The web industry, like many industries in 2016 are confronted with a multitude of competitors and automated solutions that promise to ‘increase sales’, ‘generate leads’ and ‘build your brand’, all for the price of a coffee and a croissant. There are plenty of ‘instant website’ products that look fantastic and appear to be the magic, one-click solution for business owners, but there is a key ingredient that is neglected – strategic thought.
All too often I see websites with flashy stock photos and polished animated homepages, but they miss the point. There is no strategy or depth to the site. Jamming your content into the latest funky template design without thinking about your products or audience will not result in any of the benefits mentioned above.
Re-designing your website presence is so much more than the ‘look’. It is about peeling back the layers of your business and finding laser focused messages that your prospects and customers connect with. The magic only happens when this connection is given strategic thought and executed well. Your website will only become effective when you are speaking directly to each audience segment in the correct tone and lead them to a clear call to action
It can be easy for business owners to get caught up in the ‘look’ and ‘technology’ when building a new website that they forget that they aren’t the ones using the shiny new site – their CUSTOMERS AND PROSPECTS are.
Your entire strategic planning process should be customer-driven. These are the three key points to consider when working out your strategy.
There are plenty of marketing basics within this methodology that need to be explained in more detail, but identifying your core customer groups and researching where they live and breath online is the key.
The beef industry call this ‘from paddock to plate’. It involves identifying the pathways your prospects take in the buying decision, how they find you, how you attract them and how you sell to them.
This all needs to be modelled in the planning stages of your website. You have a very short timeline to capture your market and make the sale online, and if the flow between search, click and product offering isn’t there, your conversions will suffer.
So, you have nailed an acquisition strategy and have the perfect prospect sitting on your website homepage … what’s next?
Take control of how you want your prospect or customer to traverse your website. We call this ‘user flow’ or ‘customer flow’. Design clear pathways so that at every stage you are providing direction to the user about what you want them to do next. This maybe ‘calls-to-action’ (CTAs), trust building elements or additional content elements that assist in the sales process.
Understanding your user and their behaviour on your website will help you win more business more often. Using professionals to help you design these pathways with the latest technologies and tactics will keep you ahead of your competition.
In addition to having an awesome product, and attracting traffic to buy it, you also must plan how you are going to convert these hot prospects into cash.
In an ecommerce environment, making small, regular changes to your website can make a big difference in your conversion metrics. Service based businesses are more subtle and difficult to predict, but the same principal applies.
Recently a client said to me, “we now see our website as a living, breathing part of our business”. And, in today’s competitive business environment that’s exactly what it should be. Working with your digital partner throughout the life-cycle of your business, as part of your core strategy is more important than ever.
Building a new website is just the start of your online marketing that requires ‘strategic thought’ above technology and design. Your site may be the center of your entire marketing strategy – connecting everything together and converting the leads. Get the planning right first and the rest will fall into place.
Posted by Jason Hawkins on 7 July 2016