Online policy must think local not global
I STILL hear bandied about the idea that the web can give you access to a global audience.
If you want a global audience for your website then you'd better be prepared to have a global marketing budget.
The web is at its best not when it gives you access to a global audience but when it helps you access a local audience. It sounds counterintuitive but the trend on the internet has been towards local, not global.
Whether it's social media or search or mobile, these technologies ultimately have been used to connect a small and local group.
Look at the last great web splurge, Groupon and CityDeals. Those services are ultimately about attracting a very specific and local audience.
Mobile is more and more about location-based activities where local advertisers compete to attract your footsteps into local stores.
For most Irish businesses their customers are actually within 50 miles of them and it's these local people that are looking for you.
Stop trying to be all things to all people. In case you don't know, the web is a rigged game. How? It is rigged in favour of those who specialise.
If you were booking a honeymoon in the west of Ireland would you go to 'Bobs One-Stop Honeymoon Shop' where you can have honeymoons on every continent in every climate on every planet? Or would you go to say Sile and Derek Hanratty from 'Honeymoons West' who live in Clifden and organise specialist honeymoons in the area.
One of the toughest challenges for most businesses is to commit to and focus on a specific audience.
I know a wedding photographer whose website contains lots of fantastic photos of brides and grooms.
Recently he was asked to take aerial photos of an industrial park and added these to the home page of his website. Imagine it, pictures of factories alongside pictures of blushing brides.
By trying to be all things to all people he is going to lose both.
Brides aren't looking for factories and industrial parks aren't looking for brides.
In this case he had sufficient material and expertise for both types of businesses to split the content across two websites.
Whether you keep to one website for all of our business or split it across a few it's a decision that should be driven by your audience and what will work for them.
Your customers are local, they are searching for specialists not generalists.
So when preparing a web strategy, focus ruthlessly and be clear about whom you are trying to reach and exactly what they are looking for.
Think local and specialise.
Ian Dodson is CEO of the Digital Marketing Institute, an Irish digital marketing training and education company. Digitalmarketinginstitute.ie.