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By Rodrigo Jimenez

Graphic appeal can enhance the impact of content, but cannot make up for lack of content. Content will carry the day 99.9% of the time.

Be an Extension of the Company’s Offline Operations
The Web site should represent the company’s offline operations and be strategically linked to offline activities.

You just cannot have an isolated team or person working on the Web site’s content. You have to have multi-functional, multi-departmental input. Not to say that the Web site should be managed by committee. Ideally, you need a person responsible for making decisions and accountable for results. That person should possess access to key departments and managers, so the Web site reflects the right product marketing, sales, and corporate communications messages.

The Luxury Alliance The Luxury Alliance is a good example of effectively being an extension of the group’s offline operations. The Luxury Alliance is a strategic marketing partnership of preeminent brands that individually hold leadership positions in the hospitality industry and collectively set the standard for the ultimate in luxury travel. As such, the organization is comprised of several companies.
Luxury Alliance approached each participating company, similar to how a company may have each department represented and reflected on the Web site. The Web site team is in constant touch with the members on offerings, incentives, and other messages to make sure the effectiveness of each member’s online presence through The Luxury Alliance is maximized.

Be “Living Organisms”

Just like the company, which is always changing, promoting, creating, hiring, so should the Web site.

Wine and brandy age well, Web sites, to the contrary, do not. So, make your Web site dynamic.

Before embarking on changing the current site, we suggest some thought be given to how the revised Web site will be kept evolving. A process of monthly content updates, at the very least, should be put in place. This commitment to updating content on a regular basis can be leveraged to drive traffic to the Web site through automatic e-mail notices sent to registered visitors to notify them of relevant changes, for example.

Work Properly

Constant change requires constant audits for errors. The Web makes very difficult to recover from an error message or broken function. Once a consumer or client encounters an error, that’s it. That interaction is unrecoverable at that point. As opposed to the same situation at the brick and mortar store, the Web gives you no ability to react quickly to offer alternatives or even an apology.

Errors can easily translate into lost customers forever and/or more business for the competition.

Be Search Engine Optimized

While not allocating enough resources to content, change, evaluation, and identification of user needs are all common problems; the opposite can be true of pay-per-click search engine advertising. Too many companies start spending money on this traffic-driving tactic without properly preparing the site for that traffic. Pay-per-click advertising allows you to quickly bring qualified visitors to your site. But, as mentioned above, if those visitors do not find what you promised, or what they expect, your campaign will quickly become a money loser.

It is also important to remember that a majority of the clicks to a site still come from what are called “natural” or “organic” listings. Good organic rankings are not achieved without planning and some effort, and they do take time to show results. However, it is important to invest in the search engine optimization of your site early on so that you improve the overall ROI of your traffic-driving investments.

Be Engaging

Even if you can get visitors to your site, the trick is getting visitors to do what you want them to do once they are there. One way to achieve this is by creating an intuitive navigational path toward the behavioral outcome desired.

Rodrigo Jimenez is the President and CEO of Whiteboard Labs.
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