What purpose does your website serve in your business’ marketing mix? How do you know when you need to change or rebuild your website?
Concrete and specific answers to these questions are key to getting the most from your website. Paying the money to get one up and running merits thinking strategically about how it will help your business succeed.
The most fundamental marketing activities your website should support are:
- Present and celebrate your brand
- Show your product/service offerings
- Inform visitors how to contact/find your business
At its most simple, a website is a digital yellow pages ad. The site establishes information and identity and easily allows visitors to access that information to make a purchase decision. If your site struggles with these elements, seriously consider a website redesign before attempting to leverage more advanced tools in online marketing.
Sites like these need to roll out major updates whenever there are changes to the three basic categories.
- Has the brand changed? The website needs to be updated to reflect those changes.
- Have products or services been altered? The website needs to be updated.
- Has contact info changed? The website needs to be updated.
Sites in this style are common but are losing popularity for one major reason; they are a passive marketing effort. The amount of money invested in a website can be a significant portion of any marketer’s annual budget. So, ask yourself, “Do I want to spend a lot of money on a marketing platform that does not actively work to bring in revenue?” If your answer was no, then follow me to Advanced Website Marketing.
Advanced Website Marketing
All of the advice in this section is based around building your website to actively draw in business and meet specific goals. If your current website was not laid down in a way that supports these abilities, do not be surprised if you need to invest in a full site re-build and redesign.
- Research – You need to know about your target audience and how they interact with your product. You need to know the lifecycle of your product and how your consumers interact with your product and brand. You need to know how influential your website is in the purchase decision of your product. You need to take the time to understand all of these elements to properly plan out the site you want to build. Create user journeys, review case studies, conduct interviews, review competitor trends, collect as much information as possible to create a strategy for your website.
- Build the site with the user in mind – Don’t build the site you want; build the site your users want. Plan on the functionality that they need to smoothly interact with your brand and information. Give your users the power to inform themselves about what makes your offering unique and then spend their money with you.
- Make your website findable – Leverage consistent digital marketing campaigns (SEO, Retargeting, PPC, Social Media, emails, the list goes on) to draw members of your target audience to your site.
These three elements build on each other. Spending money on digital marketing will only bring a good ROI when the site is built well enough to generate business. A site can only be built well enough to generate business when the proper research has been constructed to plan its strategy. When all three of these elements are properly integrated, your website becomes a lead-generating machine.
Major international brands follow these steps in creating their websites. If you have ever dreamt of building a site like Apple’s for your own business, then this is the framework to follow. And make no mistake; the grander your plans for a website, the higher the price tag. Amazon.com was not built on a five-figure budget and hope; neither will your e-commerce site with multi-level filters, search bars and AJAX rendering.
The site you need for your business depends on how it plays into your marketing mix. You’ll get the most out of it when it’s an active tool for bringing business to you.