Web Presence and Branding are crucial when it comes to making the most of your Virtual Real Estate. There are a few major pitfalls which I see time and again, so I thought I’d cover a few of them here.
These are presented in no major order, other than how I thought about them. I were actually prompted to write this by a the signage on curtain sided wagon I saw, which were very much like the first van image I have posted below.
Make the most of what you have, with some simple guidelines.
Failure to Utilise
This is the biggest offender, a business or trader has a domain name, they have an email address and a business name, but none of them match up. I have seen people with www.test.co.uk and their email is firstname.lastname@example.org or once, the other way around email@example.com and the website www.testnorthwest.wix.com.
If you are going to use a domain name, use it for both the presence and the email address, marry them to make a pair and boost you’re memorability.
Following on from marrying your email and website url, we have Trading Names. If you have a cracking domain name, why not use a trading name to capitalise on the domain powers ?
A trading name is a name you trade by, which can be anything really, but you must also identify who you are legally. This why you will often see for example “ABC is a trading name of XYZ Limited” or “ABC Doodads trading as ZXY Widgets Limited”. This is useful if you are say DIY Limited, and want to run Roofing Specialists, Flooring Experts and Boiler Repairs as separate companies under a main brand. This is often used if the company name you wished for, were already taken.
Implementing the above issues in real world style situation. I’m going to make up a business name, and some pretend branding just to illustrate this crucial point, the domain name is owned (at time of writing by myself).
MJ & BB Electricians
0161 234 5678
If you see the above on the side of a van (like left) at best you may remember the domain name as its you’re geographic location and a service you may need, so some recognition exists.
Now lets marry up the email, and website url into a cohesive pair, lets play with the layout a little and we’ll use a trading name to tie it all together. Now you tell me, which one sticks in your mind, the above van of this…
Its nearly impossible to not know what this company does, the company name reinforces the domain name / website url and the email all matches up. We’ve also increased the phone number size so its nice and easy to see.
This isn’t really the end of your branding and presence, not by a long shot. Most of the this happens behind closed doors, you’re customers will never see how much effort and thought foes into this. Infact you, yourself may never have actually given it a seconds thought.
If you’re a sole trader, small business or a growing medium business there is no reason not to plan some sort of basic infrastructure for your email and web presence. I’m going assume this post is being read by SMB (Small and Medium Business) and Sole Traders, so the advice is more geared towards them. Bigger business with dozens of employee’s need to use a slightly different method for contacts and potentially geographic locations maybe a factor amongst other things. I will touch on the latter issues here and there but not too much.
First up, I always recommend a basic set of email addresses, obviously a little tweaking is needed for the exact nature of your business. Sticking with the imaginary Manchester Electricians, I would go with the following basic set up.
info@ManchesterElectricians – General Enquires.
quote/s@ManchesterElectricians – Quotes and Pricing Alias both plural and singular spellings to one account.
emergency@ManchesterElectricians – Emergency Aerial Problems.
Business Card Emails
The business card emails, are important as it gives customers a way to contact someone they know directly rather than a faceless company. There is nothing stopping you having all these emails copy into one inbox; multiple outbound addresses, but its about planning for the future.
If you’re a bigger business, and expect more than half dozen employees, its worth using whole names. There will be a time when you have multiple Chris Jones and Sarah Smith employees.
Multiple People with Same Name
This isn’t perfect, when you get to 1000s of employees you may end up with multiple Robert Jones employees, so its often best to allow those employees to go with less formal names. Not all Robert’s use Robert, they could be Rob, Bob, Bobby or similar, this allows you to keep your email addresses clean.
There will come a time when you need to consider using a multiple notation:
Its inevitable, I would personally try to avoid using numbers, and go with:
If you’ve multiple offices in different areas, then you can use specific geo markers in your emails.
Promotional Email Addresses
Lets say you’re running a competition or special offer which is advertised in a magazine but you want to know the impact. You can use a specific email for this electronicsweekly@ManchesterElectricians and direct to the special offer / competition on ManchesterElectricians.co.uk/electronicsweekly this allows you to see the impact and direct people to more information.
This works for buses bus@ManchesterElectricians or anything else really.
The Bottom Line
Making maximum use of your domain and email within your branding,
Using a basic planned infrastructure from the start allows you to effectively route your emails to correct people and show a more professional presence.
Keep it simple and easy to read and you won’t go wrong.
Van Image courtesy of Michal Zacharzewski, Mail in a Box image Courtesy of Svilen Milev