Repeat after me: Content, Conversions, Competition.
Having read “how not to build a website” you know the end goal is to create a website that manages expectations effectively, increases efficiency and creates loyal customers who keep coming back for more juicy content.
The age of BIG DATA
Today anything and everything can be measured, however, most small business owners and marketing managers often turn into frustrated artists when it comes to designing websites. Website design briefs (if provided) focus on the subjective and qualitative details such as font, colours and the use of white space. Few focus on the proven components that work to help marketing and sales processes – access to useful information, ease of website navigation, use of a search bar, compelling offers and simple contact strategies.
Your customers are being bombarded with up to 10,000 marketing messages and calls to action a day. This wealth of information drives poverty of attention and the modern world is suffering from choice apathy. There are a variety of tools that your customers can use to independently research and evaluate your product or service against those of your competitors, and most of these will be completed before they reach your website. You have to be really clear about what you want your website to do before you begin. Understand your customer, how they make decisions and how many steps there usually are in that decision making process before you begin. Where do you want people to go to on your website, and what actions do you want them to take once they are there. Only at that point do you then work on the design and structure of your website.
Content, Conversions, Competition
In the early days, companies either have no website or a thin site consisting of brochure-ware. They attract potential employees and early adopters. Eventually, the website has to evolve from a digital billboard into a powerful sales tool.
The definition of content marketing is: A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
It must be well-crafted, easily accessible, easily shareable, visually rich and have a clear call to action.
Create a content plan which reflects your current sales cycle and conversion points.
Give yourself ample time to write, edit and review your content and ensure every piece is designed to move a prospect to the next stage in the sale process. What content will you give away for free and what will you keep behind a gate, where some form of contact information is required to start a conversation.
A true business-centric website looks at conversions as a way to start building a solid structural plan for their site.
A conversion action is anything that brings your target audience to a specific step in the marketing and sales process.
At every step, ask what action do I want my target audience to take next? What can I do to help?
The plan should be developed in partnership with someone who has the time and skills to build your site in phases – from zero to stealth to sales acceleration. Build a site that can scale with your business, rather than one that becomes disposable because it was built without a plan. In reality, it’s often easier to ditch what you’ve got and start again rather than try to recover a rambling maze of pages where even the most dedicated customer can get lost.
Establish a basic SEO strategy of URL structures, keywords, on-page and off-page link-building.
Include title and meta-tags, calls to action, sharing widgets, make decisions on the use of flash and animation in content as this will affect its usability for certain people. Measure the experience constantly: traffic, time on site, page load times, bounce rates. Ask for feedback from your users on what could improve their experience and let them become partners and influencers in the evolution of your website.
The design and construction of your website are some of the most business-critical decisions you will make when it comes to marketing.
Structure and operation is absolutely key. Without that, all you have is a digital brochure of pretty pictures and content that will not convert as effectively as it could.
If you don’t think you have any competition, make sure you’re not suffering from dog design syndrome. This comes from the old joke “why do dogs lick their testicles? Because they can.” A recent study of 101 failed small businesses indicated 42% failed due to “no market need” – like dogs, they created a product or service because they could rather than because it was required.
Without competition, you don’t have a market. Without a market you don’t have customers wanting to find you, investors wanting to know the size of your market and who else is in it. Your website is an important part of the process for customers to be able to compare you to your competitors and make a decision. Help your customers understand your market better and why they should go with you.
If you can create a clear feature vs feature advantage over your competition, make it easy for people to see it. If not, know how your competition structure their sites, their processes and how they stack up against your website. For example, in marketing we see a lot of quirky websites with lots of colour, flair, imagery and video; we see a lot of informal slang, emojis and asterisks and we see a lot of “death by content” where blogs are being spewed out ten times a week and do not really provide that much useful information. In contrast, everything we do at EMARI is based on feedback and keeping things simple; thus our website has a simple menu of options that you can discuss with us as a starter for ten and focuses on the results we have delivered for our clients. Every blog is based on tens of conversations that we have with our clients and prospective clients so everything we create is a valuable resource in its own right that can be referred back to at will.