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I often see companies and professionals working hard to build an online presence and then, once the site is done, everything stops.

With approximately 1 billion Internet sites in the world in 2013, it is clear that getting a website online is important, but you won’t be alone on the Web.

I often tell my clients that investing time and money in creating a website that represents your company is similar to developing a corporate brochure (the comparison is not related to the amount of work, but more about the use of both tools in the development of your company's sales). Simply putting the website online is equivalent to keeping your corporate brochure in your warehouse!

For a corporate brochure to be effective it must be distributed to potential customers by a variety of means such as targeted direct mailings, trade shows, networking, information events, etc ... Nothing will come from the fact that you developed it if you do not put it in the hands of your potential clients. 

The same can be said for your website. Merely putting online will not generate traffic automatically unless you put strategies in place that will develop your audience.

What are these strategies?

There are several: optimizing the website for search engines, using banners, pay-per-click promotions, including your web address on your business cards, etc..   

Then there are three other strategies that I love to do with my clients because they produce very good results. 
1 - Make your website a destination
2 - Be active on Social Media
3 - Transform your customers into ambassadors

Here is a little more about each of the strategies:

1- Make your website a destination  
For me, this strategy is the cornerstone of everything that needs to be done on the Internet: make your website essential. How? By ensuring that it is alive, and that it provides information not only on your business, but your market, your employees, promotions, club memberships etc. Such strategies are numerous and essential. Why? To stay in people's heads. The problem with a static site (which does not change its content over time) is that you can employ many strategies to make it known, but unless the timing is amazing (people get to know your site at the same time they have identified a need that you are able to fill), they may not go back and when the need occurs, you may not be the first option that comes to mind. By making your site a destination, you create content, you constantly update your website, you encourage people to come and stay connected and even tell their friends and relatives. This is one of the main advantages of online marketing; it is easier to activate word of mouth.

Once this segment of your strategy is done, you can move on to the other two dimensions to further your Internet reach.

2- Be active on Social Media
Here it is important to match the selected social media with your customer profile. If you are a lawyer and you want to get yourself known? Information capsules on LinkedIn can be effective. If you are a dentist, Facebook can be a good social network, etc.. But it is important not to promote only your products and services. It is important to get known by creating a buzz. And one of the best ways of doing this is by distributing free information or organizing contests/events on a regular basis. You will be wasting your time if you start for a few months and then stop.  You must persevere.

3- Transform your customers into ambassadors
Do your customers know about all the products and services you are offering? Do they receive regular communication, informing them of your new products, promotions and successes stories? Why is it so important? At first, few customers know the full extent of your offering; a commercial relationship is established for a particular need and when the transaction is completed, the customer does not have to go back to the supplier. However, if he is satisfied, he may be more ready to further his commercial relationship provided he is made aware of the full range of goods or services you offer. Furthermore, if he enjoyed his experience, he will talk about it. And providing him with communication tools that make it easier for him to talk about it (by simply clicking, for example) means that your information and promotions can be easily shared - as long as the content is value-added.

In conclusion, get your website out of the closet and get it ??into the hands of the right people. This is the best way to have your name pop up when people need to find it.

Have a great day!

Stéphane Elmaleh-Riel, B.Ed., MBA
Marketing consultant