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Week 3

Week 3: Web presence

  • To understand the importance of a web presence from a marketing standpoint
  • To identify the key goals of having a web presence for your project
  • To think through elements of your enterprise's web presence
  • Make-your-own-case study: Identify an enterprise with an effective web presence. Post a link under this week's forum prompt and tell why you think it is effective (including the relation to the enterprise's mission and marketing mix, the "first impression" it gives, and the value to repeat visitors).
  • Think through the elements of our own enterprise's web presence
    • Write a post in the Forum prompt for week 3 about what type of web presence your enterprise should have; include information such as how your mission and vision will be reinforced by your web presence and a brief outline of your web site's content. If you like, you can also talk about what tools make most sense given your goals and budget but this should not be the focus.  Then review and respond to at least one other participant's post. (Note: This assignment can be expanded into your project for weeks 5-9 by actually building a web presence for your enterprise.)
  • (Optional) If you have never set up a web site below, try one of the simpler tools below to set up web site. (You don't need to get a domain or spend any money to do this.) You will probably be surprised how easy it is. If you already have a web site, look through the various options below and as suggested by course participants to see if there are options that might be easier/cheaper/better than how you do it now. You may post on this in the forum if you like but it is not required.

Every enterprise that needs marketing, whether a business or not, should have some kind of web presence. It doesn't have to be a full-blown commercially-produced web site; in fact, it could be as simple as a Facebook page or blog. In today's world, there are a million free, easy ways to create a web presence. Whatever you choose, make sure that you have the ability to edit your own web site quickly and relatively easily. As an entrepreneur and as an effective marketer, this is critical. You don't want to have to rely on costly or time-constrained outside (or even internal) resources to make changes for you.

This course is not about developing a web site though, it is about marketing. (There are some other very good courses on web site development on P2PU, as well as many other resources I'd encourage you to took at. In addition, there is a short appendix below for those who are just getting started in this area.)

It is easy to get caught up in all the technical bells and whistles of web site development, as well as stunning graphics, flashy (pun intended) animations, etc., but that's not what makes a good web site. There are many examples of web sites that are tecnical or visual marvels, but that provide little benefits to visitors.

Whether you already have a web site or are just starting one, it is important to think about what benefits your web site can offer visitors:

  • What might prospective customers/users want to find on your web site?
  • What might existing customers/users want to find on your web site?
  • What might someone who just stumbles onto your web site find that could convert them into a customer/user?
Equally important, what image do you want to convey about your enterprise? What do you want people's first impression to be?

Content. The best web sites provide valuable content to customers or potential customers.

Think about what a visitor to your site might find valuable. At a minimum, make sure to provide:
  • your mission and vision
  • a description of what you do (products, services, etc.)
  • contact information
  • who you work with
  • where you operate
  • links to any social media
  • policies, terms of use, legal stuff
Beyond that, consider including:
  • pricing
  • demos
  • support information
  • free resources
  • success stories (testimonials, case studies, etc.0
  • press releases and press coverage
  • events listing
  • a store
Whatever web presence you establish, make sure to keep it up to date and add new content regularly. Nothing says "dead business" like a web site that is obviously out of date or neglected.

In addition to having your own web site, make sure that you are findable other places on the web, for example:
  • on Google maps (assuming you have a physical location), optimally with some nice reviews
  • on any directories that are relevant to your enterprise (e.g. restaurant guides, wikis,etc.)
  • on any relevant review sites
  • on other web sites that have related information
  • on any community sites that are relevant to your enterprise
  • in search engins (We'll talk more about that later.)
If you aren't sure where to start, Google your competitors or relevant key words and see what comes. (Also, don't forget to Google your own enterprise regularly to see what's coming up.)

You should also always make sure to test your web site on multiple browsers and with different bandwidths. It is surprising how many big organizations have web sites that don't work well with different browses or are painfully slow to load. As more and more people are using mobiles to access the web, mobile site design is becoming increasingly important as well. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of web presence, but hopefully it will give you some ideas for establishing a web presence that will generate positive momentum for your enterprise. (And we'll talk more about social media and user-generated content in Week 5.)

Use the activties above to springboard you into thinking more about these issues.

Appendix: Getting Started With Setting up a Web Site

One thing to think about early on is getting one or more domains (or URLs) for yourself. You can do this at sites like or

As the web has gotten more crowded, getting a good domain has gotten more difficult. For that reason, many enterprises reserve domains that they may not be using right now but foresee using in the future. When choosing a domain, consider the following:
  • Shorter is better.
  • Avoid domains that are hard to communicate or easy to mistype, such as those with a hyphen or underscore or ones that include words that are difficult to spell.
  • Make sure you don't violate others' trademarks.
  • Your domain doesn't have to be your exact business name. It could be descriptive of your benefits or even a more abstract (but hopefully memorable) word.

Here are some tools that can help you establish a web presence (in rough order from super-easy to more complex):

  • Hosted social media site
  • Hosted blog
  • Hosted wiki
  • Other hosted site
  • Cheap hosted site
  • Piggy-back on someone else's server; you probably know people who have small businesses that host their own web sites. It's pretty easy to have them host yours too.
  • Any of the above hosted on your own server - Ultimately this will give you more control over your web presence but it is more costly to set up and maintain.
If is worth noting that for many of the externally hosted options above, you can arrange to have your own URL  so that it looks like "your" site, which is well-worth doing for many enterprises. (For example, you can have a blog hosted by Blogger that has an address of instead of

It is ok to have an outisde group design and produce your web site, but make sure that you have access to make changes yourself. A good web site is all about dynamic content and to manage this effectively and affordably, you need to have access to make changes yourself.

Please add comments below with other suggestions and/or your own experiences with various options.

Another consideration for small businesses is finding cheap, but high quality graphics to use on your site. Make sure to be mindful of copyright issues! Open-licensed content (e.g. licensed under Creative Commons) is a good option for small start-ups. Flickr is a good place to look for photos. (Do an advanced search and indicate that you want Creative Commons licensed results for commercial use if that applies to you.) WPClipArt and the Open Clip Art Library are other sites to use. ___ has many sets of icons, but make sure to read the terms and license conditions for each.

Task Discussion