What can you do with your web site:
The justification for a web site is likely to be different for each company but should be based upon the company's business needs and how the internet might satisfy some of these specific needs. So in some respects a generic list of benefits of a web site could be approaching the problem from the wrong direction. However it does serve as a basis for discussion.
For some companies the cost/benefit analysis is clear. For others it is more difficult to find enough tangible benefits to offset the cost. However the importance of the internet is undeniable and an organisation's web presence sends a clear signal of how seriously it takes the internet. An organisation must consider what damage a poor website can do to it's reputation. This will be more important in some market sectors than others. The website is a reflection of the company and its image, it can open up new avenues. It is a good interactive medium to find out about clients needs and requirements. Once a client is taken on-board, the website can be used to build on the client relationship, using on-line training or questionnaires for example.
Here follows a generic list of possible benefits of a quality web site:
- Provide everyone with easy access to all the information about your company, products and services
- Make it possible for anyone anywhere to contact you easily and cheaply
- A properly maintained web site means you can always provide up to date information to wherever and to whoever needs it
- Provides a cheap and effective medium for news items, announcements and general communications about the company, services or products that you wish to broadcast
- Provide constant (24/7) worldwide support for your products or services. No-one has to wait for you to send documents or answer 'Frequently Asked Questions'
- A web site positions your company with IT literate consumers. Very often, planned web activity will be part of a co-ordinated campaign in which various channels share common objectives.
- An effective web site gives a positive impression of a progressive company and builds credibility for your organisation as a serious market player
- Obtain low-cost market research by asking web site visitors for feedback on your services and products
- Collect valuable contact information from site visitors for use in other marketing campaigns
- You can obtain information about the people looking at your advertisements, for example you can find out which advertisements people have been looking at and for how long
- Unlike other advertising mediums which have a short lifespan your web site is permanent and therefore significantly more cost effective
- Recruit talent, members, employees, subscribers or partners. For a growing company, recruitment is an expensive business and to find the right people and make sure that the people know the right information about your company is important, this can be done through the website, and by keeping the site up to date people will keep coming back to see what jobs are available.
- Much more can be done with web sites - colour, sound, video, linking, searching, interactivity and the ability to get a response from a visitor - than other mediums
Cost savings could come from:
- Less need to provide direct support by staff on demand
- Marketing - reduced print, re-print and publishing costs (also consider that if comprehensive information is provided on the web site items you still need to print - brochures, adverts, circulars, announcements, updates etc - can be simpler and cheaper as they can refer to the site)
- Reduced distribution costs
- Reduced waiting time as there is ready access to the information you need
- Reduced effort through improvements to existing office processes or b2b processes by using the internet to gather or disseminate information and integrate this into other office processes. Online forms, requests, automated processes, data gathering, record updating, automated responses, automated distribution to email lists, subscribers, integration into other administration, product or service based systems and databases can provide real opportunities to use the modern internet technologies to increase efficiency and reduce costs
Scenario: A company running public, private and bespoke training courses had a basic website but did most of their marketing via direct mailings. They produced a 60 page glossy brochure plus 4 smaller brochures every 6 months in large quantities for mailing. The brochures contained details of all their courses and schedules of public courses for the following 6 months and course booking forms.
Problems: Cost of print is expensive and once done it can't be changed. The courses are technology based so they change rapidly as do course schedules.
Solution: A new web site containing extensive details on courses and schedules that can easily be updated combined with a reduced dependence on printed brochures. The site also allows courses to be booked and paid for online, effectively automating some of the back room processes. The revenue generated by the new web site each month was more than the cost of developing the site. Also the saving in print and distribution costs every six months was significantly more than the cost of the new web site development.
Michael Spencer, Managing Director.
Epsilis - Website Designers
47 Farthing Drive
Letchworth Garden City
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