In November of 2010, I heard another marketer say, “It is no longer a question of whether you should be on Facebook, but rather, if it is necessary to have a Website any more.”
While I agree that 90+% of businesses would be wise to also be on Facebook, I disagree that it is not necessary to have a Website anymore. Your Website is your “commercial “branch office to the world.” It is essential and critical for your business, as your Website contains your sales copy, domain, forms, shopping cart, credentials, testimonials and databases. People expect to buy from a Website. Without a Website it would be kind of like not having a sales desk in your brick and mortar store. Online, a business is expected to have a nice Website with good design and usability, fast loads and an easy to follow content navigation scheme. This is where you’ll make sales. And let’s not forget Search, which isn’t dead yet. If you want to be found in Google and Bing, you greatly increase the probabilities by having a Website. Your Website should be optimized also. You develop your site and content for the user but you need to optimize it so you can put your best foot forward for the search engines. You also need to promote your Website by gaining links and mentions of your domain and business name online in blogs, forums, other sites, reviews and key directories.
Once your site is solid, you’re ready to add social media marketing, like starting a blog, Twitter, Facebook and making videos for You Tube. These social arenas are best used for additional discovery, branding, announcements, potentially buzzworthy and viral content and community building, as well as for other “non-commercial” aspects of growing your business. People who find you in search have their buying defenses up as they are likely comparison shopping and browsing. People who discover your brand via social media probably did so because you gave them something helpful or useful or informative for free, without asking them to buy from you, or because a mutual friend re-tweeted or shared your content with others. When these social friends and followers then discover your Website, they enter with their buying defenses down, as you have already gained some of their trust via a social introduction on line. With good social added to good Website optimization, your conversions and sales should improve also.
So, yes, do have a solid Website to facilitate your sales online, find a search engine optimization expert, to do your research and content optimization, start blogging (I’ve always recommended WordPress) and get busy on some key social media sites so you can build trust and establish your expertise and authority online. Find a social media marketing expert to help you set up and maintain your Facebook advertising and to coach you on social marketing strategies and best practices.
Search marketing has it’s place. You want to be found when people search for your business or related phrases and a solid, problem free, optimized Website is definitely your best option. You want to be present and findable in social media also and in an engaging way that is not “commercial” in nature. With this type of plan in motion, you will succeed sooner.