It’s not all about your website
Here at Four Lakes we recognise that a website is a means to an end. For virtually all businesses, the ultimate goal is to have enough customers to meet income targets, and a website is a mechanism for attracting new customer and retaining existing ones. Even for the likes of Amazon, the core business is taking orders and fulfilling those orders, and the website is just a means to achieve that goal, albeit a very clever one in many respects.
When we talk to potential customers about websites, we are careful not to sell features that will not add value to the website. Indeed, we have gathered the feature that we consider essential to all businesses into a core package, which in addition to static web pages also includes such present day essentials as search engine submission, sitemap generation, ‘friendly’ URLs, and other goodies.
Beyond the web(site)
To gain maximum exposure for your website, it needs to be publicised in as many ways as you can manage. You can certainly spend lots of money on such things as Adwords (paid advertisements on Google search). But there are many other, free, ways in which you can promote your website and your business too. Whole books have been written on Search Engine Optimisation (getting your website near the top of the search engine rankings for appropriate keywords), which is one very important consideration. One key aspect of SEO is to have links from sites with high Google rankings back to yours, which can be easier said than done. But for the right type of business, there is a means by which you can be associated with one of the highest-ranking websites on the planet – Facebook!
A relatively recent new feature on Facebook is the Fan Page. This is similar to the old Facebook groups, although is designed from the ground up to promote businesses and causes, unlike groups which were subverted to the cause. Fan pages are a great way for most businesses to gain a small patch of Facebook all to themselves, and given the number of people who use Facebook these days, it also opens up a whole new communication channel.
The basic principle is to link your website to your Facebook fan page, and vice-versa. If your website has a blog, then you should also consider cross-posting new blog entries to Facebook too. If, as an individual, you have a lot of friends on Facebook, then you could consider politely asking them to become ‘fans’ of your Facebook fan page, just to give it a kick-start if nothing else. Over time, your customers and potential customers should be made aware of your fan page as a means of keeping up to date with your business.
It’s got to be said that fan pages work best for business to consumer interactions, particularly where you’re looking for repeat custom. We have used this technique very effectively with one of our customers, Mimosa Wine and Tapas Bar in Carlow, Ireland. On their home page is a very prominent link to their Facebook fan page, and of course there is a link on the fan page back to the web site. As the number of fans on the Facebook page grows, there is a corresponding growth in traffic on their website. All of which serves to generate more and more interest in the business. A simple update announcing the return of a popular tapas dish can generate a number of comments on both sites, for instance. More significant events, such as a gig by a local musician, can be very effectively and cheaply advertised via the website and fan page, reducing advertising costs.
Of course, if you want to effectively link your website and fan page together, you need to have a website that is capable of achieving this. Four Lakes specialises in such integrated sites, and can help your business gain extra exposure through this and other online marketing techniques. Contact us now if you want to know more.