Don’t Build a Web Site – Build a Response Site

Choose the best answer to the following question:

The marketing investment I’m making in my Web site is…

  1. a waste of money;
  2. valuable because it’s generating leads or sales for me;
  3. unknown because I’m not really measuring it.

Unfortunately, even in this day of supposedly enlightened e-marketing, too few Web site owners can answer “b” to the above question. That’s because they’ve built a Web site, but not a response site. If a Web site is going to be one of your primary marketing initiatives, it must generate and qualify leads or, even better, generate sales.

For a Web site to be used for lead generation and qualification, it must follow the basic principles of good direct marketing.

Design Your Site to Direct Visitors

Begin with the design of your Web site and its home page. While Web site visitors can jump from place to place freely and randomly, a Web site should still be designed to highlight or emphasize certain areas so that a visitor is drawn to them. The design of a page can assist a visitor in locating offers and finding a Web response form.

One possible way to influence a visitor’s navigational path is to make the most prominent part of your home page a special offer, highlighted by an animated graphic. If it stands out from the rest of the page and leads to a Web response form, the offer could potentially draw a majority of visitors to that area. Another way is to feature a promotional area that makes the same offer to visitors as a current direct mail or direct response advertising campaign. Leveraging the direct marketing offer could potentially enhance response.

Pay Attention to Copy

Good direct marketing copywriting can also improve the effectiveness of a Web site. Direct marketing copy tends to be written in a friendly me-to-you style with a heavy emphasis on benefits. It uses short sentences and an informal structure that makes it easier to read and follow. It makes liberal use of “graphic signals” and eye rests, such as indented paragraphs and bulleted lists.

A good Web site will keep sentences and paragraphs short; use frequent subheads in bold or in color; break copy into sections; use bulleted lists, tables, and indents; and bold or italicize appropriate words and phrases.

Incorporate Direct Marketing Techniques Into Your Web Site

  1. Make it easy for a prospect to locate and gain access to a Web response area.

    Many Web sites either bury the response area or do not even have one. A prominent response area on a Web site, even a simple Web response form, will encourage prospects to identify and potentially qualify themselves. Reinforcing that response area throughout the Web site by providing links across many of your site’s pages will remind prospects of the offer and give them multiple opportunities to respond.

  2. Create a promotional area with special offers.

    Turn your response area into a promotional area featuring special offers that change from time to time. Tie these offers in with direct marketing campaigns by leveraging the copy and graphics used in other media and by “Webifying” the creative for use on your site.

  3. Place an “on-site” banner ad.

    A banner ad is a promotional technique most often used as advertising on other Web sites to draw people to your Web site, but you can also create and place a self-promotional banner ad on your own site — to draw attention to a response area on your site. The banner ad could reinforce a campaign in other media or promote a free offer independently, or it could link to an on-site Web response form.

  4. Offer a free subscription to an email newsletter on your site.

    Email newsletters are really electronic continuity programs that give you the ability to communicate periodically with prospects and customers. You can offer an email newsletter to prospects who provide you with contact information and answer questions on a Web subscriber form. Then build a list of subscribers and send them an email newsletter regularly. Use the email newsletter to convey valuable information, as well as to make offers and further qualify prospects.

  5. Drive traffic to your Web site via traditional media.

    Once you invest in a Web site, be sure to capitalize on its existence. Promote the Web site aggressively, especially if it has informational or educational value. Include your Web site address in all promotions and on business cards. Drive traffic to your Web site using other media. For example, business-to-business marketers are achieving significant success generating Web site traffic by simply mailing an oversized postcard promoting the site to prospects and customers. If you have a special offer of any kind, make that offer on your Web site and promote it in order to drive individuals to the site.

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