Online Branding: Why Bother?
In the early days of the internet, when there were relatively few websites, companies could easily get away with no online presence whatsoever. The internet was still a novelty, and few people spent much time on the internet. This, of course, has changed. With the advent of high-speed internet technology, as well as quality data streaming methods, people are spending more time than ever on the World Wide Web.
While the average person still spends nearly twice as much time watching television (about 30 hours per week) than surfing the web (about 18 hours per week), the gap has been steadily closing over the past decade or so. Furthermore, it looks as though it will only continue to close, with websites beginning to offer streaming of individual television shows. This provides the internet user with something cable subscriptions cannot provide: television “on demand” and with little commercial interruption.
As potential customers start to look away from print and towards the internet for information, the phrase “brand visibility” is steadily being redefined. Branding is all about staying in the public’s consciousness, after all, and so if the eyes are looking on the internet, not having a solid web presence means having a hole in your marketing scheme. As people spend more time on the internet, that hole will be widening.
In a survey conducted by media research group Initiative, 40% of those surveyed claim they will not buy a brand if they can’t find enough and the right kind of information about it on the internet. This means that even if you have a solid brand presence, developed through traditional methods (such as the Yellow Pages), there is now a significant number of people who still would not trust your brand: not because they heard a friend say something bad about your company, but because they couldn’t find your website.
Presenting Your Brand to the Internet in Two Easy Steps
While some of those figures seem rather scary—particularly the one which threatens lost sales if you don’t say what web browsers want to hear—the truth is that there are two very simple things you can do for your company’s website to satisfy the researching public.
- Be a No-Pressure Website
The reason most people like to do their research online is actually very simple: The internet seems like an unbiased place to get information. In just a few keystrokes, they can find customer reviews, rip-off reports, DIY advice, answers to questions they might have—the list goes on and on.
As a result, nothing will drive customers away from your website faster than an overt sales pitch. Obviously, some sales language will go into your website, in order to direct interested customers towards the buy; however, a website which seems constructed wholly to this end tends to make your company look as though it is hiding something.
This is where things like blogs, news posts and free information can really make your website stand out. By offering content to the visitor which is related to what your company does, you set yourselves up as experts in your field, and provide the visitor with a more engaging web experience. If you can teach your visitors something about your field, they will probably become more receptive to buying your services when they come to need them. By emphasizing information over sales, you provide a better user experience, and as a result increase the chances of a visitor becoming a customer.
- Update your Website
The average internet user today absolutely cannot stand a website which never updates. This lack of updating tends to make the owner of the website look inactive, even if all of the basic information for conducting business (hours, location, contacts) is easily accessed. A good brand has a message, and developing an online presence is about conveying that message through frequently-updated content. No matter what your industry is, visitors to your website want to read information about it, as well as information about the people who work for your company. The former provides your company with the expertise necessary for visitors to consider hiring you, while the latter makes your company seem more personal.
Starting with just these two simple tips, it is possible to create a reputable web presence over time. In today’s internet-savvy and information-thirsty culture, that strong web presence is exactly what your company needs to maximize its business.