2nd October 2009
If you have a website that promotes your product or service, wouldn’t you want to gain as much benefit as possible?
Let’s say you’re planning to launch a new product in a few years’ time. You’ve done your research and know that everyone will be drooling over it. However, nobody knows you exist and the product is very expensive; you need to make sure you hit the ground running when it comes off the production line.
You decide to build a website to promote your product in advance of its launch so that you can spread awareness. What would your strategy be over the months and weeks leading up to your big launch? How would you drive traffic to the site? What would be the purpose of the site?
I’ve been tracking the online progress of two separate companies who are definitely interested in driving traffic – they are both developing high performance electric sports cars.
Tesla Roadster Vs Lightening Car
These are the contenders. Both can accelerate from 0-60 mph in under 5 seconds. Both are zero emission sports cars with sexy lines and styling. Both can travel around 200 miles on a full charge.
However, whilst the Tesla Roadster has generated a huge amount of publicity with a community of well-informed fans, over 700 cars already delivered, a celebrity owners’ club and cars sold a year before they roll off the production line, hardly anyone knows the Lightening Car exists, even though it is, arguably, the better product.
Let’s compare the two websites:
Page Rank: 7
Blog: Extensive, multi-faceted blog with many contributors
Newsletter: Email Newsletter
Reservations: Online Reservation System
Merchandise: Online Merchandise Store
RSS Feed: Yes
News Section: Regularly Updated News Section
Press: Links to External Press Articles
Information: Huge volume of information
Members’ area: Members’ area for owners
Videos: YouTube videos embedded onsite
Page Rank: 6
Blog: No blog
Newsletter: No newsletter
Reservations: General Contact Form
Merchandise: No Merchandise
RSS Feed: No
News Section: No News Section
Press: No capitalisation on good press
Information: Key information and FAQ only
Members’ area: No members’ area
Videos: Email them if you want a video
Tesla have communicated with anyone who was willing to listen over the past few years and shared the trials and tribulations of bringing a new product to the market. Their regular blog updates would include anything from the recruitment of key people to the company, to testifying before government committees on the merits of electric vehicles, to updates regarding the development of the car itself including any setbacks, right through to personal views and opinions on their future products and direction.
As a result, Tesla have built a large online following and gained a huge amount of free publicity from this online buzz. Even though their product is priced way out of the range of the average budget, these users have helped promote the car to such an extent that there was a year-long waiting list by the time the first car rolled off the production line.
That sort of financial security, at a time when most automotive manufacturers have been struggling for survival has meant that they could be aggressive in designing new models and expanding their business across the USA, Canada and Europe. They have recently announced that they are now profitable, which is more than can be said for many established automakers.
Little can be said for the Lightening Car Company’s website. Despite their product being arguably more visually appealing and having many practical benefits (such as a battery that can be recharged in 10 minutes as opposed to 3 hours), they’ve secured hardly any of their fair share of the tidal wave of momentum they could have tapped into. Their site is basic, static and, aside from a few attractive images, doing very little.
Of course, it may be that Lightening are quite happy with what they have, but they are undoubtedly missing out on a huge amount of publicity and sales that could be transforming their business and maximising their chances of success in the long term.
What can we learn from this?
Simply having an excellent product on a website that ranks very well for your chosen keyword is only going to scratch the surface of what is possible. You need to be pulling out all the stops to maximise the potential of your website. Engage with your users – it will pay off.