Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global Register Now » Every small business loves the exposure, empathy and sense of community that having a website that’s a daily destination for consumers can generate. But getting people to visit on a regular basis can be a challenge, especially if updates are infrequent or all you have to offer is the occasional monotone press release or product announcement. Thankfully, building a website that’s “sticky” enough to keep users engaged and coming back doesn’t have to require investing thousands or reinventing yourself as the next online media empire. All it takes is a little elbow grease and personal touch, as indicated by the simple strategies below, each designed to send your homepage’s daily number of visitors soaring:Connect and Communicate: Make no bones about it: Blogging should be an essential part of any modern website. After all, a few clicks is literally all it takes to post updates in real-time around the clock, creating a steady stream of content that promises something new and exciting with every visit. Better still, professionals at all experience levels have the capability of readily doing it, and the practice also helps put a personal face on your organization, shining the spotlight on the individuals behind it. However, to really captivate an audience enough to keep them returning, take note: You’ll also need to provide content that’s dynamic, unique and offers measurable informational or entertainment value, plus speak in a language that all can understand. In short, the occasional pre-approved sound bite from the HR guy or gal won’t cut it. Rather, you need to address audiences like you’re having a normal conversation, and provide content with meaningful substance to the reader. Making-of articles, features detailing how to get more from your products, partner profiles, project diaries, step-by-step how-to guides, interviews with notable personalities or internal stakeholders: All present compelling ways to connect with audiences while also keeping them interested and informed, providing ample incentive to keep coming back.Emphasize Community Building: As social media insiders well know, creating a sense of community around your website is one of the most powerful tools for engaging and ultimately enthralling prospective fans. But doing so doesn’t simply mean throwing up a sponsored message board then leaving it to stagnate, or e-mailing customers sporadic newsletter updates that regurgitate existing material easily found elsewhere. Rather, you have to not only encourage discussion and actively take part in conversations by dedicating internal time and resources, but also make customers feel as if they truly have a voice in the discussion by listening to their concerns, responding and sourcing feedback at every opportunity. Implementing programs that recognize and reward valued contributors is also vital, as is creating fan-based initiatives that allow community members to contribute and share ideas, concepts and creations of their own. Even simply giving enthusiasts the chance to submit designs for your next fundraiser’s logo or arranging times where they can chat with top execs to provide input on upcoming ventures won’t just engender goodwill. They’ll also excite and empower a legion of amateur brand ambassadors–an essential source of free ongoing updates and constructive conversations, which will both attract users to and keep them enamored with your site.Design for Mass Distribution: Sharing is good–even more so if you’ve got a message worth spreading and it winds up in front of millions of eyeballs. As such, you should be not only updating your website with unique pieces of content (surveys, research reports, custom editorial clips, guides to solving common problems, unique looks behind-the-scenes, etc.) designed to grab viewers’ attention, but also making everything from blog posts to pictures, photos, PDF documents and videos shareable, embeddable and ready to be commented upon or re-tweeted via social media platforms. When it comes to corporate assets, the tendency–especially among hyper-competitive start-ups–is always to tightly hold and control. But often, the more powerful strategy is to design pieces of content with the specific idea in mind of seeding them throughout the user community, as it’s a great way to build brand awareness. Beyond heightened exposure and additional media mentions, using your website to disseminate unique, specially branded pieces of content can also lead to improved search engine optimization results through a larger number of incoming links. And, more important still, generate heightened word of mouth surrounding your homepage, letting countless potential readers know exciting things are happening there on a regular basis.Focus on Value: Exclusive specials, contests, promotions and timed discounts can all be powerful drivers of website traffic, especially in these cost-conscious times. By offering direct bargains and rebate programs on both an ongoing and sporadic basis through your online headquarters, you can keep customers’ interest piqued, and generate additional sales. These marketing programs become even more valuable when coupled with Facebook, Twitter and other social marketing tools, which have the potential to help news spread like wildfire online. Just make sure that the only place such bargains can be found is on your homepage, and be consistent in terms of the pages to which you drive this traffic, to establish in shoppers’ minds the importance of regularly checking a certain destination. Similarly, establishing relationships with key bloggers and members of the media can also help reinforce the message, as can a regular series of e-mail or newsletter updates designed to inform current and prospective buyers. Customers get to save on purchases while you benefit from enhanced publicity and heightened sales, creating a win-win situation for all.Use Targeted Demonstrations: While special membership options, premium subscription packages and frequent buyer programs can all prove great incentives, services that you freely give away are often just as important as those that you reserve for more exclusive clients. Whether you’re looking at offering complimentary computer virus scans by having users visit your homepage, providing a suite of free continuing education resources or simply hosting an archive of complementary, corporate-branded webinars on software engineering, realize: Providing helpful services or information at no charge that solve pressing, evergreen problems or answer important questions can all serve to generate a steady source of online traffic, and provide a ready supply of leads to upsell on premium services. Sometimes you have to give in order to get. It may seem counterintuitive, but ultimately, the practice makes a ready way to demonstrate your organization’s capabilities to a potentially lucrative client base, while also giving them a taste of the benefits to be had by partnering on more advanced or long-term services. Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box.
