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Branding Web Strategy Mistakes - Brand Identity Guru

1. Lack of overall strategy and clear definition of success:

Most people realize the need for a site, but don't understand what it can/should do for the company. And when they do have a goal, they don't measure it. We'll often ask people, "What are the objectives of your site?" Answers vary from "the site is supposed to provide information about our company and products", or "the site is supposed to effectively convey our brand to our audience". In actuality, those are very rarely the true objectives, but rather the means to accomplish one's objectives. A website's objectives will in most cases be to drive revenue or generate qualified leads.

2. No integration with other marketing activities ? the website is often on an island.

Okay, so you have your URL on your stationary, collateral, etc. But very rarely is a website tightly integrated with other marketing activities such as direct mail and print advertising. Ideally, a company will drive prospects to specific URL's to accept an appealing offer that might have been presented in a direct mailer or advertisement.

3. No Search Engine Positioning (SEO)

In addition to the above point, very few companies have invested the proper time or effort into being effectively positioned in the major search engines. Once built, most people assume that the Search Engines are all rushing towards their website, blinded by an overwhelming lust to spider the new site. To their shock, they eventually find that while they want to be in the Search Engines, getting there is not an automatic process. Although Forrester Research tells us that 80% of all Internet users visit the search engines, our own research shows that fewer than 10% of companies have done anything to position themselves effectively. Usually, there are excuses for lack of search engine marketing... most commonly, "we don't really feel that our particular audience would be looking for a solution in the search engines".

4. No Strategic Capture of Prospect Data

We always ask if companies are capturing strategic data from prospects that visit the site and hear "We have a Contact Us form." When is the last time you filled out a Contact Us form? Contact forms are not strategic. Case studies, white papers - use anything you can to get the prospect to ask for info - then nurture them over time if they aren't sales ready today!

5. Misconceptions Based on People Using Themselves as the Focus Group

Remember, it's not your individual opinion that should drive the creative design for the website. The website should be created for the customer in mind. A site should have some unique flavor, and personal preferences aren't completely disregarded. But we must conform to some standards of usability and habits, and be creative around them.

6. Lack of Ongoing Activity Analysis

Website log files contain a tremendous amount of data. Usually, too much for a typical marketing person to have time to analyze. As a result, key metrics are rarely defined, and no data ends up being monitored and analyzed. Do you know the definitions of the most common metrics any web manager should be looking at? (Visits, page views, visitors, hits)

7. No Content Management System

There is no reason to have content that is outdated and stale. A content management solution can be implemented very affordably and allows a company greater control over their site. It allows non-technical people the ability to control content. Most good sites today are built with a content management system.

8. The Neighbor's Nephew as Web Strategist

"I realize that we're a $50 million company with hundreds of customers, but I really think my neighbor's nephew who just finished a web course can handle our company's web strategy. The old adage "You get what you pay for" holds very true on the Internet. Experience, expertise and customer service are the value propositions a consultant/developer should bring to the table.

9. Focusing Too Much on the Technology

Websites are not technology - integrating them with CRM or ERP systems are very technical issues and should be treated as such. But building a website is a function of marketing. In today's world, a website is a marketing tool - whether it be a lead generation tool, sales support tool or a client extranet. Once you know what kind of server environment and language you will be building in, there are few technical issues that will be popping up.

10. "We don't believe in requesting data from visitors, or using it for e-mail marketing." "People are getting enough spam, we don't want to annoy them even more."

If your site does not attempt to capture the name of an interested, qualified visitor, then what is it really doing? Being prompted for a small amount of information in order to receive some valuable offer in exchange does not annoy people. (In fact, many of our clients have seen increased leads after implementing some registration processes). Furthermore, opt-in e-mail marketing (to those who gave you permission to send information occasionally) will not be viewed as spam, and will, in most cases, generate higher response rates than seen with any other marketing activity. Response rates to opt-in e-mail marketing in the range of 10% - 30% are not unheard of at all.

To measure how strong your brand is copy and paste: (http://brandidentityguru.com/bightml/brandmasterpiece.html). Then click "Take the brand strength test". This is a short survey that measures the strength of any company's brand. It's a great tool to see where you are today.

Scott White is President of Brand Identity Guru (http://www.brandidentityguru.com), a leading brand consulting and market research firm located in Easton, Massachusetts, USA, near Boston. Brand Identity Guru specializes in creating corporate and product brands that increase sales, market share, customer loyalty, and brand valuation.

Over the course of his 15-year branding career, Scott White has worked in a wide variety of industries: high-tech, manufacturing, computer hardware and software, telecommunications, banking, restaurants, fashion, healthcare, Internet, retail, and service businesses, as well as numerous non-profit organizations.

Brand Identity Guru clients include: Sun Life Financial, Coca Cola, HP, Sun, Nordstrom, American Federal Mortgage, Simon (America's largest shopping mall manager) and many others, including numerous emerging growth companies.

Scott White is a very enthusiastic speaker and has the gift of being able to explain the principles of branding in a compelling and entertaining manner so that people at all levels can understand.

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