Landscapers learn how to make the most of their online presence at APL event

The hardest worker in any landscape business is its website yet few companies have any capability to measure the success of their online presence, says a computer whizz.

IT Genetics boss Paul Hodgen did a straw poll at a conference last week and found over three-quarters used the website in their business while a third reckoned it generated income. But out of over 50 delegates only eight measured the effectiveness of their website.

He told the Association of Professional Landscapers: "Who works hardest in your business? It’s your website. It’s online 24 hours a day 365 days a year to promote your services and reach customers. It never asks for a pay rise and never complains, takes sick leave or holidays.

"It can gather customer information and offer instant gratification to the person at 11pm who’s checking your website for landscaping work," he told the From Promotion to Profit seminar at Wyevale East Nurseries in Kent. "It’s also a great recruitment tool for potential employees."

Hodgen said 91 per cent of people these days used search engines for checking businesses, while a survey this June found 50 per cent checked details on mobile phones. Landscapers needed to consider how easy their online presence was on mobile devices.

"A customer comes to your website to satisfy a need and you have eight seconds to engage with them. You must keep navigation really simple, put your USP on the top of every page and don’t go mad with the paint brush – just because you are creative types keep colour simple."

Hodgen explained the AIDA maxim: attention, interest, desire, action. Action could be encouraging web users to sign up to a newsletter, offering free advice as a download or giving tips such as the 10 most common mistakes people make when using a landscaper.

Content, he said, drove your site so update it regularly and show off projects, which inspired people and gave them ideas while helping search engines optimise you site. Meanwhile landscapers should never limit communication to one medium; use blogs, videos and downloads.

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