Regular readers of GS Magazine may remember an article about website design and the development of the gsmagazine.co.uk website. The GS site has continued to develop and now offers the GS Suppliers’ Directory, a searchable online buyers’ guide, and an online subscription facility for the magazine. Of course building a website is only really the first step in implementing online marketing communications. Once you have your website built you then need to ensure it is as visible as possible and drive visitors to it. This article will look at the tools available to you to ensure you reap the rewards, and the potential high return on investment, of your online presence.
Website Conversion Rate Optimisation
You can think of your website as your sales hub, a tool to convert interest into sales or to achieve another defined objective. The rate at which this occurs is the ‘Conversion Rate’, and every business website should be designed to maximise this Conversion Rate. Buttons, banners, text links and suggestive copy all help to guide your visitors to where you want them to go. On the GS site, for example, we’ve added an animated advert to encourage subscriptions.
Search Engine Optimisation
Websites can be designed and built in such a way as to make them particularly useful to Google. If Google can scan your website easily, and your site proves that it is relevant to specific search terms or keywords, they will rank you higher up the list of results for those keywords. A few quick tips to improve your search results include:
- Carefully work out your important keywords
- Don’t use Flash for your main site and navigation, search engines can’t read it!
- Ensure you have Descriptive and Keyword ‘meta-tags’ in your site (ask your designer to check)
- Use relevant keywords in your written copy
- Get as many RELEVANT links as possible to your site
- Update your site content as much as possible to keep it fresh
The other way to ensure you appear on the Google search results is to use Google Adwords, a form of Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC). Google Adwords are the little adverts that appear on the right hand side of Google search results. PPC simply means you pay each time somebody clicks on your advert. How much you pay depends on how much your competitors pay, and how popular you are for that keyword search result. Also, the more you pay influences where you appear in the list of adverts. When you set up a Google Adwords campaign you select keywords that generate the appearance of your advert. For GS Magazine we want to attract people interested in hotel design publications, so some of our keyword choices include terms such as ‘hotel design magazine’. It’s a good idea to be specific and targeted with your choice of keywords to maximise the effectiveness of your budget.
Communicating directly with your customers with email can be a very effective method of encouraging visitors to your website. Email works best when it integrates with your website by providing links to the website that then converts the visitor to a sale. Building your own email list of people who are interested in what you do (they ‘opt-in’ to receive your emails) generates the best results.
Each of these techniques can be accurately measured and regularly fine-tuned to improve results. Remember, all of these marketing tools work best together so don’t ignore any of them. In today’s tough economic environment an effectively implemented internet marketing strategy could make all the difference between success or failure.
Case Study – Alexander Hotels
Ignite Hospitality Consultants have implemented these techniques for Alexander Hotels, a collection of three luxury country house hotels South of London. Over the last couple of years Ignite have developed the website to ensure it is perfectly optimised for converting sales, even running online tests to determine which version of the website home page generated the most desirable visitor actions. An Online Shop selling hotel and spa gift vouchers has recently been launched which will enable emails to be sent with links directly to the shop making it extremely easy for customers to make a purchase. Tracking codes are placed throughout the sales funnel to ensure that any weaknesses are quickly improved.
To attract customers to the website considerable thought has gone into Search Engine Optimisation and a wide range of techniques have been successfully implemented, resulting in first page search results for broad, unbranded keyword terms such as ‘spa hotel Kent’. Google Adword campaigns have also been used to ensure visibility for a broad selection of keywords.
Email campaigns are sent on a regular basis to promote offers, gift vouchers and package deals generating immediate returns on investment of up to 4000%, a £1000 spend generating £40,000 in direct sales!
First published in GS Magazine Feb 2010