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Eight Tips for Creating a More Compelling Web Site (Marketing Memo, August, 2005)

Many companies launched their Web sites 5-10 ten years ago and now find that their sites have expanded and become less effective. Here are eight tips to make your Web site fresher and more compelling.

  • Review your Web strategy regularly: Make sure that your Web site enhances your overall marketing program. Convey consistent messages in all marketing material. If you have changed target markets, product pricing, or customer support policies, make sure that your Web site and all of your marketing materials reflect these changes. Whenever you add new material to your Web site, make corresponding changes to "legacy" print materials.
  • Periodically weed out content: Many organizations have content management software that allows multiple authors to add material to their Web sites. However, more is not necessarily better. Eliminate redundant, conflicting, or dated information. To avoid overwhelming visitors and to show case individual brands, Procter & Gamble has given its 80+ individual brands their own Web sites.
  • Include a comprehensive site map: Without a detailed site map, visitors may not find the links they want and may not be able to keep track of where they have already searched. However, if you have both a product section and a solutions or applications section, make sure to show the relationship between the two sections. NMS Communications has a table that relates its solutions to its products.
  • Make sure your search box adds value: A good search box is linked to a database with some depth, uses standard search techniques, and is fast. The search box on the Hewlett-Packard web site helps visitors rapidly browse a large, overwhelming site.
  • Impart stickiness or staying power: Give visitors reasons to continue browsing, such as uncluttered, readable pages; well-written, relevant text; and clear, jargon-free language. Make sure that if visitors click on the "Back" button, they do not get bumped from the site.
  • Test how your Web site displays and prints using different systems and monitors. Make sure that the whole page displays and that printers do not truncate text. For future reference, on each page include your URL in the text or as a footer.
  • Personalize your Web site: Some Web sites are hermetically sealed with no access to real people. List current executives and provide short biographies. Include one or more email addresses for named individuals so that prospects and others may reach marketing communications or other company representatives. Hewlett-Packard's Web site provides CEO Mark Hurd's email address! However, if you provide email addresses of employees, this information must be current, and someone must be responsible for responding to email messages within 24-48-hours.
  • Add a bonus: Many Web sites offer free articles and white papers or questionnaires that help visitors select the right product. VFA Inc.'s Web site includes a resource page with links to organizations, magazines, and other resources that serve its facilities management niche.
  • Building a web site is a great way to communicate with customers, partners, and prospects, but it is a task that is never finished. You cannot post a Web site and wait for results. Web sites need ongoing tending. Conducting a quarterly review is a good idea.

Let us help you evaluate Web sites, write white papers or case studies, or conduct market research.

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