Marketing on the Web for Dive Centres

In the late nineties, this looked like the holy grail for dive centres (and many other businesses). Get a few web pages together with some fancy graphics, bright colours, and some free animated icons, and customers will email you bookings by the score.

Some of those pioneers have done well, but far more have fallen by the wayside. As the technologies of the web have developed, and more importantly, as everyday use of the web has grown, there are far more companies who have failed to make money out of the web than those who have made money. The common problems with diving websites are :

  • Not getting enough traffic. If you don't have a top 5 listing in Search Engine (i.e. Google) pages then you will not get visitors to your site. Any position lower than the top 5 just will not generate significant traffic. Most other directories, link exchanges, 'featured listings' and paid-for listing positions may provide a few leads, however far fewer than a top search engine listing.
  • Lack of focus and direction. The website does not have a direction that it keeps pushing the visitor, so people end up browsing but not buying.
  • Lack of good, original content that answers common questions. We all use the web to get questions answered, such as 'what is the diving like here', 'If I take a course what will it involve', 'what facilities do they have'. If your diving website is not showcasing either your diving sites or explaining your service effectively then you will fail to answer common customer questions.
  • Lack of differentiation If the potential customer cannot see why you are better or different from other websites/dive centres he has no reason to book with you.
  • Not learning from the visitors.Collect website statistics and you will spot the problems quickly, find out what works, and be able to fine tune your website to get even more business.
  • Failing to handle enquiries properly and respond quickly.Whenever I dive abroad I am amazed at how many centres give a poor, slow, unhelpful response to my questions.

Putting together a few web pages and hoping for the best is no longer an option as there are lots of people with better websites, gaining business from their sites already. If you want to get significant business from your website, then be prepared to invest in SEO, content development, response systems, and a design which reinforces your brand values and your differentiating factors.

Top five tips for making money from your website

  • Invest in SEO and get a top ranking position.
  • Get good survey data and statistics from your website, and get to understand who is looking at the website and what they are looking for.
  • Create great pages which answer the customers questions and enthuse them so that they contact you.
  • Give them plenty of technology options to contact you (eg phone, e-mail, web-form, Skype etc)
  • Put in place the 'human' systems to respond and reply effectively and get the booking!

Bringing Traffic to your website

The first and most important step in getting traffic to your website is to get yourself a top position in the search engines. That makes it sound easy! The reality is however that every other diving centre in your area is trying to do exactly the same. The techniques for getting a top listing are called Search Engine Optimisations (or SEO), and they can include all sorts of 'under the covers' tricks which will make your site more search engine friendly, and help it move up the results pages. In addition you need to be actively link building all the time as this is still seen as a measure of the importance of a website.