Your Website

Topics sovered in this section:

- The importance of your website

- Creating the best website for your Golf Club

- Necessary steps to building a good website

- Common mistakes to avoid

 


The importance of your website
 

The starting point for any club wishing to include e-marketing a part of its overall marketing strategy is to ensure that your website is up to scratch. It is the hub around which all of your e-marketing activity will revolve and it is therefore vital is up to the task.

Here are just some of the key factors which make your website such a powerful tool:

1. It puts you in control

Most small businesses admit that the thought of direct communication with their customers is scary at the same time as liberating. If executed properly (and it's not rocket science) internet marketing is the most powerful tool available to golf clubs today. You are in control of when, where and what you communicate to your prospective visitors and members.

2. It has low cost barriers to entry

Contrary to popular belief a good internet site does not have to cost you tens of thousands. Its most important role is showcasing your business and allowing you to communicate effectively with visitors by knowing who they are. Databases and data building is vital in today’s small businesses and a good internet site facilitates this. Most clubs make the mistake of commissioning a brochure-ware site which does not allow any two way communication. A website needs to be able to help your business grow.


3. You don’t have to be Albert Einstein

Another myth is that you have to have a degree in computer science to be able to run your golf club’s website. Wrong. A good website should have an easy-to-use content management system.


4. It can respond immediately to your business needs

Empty tee times to fill; need to sell last minute tickets to your social event, places still available in your Opens - the internet coupled with a good database of both your members, visitors and prospective customers mean that you can respond quickly to the peaks and troughs in your business


5. You can track the response and measure the success

Until now, response to a golf club’s marketing programmed has been difficult to track and the results almost impossible to measure - unless you have a Direct Marketer on your Marketing Committee! Yes, your society bookings may have gone up on last year but why? Making the internet the foundation of your golf club’s marketing means through free programmes such as Google Analytics and simple email reporting, you can track what sort of response a promotion is having and whether it is working - and change it quickly if it isn’t.

 

6. It allows you to build a database of your customers

Your golf club website is a valuable tool in collecting data about your customers. Firstly data on who they are and where they are located and then as you get more expert you can start to find out more about their habits and what they think of your business (see below). The importance of having your own customer data can not be under-estimated if you are to be control of your golf club marketing.

 

7. It helps you get to know your members and customers

The internet means you are communicating directly with you members and customers. They offer a wealth of information about your business and how well it is meeting their needs. Internet surveys, online polls, monthly emails, special promotions and offers which you can track, means you can build up a whole picture of your members and customers and target your marketing accordingly.

 

8. It removes geographical barriers

Reaching a widespread market has been expensive - until now. The traditional ways of golf club marketing, i.e.advertising and direct marketing, mean that costs considerations have usually forced clubs to concentrate on their immediate local market - along with all their competitors. A good website coupled with some easy to implement search techniques could mean you reaching customers in other counties - ideal for those clubs wanting more society bookings.

 

9. It allows you to combine forces

In every market there are businesses trying to reach the same people as you but for different reasons. There may be a local hotel looking to attract more guests; a local business group looking for more members, golf courses in other geographical areas looking for visitors or country members. Each of you can promote the other’s marketing need using your respective internet sites, links and communicating to each other’s customer databases.

 

10. Your website is on duty 24 hours a day

Think of your website as an unpaid employee, working on your behalf 24 hours a day, seven days a week. No more unanswered telephone calls, no more frustrated customers. They can log onto your website find out the information they need (can’t they?) and even carry the transaction. No more wasted time, no more missed opportunities and a happy customer likely to buy from you again.

Creating the best website for your golf club

You may not have a website or you may feel that your business has outgrown your existing site. Whatever the reasons at some point you are likely to look at developing your website to take advantage of the changes in technology or simply to ensure it is keeping pace with your business needs.

There are 5 key factors to consider when creating a website that is right for your club:

1. It needs to look good. It’s your shop window so a poorly designed site or one with out-of-date content will leave a very bad impression.

2. It needs distinct visitor marketing and member communication areas so you can effectively reach your two key audiences

3. It needs to be simple to update and manage with its own content editing system so you are not constantly waiting for your web developer to updates pages, often at a significant cost.

4. Data is king for any golf club looking to actively market itself and your website should work hard for you in gathering as much data about your customers and their habits as possible and then making it easy for you to use it in your marketing efforts.

5. Your website needs to promote your club. That means people need to find it, so pay special attention to your Search Engine Optimisation, links and other tools to get your website to the top of the search ranking pages.

