Ask the Expert: Web Sites

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What are the key elements of a successful b-to-b Web site? Kelleher: There are many. One of my very strongly held opinions is that technology, though a wonderful thing, can't solve all your problems. You still have to think about the larger world in which you're working, in which you're putting out this Web site. Aside from bells and whistles, which can certainly help, think strategically: “What is it that I'm trying to say? To whom am I trying to say it, and how do I properly convey it to that audience?” You see these absolutely beautiful, well-programmed sites that are missing that key piece of saying the right things to the right people. Frankly, if you're doing that work right, the technology can support it or can go along side it and it's not as critical a part of it. It sounds like a very anti-technology thing to say, which is not at all my position, but it's really a key to making sure all the pieces fit together—just knowing who you're trying to talk to, what you're trying to say and why you have a Web site. How can marketers use Web 2.0 elements to connect with customers? Kelleher: One of the things we're seeing that can really open up a whole new world for people is to start doing something like a blog, where there's an actual human being that's giving actual opinions or insider information—like expert tips or expert perspective—that you won't get from a traditional sales and marketing Web site. That sort of thing can really generate a ton of buzz and make your site something that people really want to come back to. For certain sites, it's appropriate to have user feedback and have people respond to blog postings or articles, and really make them part of the conversation. That seems to really engage clients—and even prospects—and draw them in, and make them feel like they have more of a connection with the organization. We talk often about whether it's blogs, or RSS feeds or things like that [that are most effective]. The method is flexible—you can do it a bunch of different ways. But the basic idea is that it's a human being sharing some expertise with the people out there and really engaging them in a conversation. M
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