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A Global Voice through your website

There are many tools that can be implemented on your website in order to communicate with the general public. If you are not currently using your website as a marketing tool then you are missing out on a lot of free marketing capabilities. Here is a brief explanation of a few tools that you can take advantage of:

Blogs

Running a blog is intriguing and scary. Most of us have heard of blogs, they are an informal online communication tool. It is a device that allows the business owner to discuss what they are doing or what the business is doing in an informal environment.

Blogs have helped increase sales for some companies. A bicycle shop in Limerick discussed in their blog  their new €3,000 bicycle that they just received in stock. A dialogue ensued through the comment of the blog and the bicycle was sold the next week to a Dubliner who had read the blog. Charity companies often use blogs to allow their staff abroad to discuss with the general public what they are doing and what the situation is like in their country. This increases the importance of their work as seen by the public which in turn increases donations.

If you decide the run a blog on your website it is important to be honest and transparent. Write about what is happening with your company, your industry or your products. If you do start a blog you should also ensure that there is an RSS feed associated with it.  An RSS feed will allow others to follow your blog and be alerted of updates. You can also use the RSS feed to add you blogs automatically to your Facebook account and submit it to the Blog directories.

Forums

A Forum or otherwise known as a discussion board, is an interactive tools that allows users to interact with each other by discussing theme related topics and exchanging tips. Boards.ie has built a very successful business around this model. However, there is a catch 22 relating to starting a new forum. People tend to only participate in an active forum, but a forum is not active without people participating on it. Usually a business will get all their friends and family members to start participating in it in order to get the ball rolling. Another caveat is that there needs to be a moderator of the forum. The moderator's job is to ensure that posts remain on topic, users are not being bullied by other users, and spam is removed immediately. An active forum will help you build a strong online community with a high ratio of returning visitors.

Articles

Putting up articles on your website gives an enhanced public perception that your company is a significant player in your industry. It is a excellent medium for demonstrating your knowledge and understanding of your products or services. It could also enhance inbound links to your website.  Other website owners will often link to your interesting articles in their blogs or on their website content. This has the added benefit of boosting your search engine ranking as well as increased website traffic.

Newsletter

A newsletter is usually sent via email to clients that have signed up to accept it. This is one of the reasons that it is a great marketing and communication tool. The normal protocol is to send it out once per month. I would not recommend sending it out more regular than that as it could be perceived as spam. A newsletter needs to have news worthy material. A new product or service, a new concept for an old product, introduction of a new staff member, or news about your industry are all good topics for a newsletter.

It is best to give a summary of each article with a link to more information about that article on your website. This way you are not overloading people with information and yet still giving them an option to find out more. A newsletter is a great way to keep people updated on your business or products.

Customer Service Forms

This is one of the most significant uses of website communication. Online customer service can include all the communications tools above along with a contact form or a support ticketing system. A contact form can be a simple form where the visitor enters their details and sends a brief query or it can be a complex interactive system that will guide the visitor through a serous of questions in order to provide an answer before sending the query to specific department in your company.

One important requirement is to follow-up on all communications received through your website, even if a visitor submits a general statement. Organisation and departmental responsibility is essential here. Ensure that each of your departments understands the importance of following-up on a communication. Employing a communication tracking system will aid this process.

A support tracking system is a very powerful tool. It keeps an audit of issues that a customer reports to your company about products or services. It guarantees that the issues do not fall through the cracks and that they eventually get resolved. Larger companies tend to have multiple levels of support; if an issue fails to be resolved at the first level then it is moved up to the next level of support. This ensures that no customer is left behind.

Instant Messaging

Instant Messaging or otherwise known as 'Live Chat' is very popular among the E-commerce websites. It provides a method for visitors to chat instantly with a sales person from the company. Questions are answered immediately through a small popup device where the visitor and sales person type out their communication. This helps the visitor to get an instant response without having to hunt down the company's phone number, make a phone call, pass through the automated answering service and hopefully talk to someone who can answer their question.

 


Written by Vince Doherty, Dakor Web Design