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Your website may have more power than you think.

Mariah Gillespie (Intern) – September 6, 2009

image As the world turns increasingly towards the internet for almost any possible need–from grocery shopping to buying iPods to finding a soul mate–it's important to keep in mind the vast quantities of content available on the world wide web. In January 2009, the average web-using American went online 62 times, visited 115 domains, viewed 2,580 web pages and spent nearly 75 hours online, according to data from Nielsen Online.

But you can and should use these numbers to your advantage. Since people are already online, all you have to do is direct them to your site, and keep them there. And trust me, you want to. Three of the top four marketing channels for generating quality leads are online: websites, e-mail marketing, and SEO (search engine optimisation). According to a report done by the American Business Media and Forrester Research, 62% of business-to-business marketers said industry specific websites are effective at generating new leads.

Think of your website as a way of fishing for clients. Your bait has to be appealing enough to attract all sorts of fish, and luring them toward your hook is the first step to a successful catch. Will the fish bite, or will he keep swimming along?

Websites are often the first point of contact for potential clients. You only get one shot at a first impression, so you need to make it a good one. The first thing to think about is the overall appearance of your site–is it eye-catching? Are there flashy colours? Can you navigate around easily? Visually attractive websites form a positive impression in users' minds, and this impression sticks–despite any successive negative experiences that may occur. Researchers from Carleton University have found that the brain makes a decision about any given webpage is just 1/20th of a second. You don't have much time to impress, so drawing the customer in straight away is essential.