 
Necessary steps to building a good website

1. Purchase all variations of the Domain Names

It is important to ensure that all the variations of your golf club domain name are registered in your golf club’s name. For example: www.greenvalleygolfclub.co.uk, greenvalleygc.co.uk, gvgc.co.uk.

This makes sure that all the way a customer could search for your club directly are covered.
If you discovered that someone else has already registered a name you would like, it may be possible to buy it from them. Otherwise, if you feel they are creating confusion about your business then you should seek legal advice. A good place to start is the official domain name registration site www.nominet.org.uk.


2. Define your needs - now and in the future

The following check-list may help you with defining what your website needs to do to keep pace with your business:

•professionally designed so it's easy to use, lasts several years and 'sells' your product
•easy to update i.e. content management system
•picture and images gallery
•document importing e.g. competition results, AGM minutes, competitions calendar
•live feeds such as weather, mapping service, industry news feeds
•search engine optimised i.e. appears on the first page of Google, so people can find you
•dedicated members area with unique login and personalised content such as handicap, competitions, my diary, members directory, tee time looking or tee time booking, special offers for the Pro shop and clubhouse
•fully transactional for members: buying tickets to social events, booking lessons online
•fully transactional for visitors: enter open events online, tee time booking online, booking lessons online.

•collects visitor and member data to build your database and automatically update it
•email templates and reporting
•marketing and IT support
•does not have expensive ongoing costs and is easy to add enhancements
 

3. Decide on who is going to design it, develop it and maintain it depending on your needs and budget.


There are several ways that you can commission your website and we've listed 3 main ones:


1. Member built and maintained

Many golf clubs sensibly dipped their toes in the e-marketing water by asking a member to build and maintain their website.

Advantages

•Usually very cheap! (Often the cost of an annual membership)

Disadvantages


•Reliant on the member to keep it up to date both in terms of content and with ever changing technology
•Difficult to upgrade to another provider for fear of upsetting your member

2. Off-the-shelf website package

There are companies which offer off the shelf website packages for golf clubs for around £2,000.

Advantages:

•Quick and effective way of getting a website live or improving an existing member run site.
•Offer members areas and visitors section with a choice of designs to overlay in your club’s colours
•Offer a content management system which should be simple to use

Disadvantages:

•Limited functionality e.g. no tee time booking

•No database building nor data collection capability
•No marketing or promotion of the site e.g. SEO


3. Bespoke websites

Golf clubs serious about e-marketing should consider commissioning a bespoke site with all of the functionality you need now and in the future. Taking time to consider the future growth of your online activity can save a great deal of money and effort and avoid major re-engineering of your website.

Advantages:

•Develop your functionality wish list
•Built to meet exacting SEO standards

Disadvantages:

•Cost (between £4,000 - £12,000)

Common mistakes to avoid

Whichever route you choose to build your website, also consider the most common mistakes:


1. Poor choice of keywords

Keywords are the words people use when searching for your club you need to make sure that they are right. Without them you will find it hard to drive traffic to your website. Make sure the person building your site is armed with a list of likely key words and built them into the website and content


2. Websites that play music automatically

Don’t. They are really annoying to the user


3. Out of date content

A real no. It sends out a bad message to visitors to see last year’s green fee prices, or to members if the social diary is not updated. People visit your website for information – so make sure it is on there, up to date and well presented


4. Poor structure and navigation

People get frustrated if they can’t find their way easily around a website. Make sure that your developer conforms to good website standards. This can include simple things such as underlining hyperlinks so they are easily identified.


5. Difficult colour schemes

Putting red words on a green background or endless white text on a black background may look good or trendy but is useless if no one can read it. Keep it simple and don’t let design over-rule its purpose.


6. Too much flash

Flash is when you can place animated graphics on a screen such as a golf ball bouncing across the page and into a hole. When done well, it’s good. When done badly or overused it can distract from your message, seriously slow your site down and also make it difficult for search engines. Keep it to a minimum.


7. It doesn’t work with your other marketing activities

Your website needs to be at the centre of all o your marketing activity. Your web address must be on every piece of literature- brochures, your score cards, notices. Your marketing activity should drive people to your website and once there they need to find the information they want.


8. Splash pages

These are pages that don't have any purpose, such as 'click here to enter the site'. Great sites have no more than 3 clicks to get to the necessary information - a splash page adds an extra click whilst not contributing anything.

 
  • England Golf Partnership
  • England Golf Trust
  • Sport England
  • Woodhall Spa
  • Get into Golf
  • GolfMark