by Vishaal S Shah
on Jun 15th, 2010

Three Key Tactics to Ensure ROI for Your Website

To real estate professionals, those three words represent the most important factors for determining the desirability of a property and the success of a business.

Successful business owners understand the value of location, and they will go to great lengths to find the right storefront. They will analyze demographics, map competitors, consider parking access and exterior lighting, ensure adequate transportation routes, and check a multitude of other factors before renting or buying a piece of commercial real estate.

Unfortunately, many business owners do not have the same discipline in building a website. Instead, many companies slap a few Web pages together and expect business to start flowing.

You wouldn’t build your business in the middle of the woods and expect business to flow, right? So unless you’re a lumberjack, it will take a lot more than a website to generate new leads and sales for your business.

For your website to deliver a return on investment, you need an integrated Internet-marketing strategy designed to attract visitors, convert them into leads or sales, and nurture and retain those new leads and customers.

That means quality tactics are essential, including email marketing, paid advertising, landing pages, microsites, search-engine optimization (SEO), and social media.

To simplify what can be a potentially confusing concept, you can group online marketing into three broader tactics: search marketing, conversion marketing, and relationship marketing.

Search Marketing

Step 1: Get out of the woods

The first step after developing a website is to attract new visitors. That means you’ve got to get out of the woods and into the city, where potential customers can easily find you.

Although search engine marketing (paid advertising and SEO) is still an important tactic for driving traffic, the word “engine” is no longer relevant.
That’s because Web users are adopting new search habits, moving away from search-engine queries to nontraditional searches within community forums, blogs, social media, and business directories. Which means marketers must also shift their marketing behavior by adopting new habits for search marketing.

Here is a good way to start:

Optimize your website and submit an XML sitemap to major search engines.
List your website in local and national directories and in other directories that are relevant to your industry.
Create social profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, and post comments on a regular basis.
Write news releases and articles and distribute them to popular blogs and online magazines.
Use direct mail and other traditional marketing to drive visitors to your website or landing pages.

Conversion Marketing

Step 2: Exchange your ax for a chain saw

After you drive visitors to your website using the search-marketing tactics above, the next step is to convert them into customers or leads. That means you have to upgrade your online brochure to a lean, mean lead-generation machine through conversion marketing.

Your website should be designed to capture leads and sales by driving a visitor to take a desired action toward becoming a customer, such as completing an online form or adding an item to a shopping cart.

Here are a few tips and tricks to do just that:

Determine a call to action for each page within your website, such as “Buy now” or “Get in touch.”
Give something in exchange for contact information, such as a free webinar or whitepaper.
Develop landing pages and microsites apart from your website for use during specific campaigns.
Simplify your copy. Instead of long paragraphs, use bullet points and numbered lists.
Conduct A/B testing to try different headlines, buttons, and calls to action. Compare the results.

Relationship Marketing

Step 3: Make new friends and keep them, too

Regardless of the rapid growth and popularity of online marketing, business is still?and will always be?about relationships. (Even Paul Bunyan had an ox named Babe!)

It’s imperative to build relationships with prospects before, during, and after business transactions. After you convert a visitor into a lead, the next step is to nurture that visitor, and for those who become customers, the goal is to retain them. That is done through relationship marketing, or the process of interacting with your prospects and customers to build trust and loyalty.

Here are a few ideas for building solid relationships online:

Adopt Web 2.0 habits that encourage regular two-way conversations, such as community forums.
Respond to both positive and negative feedback. Give thanks or make amends when necessary.
Publish resources and testimonials that add value and credibility to your products and services.
Develop an e-newsletter with quick tips and special promotions for your clients and prospects.
Create a rewards program to generate referrals and new leads.
* * *

So, if you already have a website and you are wondering what comes next, just follow the simple online marketing steps above to generate new sales and business.

It’s important to remember, however, that the online-marketing steps are cyclical, though they do not necessarily happen in consecutive order.

For example, you might need to build a relationship with a prospect before the prospect is willing to convert. Likewise, your website should be optimized for conversion before you invest in search marketing to attract new visitors.

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