Dominic Lennon has been appointed as interim Joint Director of Fundraising for Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, the largest NHS related charity in the UK, and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, two of London’s oldest and largest teaching hospitals.The Charity is an endowment, grant-giving and fundraising charity, which promotes excellence and innovation in healthcare services and medical research.Lennon will be working closely with both the Charity and Foundation Trust in developing a fundraising strategy that builds on the success of the recent campaign by The Evelina Children’s Hospital Appeal which generated over £10 million for equipment, services and facilities for the new Evelina Children’s Hospital, which opened in 2005. Advertisement AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis9 New Joint Director of Fundraising at largest NHS charity About Howard Lake Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world’s first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp and co-founder of GoodJobs.org.uk. Researching massive growth in giving. Howard Lake | 18 June 2007 | News Tagged with: Management Recruitment / people 83 total views, 3 views today AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis9 He was Interim Consultant Director of Fundraising for Barts & The London NHS Trust and Barts & the London Charity. Before that he was Head of Fundraising for the British Red Cross and Head of Corporate Marketing for Mind.He has extensive experience developing strategic marketing and fundraising programmes with a broad range of health organisations.
A selection of health policy stories from California, North Carolina, Texas, Massachusetts, Kansas, Wisconsin and Colorado.CommonHealth/WBUR: Mass. Gov.’s 11th Hour Proposal On Reining In High-Priced HospitalsThe House and Senate are under the gun to reach an agreement on how to lower health care costs while improving care. A conference committee aims to have a bill out on Sunday. Their deadline is Monday evening. In the meantime, several major issues are still unresolved, including what to do about hospitals that use their market clout to demand high prices that are not based on higher quality. Attorney General Martha Coakley, the state’s top insurers and several consumer groups argue that price is a critical issue. “Any meaningful health care reform legislation must include efforts to address the market power of providers and the negative impact on costs that we identified in our reports,” said Corey Welford, Coakley’s chief of staff, in a statement (Bebinger, 7/26).San Francisco Chronicle: $100 Million OKd For Stem Cell Research California’s stem cell funding agency on Thursday approved nearly $100 million in grants for research into heart disease, cancer and spinal cord injuries, and to the cheers of dozens of patients and their supporters, it also awarded money to rare but devastating diseases with no cure. In all, eight research projects – including three from the Bay Area – were granted $151 million in state funding by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine at its annual grant review meeting in Burlingame (Allday, 6/27).North Carolina Health News: NC Proposes Plan To Move Mentally Ill From Adult Care HomesAfter 13 months of negotiation with federal officials over resolving North Carolina’s longstanding practice of housing mentally ill people in old folks’ homes, the state has a plan of action to move mentally ill residents into the community. State officials say they’re ready to take the first steps at implementation. The plan answers complaints made to the U.S. Department of Justice two years ago by Disability Rights North Carolina that alleged the state was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act by housing people with mental illnesses in facilities, originally meant to house the frail elderly. The U.S. DOJ investigated the complaint, and last summer agreed North Carolina was breaking the law, and also was in violation of a Supreme Court ruling that calls for housing to integrate people with disabilities into the community (Hoban, 7/26).California Watch: Prescription Drug Monitoring System Running Low On FundsThe state’s prescription drug monitoring program, which was dealt a major blow amid state budget cuts, is still operating but may run out of money by the end of this year, according to the attorney general’s office. The program, called CURES, is used by law enforcement to track the prescribing of doctors suspected of dispensing too many addictive narcotic pain medications. Doctors also query the database to determine whether patients are “doctor shopping,” or seeking potent drugs from multiple sources to feed an addiction (Jewett, 7/27).KQED: Primary Care Efforts To Involve Patients In Decision MakingAll day, every day, people make medical choices that have repercussions for common yet dangerous conditions like asthma, heart disease and diabetes. Although chronic disease takes a greater toll on people with lower socioeconomic status, chronically ill patients are part of every community. In California and across the country, public health officials and physicians keep searching for the