Many building service contractors have had basic company Web sites for a while — but as technology evolves, perhaps it’s time for a reevaluation or update of content or layout. If you’re approaching your site like it’s a brochure or traditional advertisement, you’re not fully utilizing its power.

Web sites have changed the way business is done, says Michelle Howe, Internet marketing consultant with Irvine, Calif.-based Internet Word Magic, which specializes in Web site traffic.

The Internet makes it possible for consumers to make smarter decisions, as they have the power to compare services, she says. Unlike more traditional marketing tools, with which companies could toot their own horns, Web sites allow informed decision-making. That means businesses need to be accountable to the consumer and provide enough of the right information to sell services.

“You have to completely change your mindset and think about your target audience,” she says.

Important pages
The first question a company needs to answer is the purpose of its Web site. A lot of companies don’t even know why they have a site, Howe says. BSCs’ sites should solicit business and build relationships with prospective customers. It’s a matter of making the site a marketing machine that provides the right information, especially how the BSC can help viewers solve their problems.

“When someone comes to a Web site, they have a specific problem they want an answer to,” Howe says.

Three main questions should be answered by the site’s home page: Who you are, what you do and why someone should do business with you. If those questions are not addressed in a quick scan of the page, most people will simply look elsewhere rather than spend more time at a confusing site.

The home page should be a combination of visual appeal and readability. It’s great to include powerful images or photos, other company information such as location and years in business, and glowing testimonials as well — as long as they don’t get in the way of the most critical information; the who, the what and the why.

However, some things just don’t belong on a home page. For example, a mission statement, which is an internal company tool, isn’t important to most people outside of the company, Howe says. Site visitors care about solving their own problems.

Another area of the Web site many companies don’t utilize properly is the “Contact Us” section.

“Many drop the ball there,” Howe says, adding that this function has the potential to build relationships with new clients. In addition to specific contact information such as a phone numbers and e-mail addresses, there should be a call to action or some sales copy that motivates the reader to want to reach out to the company, says Howe. Letting interested parties give the company their e-mail addresses is a perfect way to start a relationship with new customers.

“Many people come to sites, leave, and don’t do business with you,” Howe says. “The best bet is to have a way to collect e-mail addresses of people who visited the site so you can go back and market to them, because that’s when you’re going to make the sale.”

Know your audience
Everything done on the Web site needs to be directed at the target audience, Howe says. If the audience is technically savvy, the site should be more advanced. But if targeting the average person, the site should be easy to navigate and quick to load, since Internet connection speeds vary.

Using techniques to retain and interact with a target audience — in combination with marketing the site on offline materials — will result in more targeted traffic on the Web site, Howe says.

Web sites have revolutionized the business world, and BSCs will reap the benefits of the ever-increasing online potential customer base if they properly use them as successful marketing tools.

Industry Search Engine Now Features Article Search Option

In 2006, Trade Press Publishing, the parent company of Contracting Profits magazine, launched the cleaning industry’s first search engine, CleanHound. Now even more user friendly, CleanHound has added a new search feature. This vertical market search engine now offers user the option to focus their search specifically on industry-related articles.

Industry professionals can now research topics of interest and scour article archives for the most current information available from the trade industry. The article search feature will provide users access to published information from all industry publications and government agencies.

CleanHound was designed specifically for building service contractors, in-house cleaning professionals and sanitary supply distributors who are looking for industry-specific information.