Experience

How a Niche Market Website Can Pull Its Weight

Published on 4th September, 2007

I’m going to start this post by stating the obvious: your web site is an integral part of your business.

That statement would be embarrassingly redundant, were it not for the fact that very few businesses treat their web site in this manner. Instead of simply being a cog in the machine, playing a small but significant role in the development of a company, far too many web sites seem utterly divorced from the realities of business life.

Another apparently obvious statement is that your web site should support your business goals, and work together with your other marketing activities to help you achieve those goals.

Once again, this is far from being the norm, a situation not helped by the fact that very few web agencies consider it part of their role to advise their clients on this subject.

Let’s look at an example of how a well-considered web site can contribute to a business.

Case Study: Jones the Boot

Jones the Boot has a company selling shoes. He’s a pretty canny fellow, so he knows theres not much point going head-to-head with Clarks, Ravel, and all the other big high street names. What Jones needs is a niche.

After much pondering, he decides to only stock shoes designed for people with flat feet.

Jones has done his research, so he knows that a large proportion of people with flat feet subscribe to Spatula Foot Monthly. He also knows that the annual Convention of the Fallen Arch at the NEC in Birmingham is big news, and a great place to meet potential customers.

So, Jones the Boot knows who his audience is, and he knows how to reach them. How can his web site fit into all this?

The Wrong Way to Build a Web Site

After due consideration, Jones goes with AAA-Web Sites Limited. Triple-A builds him a very pleasant looking site, containing an About Jones page, his contact details, a list of products, and a blog. Jones is very happy with the result, and sets about promoting his business through a variety of advertisements, both online, and in print.

After a couple of months, Jones runs into a few problems. For a start, he can’t tell which of his print adverts are working, because they all just direct people to the home page of his web site. Even worse than that, he’s spending a fortune on pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements, but because every ad points at the generic products list page, his conversion rates are terrible.

Pretty soon Jones stops updating his site, because it’s just not worth the effort. The blog stagnates, the products list becomes dated, and his web site becomes more of a liability than an asset.

The Right Way to Build a Web Site

Eventually, Jones decides it’s time to sort things out. He contacts us (clever Jones), and we have a chat about his business goals, where he makes his money, and the fascinating subject of pes planus.

We suggest a few ways in which the net can contribute to his assault on this lucrative niche market:

  • Separate landing pages on the Jones the Boot web site for each advertisement (online or offline).
  • A PPC campaign advertising a free e-book, written by Jones, called “Underneath the Arches: the Ultimate Guide to Insoles”.
  • A short series of emails containing helpful tips on how to buy the best footwear for your flat feet.
  • A monthly newsletter, highlighting the hottest new flat-footwear, and profiling famous people who haven’t fallen foul of their arches.

Jones is sceptical about some of our suggestions, so we explain a bit more about how these ideas will benefit his business:

  • The separate landing pages will improve his conversion rates, because each page delivers exactly what was promised by the advert.
  • The separate landing pages will also enable Jones to accurately measure the success of each advertisement.
  • The PPC campaign advertising his free e-book will be cheap, because not many people compete to give things away for free (and even fewer compete to advertise the fact). By offering this valuable information in exchange for a name and email address, Jones the Boot can build up a high-quality mailing list of people interested in what he has to offer.
  • By providing genuinely useful information in the form of emails and newsletters, Jones can keep in touch with his mailing list prospects, without becoming an annoyance. They’ll grow to respect him as an expert in his field, and the next time they’re looking for a new pair of flat foot sling-backs, Jones the Boot will be at the forefront of their minds.

We also explain to Jones how we can set up software to automatically send out his email course (so he doesn’t have the headache of managing it manually), and how our professional copywriters can help him tidy up the first draft of his e-book, to make it a bit more presentable.

Our ideas mean a bit more up-front work for Jones the Boot than the Triple-A solution, but we think it’s worth the effort.

If you’d like to keep up with the Joneses (sorry), drop us a line. We’d love to hear what you’re up to.