Category Archives: Uncategorized

I really don’t care about your company’s worldwide sales structure

Someone showed me their shiny new corporate website the other day. “Have a look at this”, they said, proudly. They typed in the URL, clicked on the world map to tell the website where we were, and …hang on a minute; they did what? Yes, as a visitor, the first thing they had to do was to click on a world map to let the site know their location.

Talk about putting up barriers. You read that right: the first thing the website shows, on the home page, is a map of the world with a message “please tell us your location”. Nice. Even better – as I awkwardly hover my mouse over the UK, I’m informed that I live in somewhere called “EMEA”. I’m already quite touched by the personal greeting I’m getting here. It would be bad enough even if the website explained why it was asking me questions before it tried to sell me something – perhaps “we need to know where you are in the world so we don’t show you all the products your local distributor isn’t trusted to sell”. But there isn’t even that courtesy. The website seems to shout: “Who do you think you are, turning up unannounced?”

To be fair, I’ve seen worse. I’ve seen websites where you have to select where you are from a drop-down list of 200 countries, a real pain (as we all know) when we live in a country at the end of the alphabet. As I’ve said before, I always giggle when I see “United States Minor Outlying Islands” next to “United Kingdom”, but that light relief doesn’t really make up for the irritation I’m being put through. Look, if Google can show me adverts based on my postcode, then surely any website could make the effort to at least work out what country I’m in, couldn’t it?

It can, of course, and many do (quietly, behind the scenes of course). Try this to see what can be done easily with the GeoIP service – it should be accurate enough for most needs. There’s a free version of GeoIP which will cater for basic country identification, and there’s plenty of discussion online about implementing the data. Sure, you need a PHP programmer, but it’s preferable to asking your website visitors to do the work, isn’t it?

And please, never tell me I live in “EMEA“. I really don’t care about your company’s worldwide sales structure.

Tracking your promotions properly

If you use Google Analytics, one of the best tools you have at your disposal is the rather low-profile URL Builder (so obscure it doesn’t even appear to have a nice URL to call its own). What this tool does is to enable you to create URLs for all your promotional campaigns, such as advertising, emails, etc, which then allows you to track the visitors they create to a fine degree. This is the sort of thing I regularly find myself helping out our Insider Programme members with, but once you’ve started using this sort of tracking, you never look back.

Making product pages work in the search engines

The WebMarketCentral Blog makes a good point when it says “much of what is written about search engine optimization assumes that you’re writing a blog post, or a news story, or the next great ‘how to’ article” …but of course it’s just as likely that you’re writing that all-important product page. So how do you make a page full of technical specifications work in the search engines? SEO for Product Pages attempts to explain how. It gives four techniques to look at, including using the same terminology as your customers, writing a good sales story, expanding the descriptions and ensuring the images are tagged and titled properly. Do your pages tick all these boxes?

Could you install a new company network? No? Well then…

…why do so many companies let the IT department have so much say when it comes to the company website? This is a point well made in Technology Company Websites should not be driven by technology on Tech Marketing Blog, which asks “why (do) organizations put critical marketing decisions in the hands of the IT department, or at a minimum allow the IT department to exert too much influence on the marketing decision making process?”

Don’t get me wrong, the IT department (or your web host, if you outsource everything) has a critical role to play in letting you know what can be done, and what is feasible when it comes to ongoing maintenance. But it’s painfully obvious when people from an IT background rather than a marketing one have been charged with designing the company website, and the results aren’t pretty.

Actually, that’s not true, often the results are pretty. But they probably don’t meet the most basic marketing objectives.

There are four core skills involved in creating a decent business website: marketing; website structural and performance design; graphic design; and IT. And with marketing being the reason for a website’s existence, it’s marketing which should be in complete control. Some of those four functions can be handled by a single multi-skilled person (I even know graphic designers who can set up firewalls and servers), but the least likely pairing will be marketing and IT. So why IT often gets given such a big say in a website, I’ll never know – and to be fair, I bet they didn’t ask for it.