best way to get patients involved in improving their health (Harris, 7/26).Reuters: Molina Healthcare Reports 2nd-Qtr Loss, Texas WeighsHealth insurer Molina Healthcare Inc reported a second-quarter loss and warned that enrollment in its Texas health plans may decline in the third quarter as higher medical costs in the region eat into premium revenue. … The company said higher costs in Texas “had a disproportionately large impact on its overall financial results” as the region contributed about a quarter of Molina’s total premium revenue in the second quarter (Siddiqui, 7/27).Boston Globe: UMass Medical Gets $6.7 Million Federal Grant To Battle Health DisparitiesResearchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School say they will use a new $6.7 million grant to battle significant health disparities in the region by using a grassroots approach that features patients telling their stories to inspire others. The school announced Thursday that it was awarded a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to establish a new Health Equity Intervention Research Center with scientists from UMass Boston (Lazar, 7/26).Kansas Health Institute News: Report Questions Economic Viability Of Mid-Level Dental ProvidersSo-called mid-level dental providers would not be an economically viable way to extend access to oral health care in Kansas and four other states, according to a report released Wednesday by the American Dental Association, a dentist group. But the models used in the report are not comparable to the mid-level model being proposed in Kansas, said proponents of licensing Registered Dental Practitioners here. The report examined the economic viability of three mid-level models: dental health aide therapists, dental therapists and advanced dental hygiene practitioners (Cauthon, 7/26). Modern Healthcare: Wis. Shared-Savings ACO Teams With AetnaAurora Health Care, Milwaukee, will collaborate with Aetna to offer commercial health insurance plans through Aurora’s accountable care organization, according to an Aetna news release. The Aurora Accountable Care Network will provide Aetna plans primarily for small and midsize businesses in Wisconsin, although plans for large, self-funded employers will also be available, according to Aetna (Selvam, 7/26).Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Aetna, Aurora To Begin Offering New Health PlanAetna Inc. will begin offering a new health plan for employers next year that is tied to Aurora Health Care’s network of hospitals and doctors and that guarantees to limit future increases in premiums. Aurora is willing to guarantee that costs will increase at a slower rate than in the employer’s previous two to three years, provided employees and their families get nearly all their care from the health system’s doctors and hospitals. The potential savings will vary by employer, said Rick Klein, executive vice president of growth, marketing and development for Aurora (Boulton, 7/26).Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): ‘Hotspotting’ Health Revolution Comes To AuroraThe Colorado community devastated by a mass killing will now become one of only four sites selected for the most promising revolution in health care: hotspotting. The movement began with a different senseless shooting in 2001 in Camden, N.J., a city that tops the country for both crime and poverty. … The Aurora experiment aims to save millions in hospital costs while also giving people better care. Volunteers, health workers and church activists will put into practice the hotspotting concept that [Dr. Jeffrey] Brenner pioneered. … The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation awarded Rutgers a $14.3 million grant in June to pilot the Camden model in four communities: Aurora; San Diego; Allentown, Pa.; and Kansas City, Mo. The goal is to find the costliest patients; save $70 million on their care in the four communities; and reinvest the savings to provide better health care (McCrimmon, 7/26).California Healthline: Governor Signs Veteran-Benefit BillThe governor added his approval Tuesday to that overwhelming support, signing AB 1869 by Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles) into law. The legislation affects approximately 130,000 veterans who remain uninsured despite possibly being eligible for federal Veterans Affairs health benefits, according to a Senate analysis of California Health Interview Survey data compiled by UCLA. It’s possible that some of the 174,000 veterans who receive Medi-Cal benefits in California might be eligible for federal veterans’ benefits (Gorn, 7/27).The New York Times’ City Room: Con Ed And Union Reach Contract AgreementThe terms of the four-year accord were not announced. Con Ed had angered the union by demanding changes in pension and health care benefits and by cutting off union workers’ health insurance at the beginning of the lockout, which was a defensive measure against the threat of a strike. The company reinstated health coverage after workers had been off the job for two weeks (Barron and Newcomer, 7/26). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. State Highlights: Mass. Lawmakers Struggle To Reach Agreement On Cost Controls