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Your website

Your website designYour website is an essential tool in your marketing strategy. It helps new customers find you and advertises what you can offer. You can use it to keep existing customers informed, improve your customer care and offer online sales through an e-commerce website. It reaches consumers and businesses nationally and internationally - and it can do all of this very cost-effectively.

Planning your marketing website

Before developing your website, you'll need a clear idea of who you are trying to reach and what you want to achieve. Many businesses see their website largely as a way to attract new customers.

To get maximum exposure, you'll need to promote your company website on search engines such as Google. Search engine optimisation (SEO) can help to get your website to the top of natural searches. You can also use online advertising to drive traffic to your site. An appropriate and memorable domain name is an essential starting point to help customers find you.

But a marketing website can do more than attract new customers. You can use it to keep existing customers up to date with special offers, product launches and news about your business. You can improve your customer service and cut costs by providing information and contact details online. Any products or services you sell should be available to order on your website.

Website design and content

The design of your website should reflect your business image and brand identity. A cheap, do-it-yourself approach is unlikely to give a good impression. But complex design and technologies are only worthwhile if these suit your image and help your website fulfil your goals. Above all, your customers must be able to find what they need quickly - via clearly laid-out information and straightforward navigation.

Your content should be led by your marketing objectives. For example, if you want users to visit repeatedly, provide regular updates. To encourage visitors, you can send email alerts when the site is updated or circulate a regular newsletter.

You can use this information to conduct basic market research and to tailor your offer to different groups of customers or even individual users. E-commerce websites like Amazon, for example, use cookies to store visitor information so they can make recommendations based on individual users' past purchases. However, legislation requires anyone with a website to make sure their users are provided with clear information about how cookies are used in the website and have given permission for you to use cookies. 

Maintaining your company website

Building and launching your website is just the start. You then need to make sure that it works properly and is regularly updated. Out-of-date content, slow page loading and technical hitches are deeply frustrating for visitors and they will simply click away.

Choosing the right internet service provider (ISP) to host your company website will ensure your website performs. You should also respond to customer enquiries promptly. If you don't have the time to do this, pay someone else to do it.

A good website design will also incorporate tracking software that enables you to see which pages are popular and which are under-performing. Tools like Google Analytics will allow you to test different content to see how you can improve your performance. Regular monitoring and ongoing website development are critical if you are to continuously improve the results you get from your marketing website.

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