Business Websites

Marketing positions are increasingly devoted to creating content for business websites. Any business of any size has to have an Internet presence in order to be competitive in the marketplace, and these sites can serve any number of purposes. Businesses tend to direct their site content in four distinctly different ways: inner-directed, information directed, transaction oriented, and relationship oriented. Often the difference comes down to whether or not the website is set up to make direct sales.

The inner-directed site tends to be an electronic directory listing; its home page typically consists of a logo and an introductory statement. It does not feature specific products or services and doesn't encourage e-mail inquiries, since the business intends to attract traffic to its bricks-and-mortar locations. Its goal is to project an image, allow a user to find his or her closest location, and, as such, tends to be only a single page or two.

The information-directed site is like an electronic brochure, and ideally should expand upon the content contained in an already-existing paper brochure. Unlike the paper version, it is more readily changed and updated introducing customers to the business and describing in detail its products and services. This type of site can run to dozens or hundreds of pages. The transaction-oriented sites, also known as e-commerce, offer direct sales to customers and are some of the most frequently visited on the Internet. They have search capabilities, a shopping cart with credit card and PayPal options, and provide either an opportunity to ask questions or feedback furnished from other customers who have bought the same item.

The relationship-oriented sites aim to advance customers through the purchase cycle, sites such as Amazon and eBay. They create awareness and promote comparisons, because sometimes merely supplying more information than the competitor wins the sale. Consummating a transaction is never the end of the line-it's the midpoint of an ongoing relationship.

Customers will hear from these businesses again and again, and will move through the reinforcement stage to the final part of the cycle when they have joined a larger community advocating that company, and spreading the word by clicking on "Recommend this article" or "Recommend this website."

Last Updated: 05/21/2014