and ways to decorate them using sugar and cherries.
If writing an article challenges you, get a professional copy writer to do that for your business.
Videos and pictures:
When it comes to engaging your audiences, videos and pictures do a great job. Intersperse the text with beautiful images. Don’t feel shy to click pictures of the yummy cake you baked today. Use that 4 megapixel camera in your hand phone if you like. And most importantly, don’t forget to tag the images while uploading to your website. Tagging is nothing but labeling the picture with words that your customers would search for. Eg. Plum cake, cherries, wine etc.
You might even want to shoot a 3 minute video of your baking area, showcasing the special equipment you use. This will thrill your users, especially female customers who would like to see what appliances you use. Also, it’s a great way of showing how hygienic and well maintained your kitchen is. You can also shoot a 1 minute video on how to make topping cream from sugar. Now, that’s not giving away anything from your skills, but it will make sure that the viewers will come back to your website, often to see what more you have to tell.
Add Links from other sites:
Next you might ask ‘What more can I do?’ The answer is simple. Copy. Yes, simply copy links to interesting articles, related to the subject, from other websites that you think are credible. You can add a small paragraph with your views on the article. These links could also be regarding what’s in the news related to your field. This is the easiest content to find on a regular basis. You could create a separate section titled ‘Latest news’. Same goes for related videos from other video websites that you can embed on your site.
If your business has been in the news for some good reason, it’s time to put up the press coverage from known publications on your site. It will only help grow the popularity of your business.
You know that the holiday season is around the corner and there are festivals coming up. You can create special offers for these occasions and announce them on your website. Over time, you can get your customers to subscribe to these offers on a regular basis. While choosing a website template, ensure that it includes this functionality.
Social Media sharing tools:
It’s always good to allow users to share your content with their social circles on multiple social networking sites and micro blogging sites such as Facebook , Twitter, Rediff’s Zarabol and MyPage and among others. It only helps spread the word about your brand at absolutely no cost. Make sure website template provides these tools. If you are actively blogging on micro-blogging sites like Twitter, you can embed the same on your website.
Email address and contact:
Finally, you need to have a prominent email address and contact number apart from physical address on your website. Remember that a professional sounding email address, i.e. an email address that uses your business name, lends a great deal of credibility eg. email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Please avoid using a free webmail address. If you are using one, you might want to check out affordable email solutions from internet portals like Rediff, Google and Yahoo.
Website accessible across devices:
You might have noticed your customers walking into your outlets with fancy smartphones and tablets in their hands. Yes, you got it right. They are using the internet on these mobile devices and your site needs to appear just the same on these devices as it does on the personal computer. So get a website template such that your site works the same across devices.
So it’s all about choosing the right website template which you can manage on your own. Getting a web developer to make a website for you can cost a bomb. And yet, you may end up with a flashy website that you are not able to make any changes to.
Where will you find a good website solution? If you look around, you may find many alternatives. There is the generic Word Press blogging platform. However you will have to find a web host and buy a domain name separately. Linking it is another task and you might need some help with it. Then there’s Google’s India Get Your Business Online service. However, the service is free for the first year, post which you have to pay for it. Recently Rediff.com has launched Rediffmail PRO which is a business email solution that provides business email ids on your own domain for as little as Rs.799 per year, and you get a free domain, a free website and a mobile application for checking the mail online. There are also other options like GoDaddy and Net4. You could check out all these options and select the one that suits you the best. When you have created the website, do drop me a line. I would love to hear about your business.