What You Should Expect from Your Web Site
If your Web site is e-commerce driven and you would like to sell more, it can be quite easy to set goals and expectations for your Web site: you simply want to move more units of whatever you are selling. Consumers are growing increasingly comfortable with the idea of buying commodity products online. As such, marketers can reasonably expect that their product (assuming it is a desirable one) will sell online.
That expectation is not a stretch for those Web sites that sell “widgets”–commodity products like books, air conditioner filters, and office supplies. And the performance of those sites can be measured fairly easily by tracking volume and growth of both units sold and/or revenue. But the idea of expectations and measurement become more difficult when the product or service is more complex and/or when customers are less comfortable buying it online.
Many companies have a more complex offering that those that simply require a user to enter a credit card number and click ‘order.’ These include professional services firms like architecture and accounting firms, risk management consultants, executive recruiters, and law firms. Most Web surfers wouldn’t commission an architecture project on a Web site any more than they would hire an attorney out of a catalog. These buying decisions and processes are far more complex than buying a bestseller online–they require multiple meetings, personal trust, thorough research, and a lengthy estimating process.
While these transactions can’t be expected to occur online, there are many other ways that the Web site should be able to help. Just because someone will not buy your product online does not mean that a marketer should have no expectations at all. So while a professional services marketer may dismiss Internet marketing because money does not show up online, there are many valuable expectations that s/he might have. In these cases, marketers should expect that the Web site would:
- Generate new leads online by allowing clients to fill out online contact forms to start the selling process.
- Help prospects qualify your firm by presenting the size, stature, and heritage of the firm.
- Familiarize prospects with a firm’s key personnel by profiling the firm’s leadership, qualifications, and community involvement.
- Present firm’s capabilities by thoroughly describing products and services.
- Portray accurate picture of the firm’s experience and by listing prominent clients and longevity.
- Stimulate a buyer’s thinking buy describing the firm’s representative engagements from the past.
- Drive referrals with simple tools which allow and encourage current customers to refer the firm to others.
- Position firm as an expert by offering valuable, unbiased business content to your audience written in language that minimizes jargon.
- Capture tomorrow’s buyer’s today by inviting them to subscribe to your email newsletter or to join your social networks.
- Serves as a sales tool for a firm’s personnel to reference in both in-person meetings, conference calls, and email exchanges.
- Facilitates viral referrals through your company’s Twitter or Facebook Fan Page.
There are certainly many more things that you might expect your site to produce for your firm. While this is merely a general list, your particular industry may present many additional opportunities. Spending a few minutes with your business development team may yield further ideas and even more expectations. Please also keep in mind that while this list focuses mostly on business development, there are many other areas (i.e. recruiting) of operation where you might develop tangible expectations.