Proactive web marketing demands a good website

The following is a true, sad story. Congratulations are due to a new website owner involved in business communications. Unfortunately commiserations are also necessary too.

Yesterday one of the many spam e-mail messages I receive only had a 85% spam score as decided by my spam filter software, K9. Could this be a false negative? I hadn’t requested this e-mail message but I checked it out anyway.

It was a very well produced HTML message that was a very inviting invitation to visit a new website. The website came on line November 1st so this message on November 9 was very timely. The website home page when visited had a very similar look to the e-mail message, so I was somewhat impressed. So far, so good.

I’ll come back shortly to what I saw in the website. Later in the day I was searching in iCRIQ, a government database of manufacturing and service companies in Quebec. My search was on some products involved in business communications. I was most surprised to see that the search results now included banner ads. Even more surprising, by coincidence there was a banner ad for the company with the new website.

So first my congratulations to this website owner. So many website owners assume that their website will miraculously bring in sales leads. So many are also disappointed as time passes without results. This particular company realized that you’ve got to be proactive and do some other things as well to help boost the traffic. It will cost time, effort and possibly cash but the ROI (Return on Investment) on this Internet marketing will far outstrip the ROI for other marketing initiatives.

So why did I mention commiserations. Well it’s all to do with that website. You work hard to get visitors so, when they do arrive, they should have a positive experience that encourages them to contact the company. Unfortunately it’s all too easy to make an attractive website, but there are many more skills involved in making a website that generates sales. Let me just mention some of the problems in this case. In Quebec, visitors may be French-speaking or English-speaking. So there was a choice: ‘Français‘ or ‘English‘. I moved my mouse towards the English link but immediately saw only the words ‘Available Soon’. All this effort to get me here and then this let-down. Not a good way of introducing me to the company.

Not to worry, I’m persistent and also French-speaking. So I explored the French web pages. Again many problems surfaced. The biggest is that all the pages are in Frames. So here is outdated technology that will make it very unlikely that search engines will rank the web pages highly for relevant keywords. Human visitors will also have problems in bookmarking web pages or printing them. Then the Usability aspects of the website were not very effective. Visitors might well not know how to move around the website. The screen seemed somewhat cluttered and it was very unclear where to click to move on. Even in French, the Portfolio, an important tool to convince potential clients, was also ‘coming soon’.

Unfortunately this is a true story. This company knew that a website alone was not enough. They did not realize that those essential proactive web marketing activities will only be as effective as the associated website.