13 Web "DO's" for 2003 ... and beyond
In 1999 I pulled
together a collection of "Do's and Don'ts" for your web site. It's time for an update.
For the vast majority
"business as usual" is still happening. And will. For a while longer. Oh sure,
the web is becoming more important - it has not taken over. Yet.
My earlier article said this:
" . . . in less than half a generation
-- 10 years from the time the
Web really took off, you had better be in line. What I am saying
if you are not involved with the Web as a marketing and business
tool by 2004, or sooner, you will be leaving money on the
Generally, I still believe this. Yet, before I begin this
laundry list ... a side note:
Some of you reading this should NOT have a Web site!
What? Yes, just as some
of you are not on television or using radio, many of
you are not using outdoor posters or bus cards, some of you
should not be on the
World Wide Web.
Heresy, you say. The Web
is "the" door for everyone to walk through. It makes
us equal. It offers more opportunities and benefits than any
My response; Hog wash!
The WWW, as a marketing tool, is nothing more than another way to communicate your message to your marketplace. For
many of us it is wonderful. For some it is not today
-- and may not be tomorrow
-- for you.
Still, if you are on the
web, or will be soon, I've created a marketing list of
13 DO's. If you have a site you may find several of these
thoughts useful. If you are yet to join the revolution, you may wish to take
WWW Idea #1: DO know the WWW isnow ready for prime
Audio and video and
everything in color is here. For home and business.
High speed is here. Not everywhere - still, if you live in a
place of 100,000 or more you probably have your choice of several Internet
Service Providers (ISPs) who offer speed. For a price. The web has grown up -
and done so much faster than any tool ever invented by we humans.
Yet, interestingly, your audience still expects a selection,
just as they always have;
a). meaningful content - quickly presented and easy to
b). interactive content --
although for some this is waaaay down
the priority list, more and more like some "action" online
c). an opportunity to participate
-- meaning at a minimum e-mail,
maybe a survey,and a reason to return to your
It's unlikely these ideas are going to change. As each is a
"people" thing. For both business and consumer marketers, you'll be wise to
remember it is people who buy what you sell.
WWW Idea #2: DO adopt and adapt traditional Direct Response
The single biggest
mistake is thinking the Web is "different". And thus
forgetting -- or
ignoring -- Direct Marketing basics.
The principles. Do not do that. Please don't do that.
Aim your message to the right audience. Present a sound offer.
Offer value. Understand timing. Know that featureswith benefits sell.
And that brand and image DO make a difference.
Present DM principles on
the Web as you do in other media. Mail, print, broadcast.
They apply equally in this "new" medium, too.
WWW Idea #3: DO make it easy to "see" your site
seconds to capture your audience. Period!
You may think this is a such a basic, a slam-dunk, it's not
important to include. I think it is still very important. Why? Because, even
today, not everything happens at the speed of light. And remember ... with
direct mail you have only 2-3 seconds to grab the reader.
In print it's less than 4 seconds ... for newspapers and
magazines. And between 12-15 seconds on an outbound telemarketing call.
Web sites that take too
long to load lose. So, being "creative" is AOK
-- as long
as you include substance. Meat and potatoes. Useful knowledge.
With graphics that are quick, clean, clear ... andfast!
Audiences today are VERY
impatient. And because there is so much choice on
the Web, if you fail to be good quickly, you fail! Your
competition will get your business.
WWW Idea #4: DO build your site with foresight
-- think ahead
-- think tomorrow.
As with any marketing
effortCThink, Plan & Organize.
The Web has many
"moving" parts. It is growing and changing constantly. Just like
the "other" children in your life. And just as fast, too.
First, know your
objectives. Know where you have been before your Web
presence. Know where you are today. And know where you are
going. As in sport, politics, manufacturing and most endeavors, you must plan
ahead. Today you must think about tomorrow.
Have a plan. Write it in "pencil" ... as youwill
change it. Still, without a plan you'll have nothing to change. Think ahead.
WWW Idea #5: DO design your site to be interesting
This relates to Idea #3.
Yet, it is more than speed.
Make your site easy for your audience to find. To use. To get
around, to understand. And to return to.
A Web site should not be
a chess match. With a zillion options and a path that
wiggles in a "S" fashion. Instead, make your message clear.
Allow your audience to dig in and find what's important for them.
An internal search engine is almost mandatory. A clean
navigation bar, most often in more than one place, with degrees of detail,
Remember, you are not trying to win
-- you are trying tomake
WWW Idea #6: DO think traditional creative ... with a web
The Web is marketing tool when I write about it. Meaning
tradition wins out over inventive. Or "new" for the sake of new.
The Web is a way for you to get, to keep, to service and sell a
customer. It is another venue for you. And for your prospect and client, too.
