Branding a URL

How do you promote a Web site?

Over the past two months, I’ve analyzed this question relative to Fortune 100 brands by reviewing their advertising and promotional materials. Needless to say, I didn’t inspect all advertising developed by these companies. I did, however, form a pretty detailed impression of the methods they use to promote their online presences.

Surprisingly, close to 80 percent of the brands promote their sites without any explanation why consumers should visit. No unique URLs are provided to easily lead consumers to a desired destinations. Home pages confront visitors with hundreds of baffling options.

Only 11 percent of the brands offer a reason to visit their Web sites. Directives such as, “Find more information about our competition on www…” fulfill this function. Ironically enough, the companies that went that far still don’t take the extra step and develop unique sub-URLs to help consumers quickly find their way to the information they require. Instead, they oblige visitors to waste time conducting frustrating searches. Incredibly, only 9 percent of Fortune 100 companies establish sub-URLs, such as, to help visitors directly and easily find information they need.

What works? Are most Fortune 100 companies on track? Hardly. Clearly, the more direct your Web site, the more relevant the information in sub-URLs, and the more persuasive the reasons for visiting, the more effective the site will be in attracting, maintaining, and working for visitors.

The rules are important, yet simple:

  1. When promoting a URL, have a cause. Help consumers understand why they should visit . Will it help them be better at what they’re passionate about? Enable them to purchase products more inexpensively? Learn about things relevant to their lives?

  2. Establish sub-URLs to avoid losing consumers as they travel through the site. Ensure their journey is clear and progress is rapid. You have only six to eight seconds to capture attention before visitors click out.
  3. Supply what consumers expect. If you promise a discount, make that discount the most visible component on the landing page. Don’t make finding it a challenge by up-selling other stuff on your site. Be honest. Be helpful.

The rules are simple. Still, close to 90 percent of companies don’t understand the value of directness over challenge.

Create relevance. That’s what branding’s all about.

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