The Elusive Reality of Effective Website Marketing

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    I just had a discussion with a prospective client about phone books. Remember those? Now we use them as monitor stands or booster seats for our kids. At my home and at Marketpath they typically go straight to the recycling bin. My environmentally friendly side cries a little each time.

    A Yellow Pages ad was fairly simple and straightforward, albeit expensive. We'd put together a simple description of the services or products and a straightforward call to action like "Call Now". Once placed, there was nothing else to do. We just crossed our fingers that people would call or visit our store.

    The Delusion of Getting Found

    Search engines quickly replaced the phone book as the go to source for business information. In 1999, the year after Google launched, it saw 3.5 million searches per day. In 2012, that jumped to 3.8 billion searches per day. The increasing importance of the search engine was obvious and unavoidable.

    Fast forward over the last 10-15 years and you'll see that being found on the Internet is one of the most important factors in marketing, if not the most important. But we no longer have a static ad, placed where we want, at the size we want, and with the colors we want. That was easy. We didn't have to market the phone book or distribute it or follow specific tactics for people to find us, other than paying for an ad that stood out. The only tactic was how big and what to show.

    Now we have a website with an obscure URL that is hidden from plain view until the right combination of tactics are executed to boost its findability. Those tactics are what most small businesses get wrong or simply ignore. There is no "Builid it and they will come" magic formula. Sorry. Your beautiful new site, as user friendly and appealing as it may be, has no value until people can find it.  For most businesses, though, getting found can be relatively easy and straightforward and does not have to consume an enormous amount of our time. We simply need a plan and a little discipline. 

    Getting to Your Website

    Visitors may use one of the primary routes below to arrive at a website:

    1. Search Engines
    2. Social Sites
    3. Banner and Text Ads
    4. Directory Sites
    5. Email Marketing
    6. Direct URL Entry
    7. Other Referring Sites

    Keeping these seven routes in mind, we can devise a plan to increase the visibility of our site. Each route requires different tactics. But they all have one foundational task in common - content.

    Content Eludes Us

    Why do people visit our site? Because something peaks their curiosity or interest. That something might be a blog post, white paper, case study, infographic, video, or podcast. Generally speaking, it's content. The single most important factor in any online marketing initiative is content. Without it, our efforts are dead in the water.

    So we have to write blog posts and case studies. We have to produce videos. We have to create captivating graphics. Content, especially relevant, engaging, and regular content, drives search engine visibility, drives social sharing, and provides the basis for email marketing.

    Yet, many of us start strong and stall quickly. Just like a small stream can carve a huge riverbed by continuously flowing, so too can a constant stream of quality content. A dead content marketing effort results in dead visibility. Don't be dead.

    We have to approach it the same way we approach exercise. We may not want to do it but carving out small blocks of time a few times a week can have a dramatic impact on our overall well being.

    Regular Execution

    If your content marketing has stalled take a few minutes this week to review your initial plan. If you don't have one, build one. Then follow the guidelines below:

    • Keep a list of potential blog or white paper topics. Here's a start: 6 Blog Topics You Can Use Today or check out this list. These will come in handy when you can't come up with a topic on the fly.
    • Carve out one hour at least three times a week to create content or review content produced by others
    • If you truly do not have the time or skill set, delegate to a co-worker, employee, or hire an outside firm to do the content marketing for you.
    • Post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and other social sites that encourage sharing with each newly created content piece. Learn more with these social media blog posts.
    • Measure the results of your efforts regularly so you can make adjustments. Check out this blog post to help you get started.

    You simply can't improve your website visibility and engagement overnight. You need to maintain a regular course of action by producing quality and engaging content.

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    About the Author

    Matt Zentz

    Matt Zentz launched Marketpath from a small Broad Ripple bungalow in February 2001 with a focus on custom web application development. He built the first, basic version of a hosted CMS called Webtools and shortly afterward expanded his team and created the first version of Marketpath CMS.

    Matt has worked for a national consulting firm, taught computer programming to high school juniors and seniors , and led the information technology arm of the auxiliary business units at Indiana University.

    Matt graduated from Indiana University in 1999 with a B.S. in Computer Science and has built custom web applications since 1995. Matt is husband to an amazing & supportive wife, has three beautiful children, supreme master to Archimedes (Archie) the dog, and mostly tolerant victim of 2 flying rats (cockateils).

    He coaches various kid sports, enjoys furniture and home renovation projects, and plays guitar and piano. Matt is also active with his church as a parishioner, technical advisor and board member on the festival committee.

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