A small business website is critical to a small business's Internet marketing success. It's your cornerstone in developing an Integrated Internet Marketing strategy.
A small business website is your virtual office on the Internet. You own your small business! You also want to ensure that you own your website. That means you want to own your own URL (Domain name. For example: http://einternetmarketingservices.org is my URL/Domain Name.) A small business website also needs it’s own paid hosting (more on that topic in my next article). The cost of these basic services is surprisingly low if it's managed properly. There are several other advantages to having your own small business website as well! Before I get into those other advantages, first let me put this into perspective as measured against the Customer Lifecycle that was used in the first part of article series. As shown in this diagram you cannot start to drive traffic and attract leads on the Internet without having a location to drive traffic! A website provides that location. So, that is where we have to start... with a small business website. First of all, a small business website allows you to brand your business. When managed as described above, you should automatically get access to professional email accounts. This is a standard feature with most hosting accounts. So, what exactly does this mean? It means that each employee in your small business receives their own professional email account. For example, mine is email@example.com. I have a separate email account set up for “service,” “info,” and my employees all have their own business email account. This is essential for branding and professionalism. And, this can immediately place you in higher regard than your competition. On the other hand, if your competition is using a professional email account, they are positioned better in today's competitive market than your business. While you may use Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail for your personal accounts, it’s time to move into the professional world! Ask yourself this question: if you were looking for a orthodontist for your children who would you trust more, Don_Little6834@hotmail.com or Don@DrLittleOrthodonist.com? In today's market, people want to deal with professionals; and, appearance and perceptions count. Can you afford to overlook these small details? These email accounts are easily set-up within the back office of your hosting account. Furthermore, they can be forwarded to personal email accounts. This is a simple process and one we manage for our clients. Secondly, your small business website needs to be search engine friendly. In other words, it must include the basic fundamental criteria of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of getting found, indexed and, more importantly, ranked by the major search engines. (See: Search Engine Optimization for Small Business Websites.) Every other component of Internet marketing will build upon this premise. This is a process, and it warrants careful attention, testing and occasional updates. In the third part of this series on Integrated Internet Marketing, I will continue the discussion on Small Business Websites. However, this time I will focus exclusively on establishing a domain name and hosting.