The WWW is a
delivery system. It delivers news, information, knowledge.
It delivers services and products. It delivers convenience and
customer service. Fast - yes. Better, only maybe. Different, absolutely.
All of which meanseveryone involved
with your Web objectives MUST
be involved from the beginning. And stay involved thought-out
the process. So your delivery is what it needs to be. This means management,
marketing, creative and the techy folks making it happen.
Remember ... your Web site is not "creative"
-- it is marketing.
WWW Idea #7: DO spread your creativity around
Sure, your Home Page and
Splash Page are important. It's what your audience
sees first. So, it must be interesting
-- it may need to be creative to be
Yet, "inside" is
important, too. Until you know better, ALL elements are
equally important. ALL!
Why is this so? Because
you do not know where your marketplace will dive
first. History, over time, will teach you things. Still
-- share your creativity within each
section, each page. Spread it around.
My favorite marketing word is "interesting". Because, if it's
not interesting your prospect will never become a customer. Be creative
WWW Idea #8: Yes, DO be creative ... and make your unique
ideas abenefit to your readers
"Shock" for the sake of
shock is not the point. "Creative" and "unique"
must perform. Have a reason for their being.
One way to be both
creative and offer benefits is with short bursts of ideas. Bits
of knowledge, meshed with a sound offer. Presented
"interestingly". So your reader has a reason to return. Again and again.
Much like comic strips
in newspapers. The good ones keep you "hooked" so
you'll come back to them again and again. Ditto the serial
movies run Saturdays in theaters across America pre-television. And today
similar to the afternoon soap operas
on television. There is always a reason to return.
That's real creativity
... getting people to visit you over and over. Again and again.
WWW Idea #9: DO offer what you sell ... sell what you offer
"Sell" may not always be
an exchange involving money. It may be an inquiry,
a question, a request for more information, a soft response.
Do on your Web site what
you do in all your advertising, public relations,
sales promotion, merchandising and marketing. If you sell nuts
and bolts, present nuts
and bolts. If you sell financial services, share those services.
Sell the value you
offer. Not what you might do next --
instead what you do
now. Remember delivery, mentioned earlier? Deliver!
Your WWW site should
compliment, not compete, with what you already do.
For max results it must "work with" all your marketing.
WWW Idea #10: DO learn, Learn, LEARN!
The Web is so new there
are no experts. There are many, many opinions.
Today the Web is a
teaching tool as well as a marketing medium. So, learn, learn,
learn. Study, read, listen. Try anything that makes common
And always remember
"there are no failures, only lessons". When you're down,
success will come from getting up and starting again.
Do whatever you do
again. And again. Yes, learn, Learn, LEARN!
WWW Idea #11: DO know that yesterday it was, today it is, &
tomorrow the WWW will be a "read" tool
Although changes happen
rapidly, today the WWW is more text than graphics
when it comes to marketing and sales.
This will not always be
the case -- today the Web is for
reading. At least until it
changes in a wholesale way --
which will definitelynot be before the magical half generation year of
2004. So, you must write to be read.
Know how surfers read.
Here's what they tell us about what they expect when
they get to your Web site:
... an easy entry and easy to get about,
... crisp, clean, clear
language and message,
... a few sound choices,
... a meaningful offer,
and ... thatyou
will fulfill your promises - promptly.
WWW Idea #12: DO present a "seamless" message
What you do everywhere
you do on the Web, too. When it comes to presenting
your message to be read ... follow these basics and win on the
a). tell your story in words ... it is copy that
b). present your message in short bursts, with
short sentences, short paragraphs
c). keep your graphics "simple", as a strong
support to your text
d). "demonstrate" your product & service with
stories & examples
e). ask for something to happen, urge action,
request a response
f). recognize privacy IS an issue - use common
sense in gathering
and using data of all types
g). it's NOT an option ... offer superior
follow-up & back-end
h). avoid "cob-webs" ...keep your site up to
date, in synch with the
times and your marketplace, "anticipate" and make
I). set a schedule so your readers know what to
expect from you,
and when - this guy recommends weekly-updates.
WWW Idea #13: DO know these to be facts
-- be ready for the opportunity
These are "facts". Know
them. And plan to be in position to take advantage
of opportunities now and deep into this new 21st Century:
* today everyone has a "snail-mail" box
* today nearly everyone has a "wireless" radio
* today almost everyone has a telephone, pager,
beeper - or all
* today most people have local television, cable,
satellite - or all
And very soon ... in YOUR lifetime ...everyonewill
have an E-mail address and be surfing the World Wide Web.
Know this ... and all 13 Web "DO's" for this first decade of the
21st . Get ready!