6 Critical Reasons to Monitor Website Performance

Your website is a cornerstone of your business in today’s technology-driven era. You can expect new customers to research you online – and assess your trustworthiness – through your website before approaching you. And if you operate an e-Commerce store or similar, then your website performance is responsible for a large chunk of your earnings, if not the entirety of them.

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Why do Public Relations?

Why do public relations?

For this post, I thought I would challenge what the role of public relations is, with the objective to provide a thoughtful perspective on what value PR plays within an organization.

To start, the objective of public relations or PR is to raise awareness of a company, non-profit group or any other organization. Why does this matter? Well, to start, it is a lot easier to sell products or services if your audience has heard of you. Simply stated, no one wants to buy from a stranger. Public relations overcomes this sales hurdle by creating stories about the organization that will be viewed as interesting, or at least interesting enough to be read about by your target audience.

Note that this methodology must be applied with the sole objective to engage your audience. If other people find out, that is fine. But, you must be careful to not waste limited resources reaching individuals that will never be part of your buyer’s purchase lifecycle. This philosophy must be applied religiously to every opportunity for contributed articles, guest blog posts, speaking engagements and award opportunities.

My Audience Already Knows Me

I have spoken to some business owners who state that their target audience already knows who they are, and they know all about their company’s product or service. If this is the case, why spend the investment to reach out to them again? The reason why this investment makes sense is that it is going to help you to continue to best serving your market segment. Just because a customer has heard of you doesn’t mean they will continue to purchase or renew their existing services with you on a consistent, never-ending basis.

The Risk of Complacency

Imagine this scenario as a theoretical a case study. A new competitor enters your market. What do you think will be the first thing they do to introduce themselves to your customers? Odds are some sort of PR campaign, including announcements, special offers, grand opening day parties, etc. They must make this investment as they are coming into your market as a “disruptor,” which must be announced in order to be effective.

Now let’s say that you haven’t been investing your own PR campaign. Maybe funds have been tight as you have neglected this activity for the past year or so. Maybe your website and social media channels are a bit out of date too, falling into the category of something that could be deferred for a year or two.

Unfortunately, you are now a sitting duck for this new competitor to come in and eat your lunch. Once they begin making noise, you will be caught off guard. Assuming you move quickly and start to invest in getting your PR program back on track, it will still take time. Days, weeks or even months will pass before you are able to first get your routine changed to re-focus on this topic. You will be in “catchup” mode for some time. Every month you are behind is a month where you are at risk of losing customers. Think about it … what is the opportunity cost that someone might come into your market and try to steal market share?

At minimum, it might make sense to at least keep a few programs running, even if funds are tight. This way you still have a “toe” in the water, as a steady “beating of the drum,” to remind the market and your audience of current customers and prospects. This activity states that you are still there, and are actively reaching out to them to continue to help better address their needs with your product or services. Seems like a good investment and an even better business strategy decision that can be easily incorporated into your marketing communications strategy.

Gordon Benzie is a marketing adviser and business plan writer that specializes in preparing and executing upon business plans and marketing strategies.

Are you Ready for the Mobility Revolution?

A couple weeks ago I saw the latest Top 10 IDC predictions for the IT industry. It is always good idea to seek an “outside in” perspective on your business positioning and marketing message. A prediction that caught my attention was that in 2013 there will no longer be growth in the use of traditional desktop computers and laptops to access the Internet. By 2015, it is expected that more people will surf the net from their “Smart Mobile Devices” instead.

From a marketing communications perspective, this is pretty big news.

To start, one of the most important communications venues is a website. The growth in tablets and smart phones to access the Internet is hardly surprising. A year ago I wrote this post: 5 Ways to Improve Website Usability on a Mobile Device, which pointed to this growing trend, and what to do in preparation. Regardless, the expectation that more than half of all website visitors will be on mobile devices is shocking! No longer is it prudent to just think about formatting and display issues … a complete reevaluation on menu navigation and accessibility should now be considered. Ignore this audience and you will be at risk of losing up to half of all visitors in just two years’ time.

Here is something to consider: do you have flash running on your site? If so, then you might want to set a plan in motion to remove it. Apple mobile devices have a significant market share, and Flash doesn’t work on their systems. And, the new Microsoft Surface tablet doesn’t run flash either.

Here is another thought to consider: Windows 8 is out and on the shelves. In the next 12-18 months a much larger percentage of website viewing activity will be done from this operating system, which will run both desktops, laptops and mobile devices. This OS favors a content structure that moves from left to right instead of from up to down. Translation: you might want to start thinking about how to arrange your website navigation accordingly.

Lastly, take a moment to recognize that touch screens are steadily becoming more prevalent. Apple is the one to “blame” for this transformation, with the launch of their iPhones and iPads. Their popularity demonstrates the benefits of this type of user interface – it is just easier to touch a screen to navigate a user interface or website. This is another design element that should now be considered as part of your website layout. Big buttons will need to be incorporated to activate menu options or to request more information.

My prediction is that 2013 will be a great year for web design firms. If I was running the marketing program at one of them, I would be sure to kick off the year with a special message and marketing communications about the results of the latest IDC study coupled with a free “mobility compatibility” evaluation offer.

There might even be a reasonable business plan that could launch a new company offering this service …

Gordon Benzie is a marketing adviser and business plan writer that specializes in preparing and executing upon business plans and marketing strategies.