In today’s world of savvy technology-driven customers, your Website is your No. 1 business calling card. Is your company’s Website positioned to do that? Is it marketing you well? Is it helping you meet your sales goals?
Any marketing investment must be focused on realistic goals and mechanisms for achieving them. No matter what method or application you deploy, first and foremost, focus on your Website. Your Website belongs at the center of your marketing strategy and connecting with customers, an activity that’s the core of every marketing effort.
Think of your Website as an investment in brand marketing, creating awareness in the minds of your stakeholders. If you develop a plan with your customers in mind, you will get a return on your investment. To do that, you need to know your strategy, create good content, and have simple, obvious and intuitive navigation.
Four-Steps to Consider
A customer-centric Website should follow a four-step development plan, which includes your assessing and clearly understanding your brand strategy, customers, objectives and marketing goals.
Web Brand Strategies
The most successful brand strategies take advantage of the Web, using a well-designed and carefully planned identity that has clear, precise messages (content) that fulfill user experiences.
You need to know and understand your brand. What makes your company and its products or services compelling, attractive and unique against your competitors. This requires that you honestly evaluate what your brand value is to your customers and other important stakeholders.
What do you want your site do? Provide Information, lead generation or sales. Or, a combination of these. You need to know your site’s purpose in order to structure it. If you haven’t answered all of the above questions, your strategy won’t be on target and you’re unlikely to succeed with your Website.
Web Customer Relationships
You’ve identified your customers’ needs, but what is your company’s image and reputation among important stakeholders? Can these strengths be leveraged, and how? What do you want to accomplish with your customer relationships? Do you want to change them?
Other considerations include the organization of your Website. It should be organized so that it will be easy for your customers to accomplish their goals. Don’t confuse them by organizing it by what you’d like.
Look at your Website just like you would your office building, and that includes your location, front entrance and interior. To ensure you reach your customers, you need a Website that has curb appeal and is easy to navigate. Maximize your layout. Customers only give you a few seconds to find what they want or they’ll leave and never return.
What about the copy? Your Website should be loaded with good searchable content, and powerful words that convince your potential customers to keep reading and to help eventually gain their trust. Features don’t sell, benefits do. Solve your customers’ dilemmas. Address their problems, interests, values and how they want to receive service. And, don’t forget a call to action to get your customers to contact you. A call to action statement is needed to help motivate a customer to buy your product or service.
Also, be smart about your Website design. Consider the pros and cons of elements that represent a design aesthetic that is not needed and simply annoys your customers. And even worse, using these features makes it harder for search engines to index your site.
Other questions to consider include: where will the site be hosted? Any technology limitations? How many pages? What types of content, charts and photography do you want to use? Do you need any contact, request information or quote forms? Who will update the site in the future? Does the site need a content management system so an administrator can update it easily? Or, do you have a tech-savvy programmer? Who will write the copy? Are you linked to your social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter?
Having a great Website is a job half done. To complete the other half, you must drive traffic to your site. Fill your site with good search engine optimization (SEO) to get your site found. SEO done well will boost your Website traffic and help create a lead-capturing mechanism, and keep you ahead of your competitors.
Rather than only driving traffic to your Website, concentrate on getting motivated prospects and valuable customers to visit your Website. A few well-thought out key words and phrases that differentiate your core messages will increase valuable clicks and conversions. It’s much better to attract fewer visitors with precise words, who will convert to a sale, than thousands of random, web-surfing visitors.
And, remember that your Website can get old quickly. You must update your content frequently. Take down old products and services, keep press releases current, and provide relevant and updated information.
Launching a Website can be a real challenge. The key to developing a winning Website is to clearly identify your goals, know what you want to accomplish and work with a Website firm that understands both the front end (what people see – the design and content) and the back end (what makes it work – building and development).