By Bridget McCrea
Perhaps you put up an online presence with a “build it and they will come” philosophy, expecting it to run by itself. Or maybe one of your top sales reps started a blog in 2010, only to get too busy with daily tasks to keep up with it. Regardless of why it happens, the reality is that many companies hit the web with great intentions and then let that aspect of their operations stagnate while they turn their focus to more pressing tasks.
If your site has fallen into this “outdated” state you certainly aren’t alone. A quick perusal of the web clearly reveals which companies have taken a proactive approach to Internet marketing, and which have chosen the more casual, inactive route. And while some understanding customers may be in the same boat – also struggling to manage their own sites – others will equate an outdated web presence with outdated products and services.
A good website, on the other hand, will build your distributorship’s credibility and help it gain a stronger foothold in the marketplace. Here are four ways to get your firm’s site revved up and productive this year:
- Give customers what they want. During the fall of 2012, the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) conducted a co-branded survey with the Independent Electrical Contractors Association (IEC) and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) to gather data about how electrical contractors use technology. When respondents were asked to categorize which website features they wanted to see on their suppliers’ sites, here’s what they had to say:
- 85% – Product Specification Sheets
- 84% – Search by description, product category, brand name, manufacturer, and/or part numbers
- 68% – Product photographs
- 64% – Look up application/installation guides
- 58% – Locate nearest distributor
- 57% – Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
If your company’s site falls short in any of these areas it’s time to incorporate this list into your web strategy, keep the various elements up to date and relevant, and let your customers know that the information is right at their fingertips via laptop, tablet, or mobile phone.
- Commit to publishing a twice-monthly blog. Blogging is a fairly simple and cost effective way for a distributor to share knowledge, information, and industry trends with customers. “If the electronics distribution industry is changing or if your audience needs to be updated on trends, a blog is a great vehicle for sharing that information,” says Nikolas Allen, owner of BAM! Small Biz Consulting in Mount Shasta, Calif. Unfortunately, blogs often lose steam after just a few months, leaving customers wanting for more and wondering what happened. Allen says distributors should commit to producing a fact-filled blog post every other week. “The idea is to create regular blogs that get people coming back to your site,” says Allen. “If you don’t have that, they look at it once and leave.”
- Tell your customers what’s in it for them. The earliest websites were basically glorified, digital business cards that showed customers that your firm was trying to get ahead of the technology curve. Fast-forward to 2013 and the best websites are the ones that actually speak the customers’ language and help solve their pain points. “Go beyond just listing every service and product that your company offers,” Allen advises, “and articulate what your firm does, who it benefits, and how your solutions make your customers’ lives easier.” To make that exercise simple, Allen says distributors should keep this in mind: Everything you list on your website should answer the question that is in your audience’s mind at all times, “What’s in it for me?”
- Stay on top of it. The biggest faux pas that companies make in today’s Internet age is putting up a website and expecting it to run itself. “Everyone seems to have the basics down by now, but keeping up with the content, pricing, product specifications, and other details seems to escape a lot of companies,” says Kane Jamison, founder and marketing director at Hood Web Management in Seattle. “To get the most out of your site, you really need to stay on top it.” Jamison suggests putting one employee in charge of the task, which can be as simple as updating the site as the latest products are added to a manufacturer’s lineup or as new pricing or discounts are announced. Add twice-monthly blogging to that person’s agenda and it won’t be long before your website rises out of the “dead letter” bin and begins performing as intended.