Marketing is such a big word, and there's so much more things to consider these days, with both online and offline channels competing for your marketing money and customers' attention. The goal of this article is to help a business get started by building a presence online, even before talking about SEO, landing pages or online ads.
Build a website in 30 minutes
It used to take weeks to code a website and deploy it onto the 'world wide web'. For non-IT businesses, setting up a website may still be a big unknown as friends, vendors and 'experts' all weigh in with their opinions on whether you need a custom built site, a blog, a Facebook page or something else.
And here's my opinion - get a Wordpress or Weebly site. It doesn't take long, costs next to nothing, and can get you started with online customer acquisition with just half an hour of building a simple but decent looking site.
Oh, for the other options, here are the pros and cons.
Weebly vs Wordpress Content Management System (CMS)
Weebly is a straight forward drag-and-drop website builder, with a bit more flexibility in custom design than Wordpress. Where Wordpress wins in the sheer number of themes to build pretty sites, Weebly allows the user to move stuff around the website.
The other difference is that a free Wordpress account is sufficient to design a professional site. For Weebly, a basic Pro account removes the branding logo and is essential to designing a proper site. This site uses Weebly, and it hasn't disappointed so far. Your mileage may vary.
The Basic components of a website
Most business websites may have one or more of the following:
Depending on what the business is about, some pages are necessary. For example, an e-commerce website will need a contact page with a hotline and an address for customers to reach the company, even though the transaction is made online. Term and Conditions are also important to define the conditions of sale.
For a services company, a summary of services is useful for customers (and Google!) to learn more about the business. A page about the management team might also help define the corporate identity.
Maintain a blog
This is going to be repeated over and over again in other blog posts. Increasingly, a good SEO strategy involves publishing good content, and there's also a lot of marketing karma in sharing quality information with the rest of the internet. With a blog, you can:
Wordpress and Weebly have their own specialised tools to get a blog up-and-running almost immediately. Using these tools, the user doesn't need to manually create new webpages to write new articles - the blogging tool handles it all.
Purchase a suitable domain name and connect to your website
This is one part of the process that no amount of technical expertise can help. Settling on a domain name may be difficult, as over the course of the past decades of internet technology, apparently the whole of humankind has bought many ideal domain names already!
Just from an SEO-perspective, a domain with relevant keywords inside would be a plus, like this oddly specific Carpenter's Boat Shop site. But even if you don't get the keyword in your domain, there's still other areas to optimise for keywords, so don't worry.
In recent years, ICANN (the corporation that defines these top-level domains 'TLDs') have released new domains like .pro (for professionals), .bank (for banks) and .guru (for, well, gurus), to give new websites a higher chance at getting their desired domain name. The only problem is that these domains are still new, so many internet users might be suspicious of a website that calls itself abc.xyz (go ahead, click and find out who owns it!)
For many businesses, the best options are:
Connecting the domain to the website CMS
Ok, this part is pretty technical and different website CMS like Weebly and Wordpress have detailed instructions to get it done.
Basically, it involves asking your domain registrar, i.e. the guys from whom you bought the domain, e.g. GoDaddy, to change their DNS settings to 'point' to Weebly's (or your hosting service) servers. So for anyone who wants to go to your new domain, GoDaddy would tell that user's browser to go to a specific server where the website resides.
If this is all not making sense, fret not. It's just a few simple steps to get it done on Weebly or Wordpress. If even their instructions don't work out, Weebly has a template for you to email the steps to your domain registrar to get the job done for you. But if you're like me and you just bought a domain, I don't think you'll want to wait for anything longer than 5 minutes to see your new website live with the new domain, eh?
About this blog
Mostly startup and tech stuff. An occasional rant or two. Travel-related articles are published on my other blog.