Re-Think Your Website Marketing Strategies
When you developed your business website, chances are that you stayed “inside the box” and modeled it after an existing marketing tool – a brochure, an advertisement, a catalog. But your website is none of these.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ It is a completely different medium.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ It has unique capabilities and unique power. But to exploit its potential, you need to do some strategic brainwork.
So maybe you didn’t strategize from the get-go.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Maybe you were in a rush to get something “out there.”Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ But it’s not too late. With this brainstorming guide, you can reconsider seven critical marketing questions – and maximize your website’s return on investment.
Website Marketing Beyond The Basics
No doubt, you have already tackled the foremost question – what is the purpose of your website? Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½What are its primary and secondary goals?Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ You should know these cold and be able to summarize them in twenty-five words or less.
You have already decided what content and graphics should go on each page.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ As for your audience, you probably analyzed target markets and thought about how the website could meet their needs (questions and problems).Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ And on the more technical side, someone probably helped you with your search engine optimization (SEO), so that your business would rank toward the top in search engine results.
So let’s skip those basics and technical aspects.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Answering these deeper and broader questions will take you to the next stage in e-marketing success.
Have You Checked Out Your Competition?
Check out the websites of your five biggest competitors.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½What do they have in common?Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Which of their pages make you envious?Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Make a to-do list of everything you see on other sites that you want on yours. Whatever competitive edge they have, you’ll want to match it — or even outdo it.
But also scour the competition to see what’s lacking. Is there a gap your site can fill?Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ If yours is the only one boasting a special feature, it will put you ahead of the pack.
Is Your Home Page Pulling Its Weight?
Your homepage has a huge responsibility – it has to do so many things, so quickly.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ People landing on your homepage after a search will scan it for about twenty seconds to decide if it’s what they’re looking for.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ They’re in a rush.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ They won’t read all the words – they’ll just skim and scan.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ They’ll make a quick judgment based on a first impression.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ So it better look professional. Your homepage also needs to clearly convey – at a glance:
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ What you do
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ How you’re different and better
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Why they should click further into the site
Your homepage must have the basics (logo, tagline, navigation menu), but keep in mind that your competition is only a click away.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ State your unique selling proposition on the homepage, and write dynamic copy that will make visitors want to drill down to other pages.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Use lay-out, color and typeface to guide them to the information they’re looking for, and draw them in further.
Does Every Page Make a Call-to-Action?
Most likely, your website was created to achieve one or more of these marketing goals:
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Drive traffic to your physical location
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Increase calls for appointments
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Increase orders
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Increase requests for information
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Increase registration (for a newsletter, club, event, etc.)
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Increase donations (nonprofits)
Achieving these goals is a tall order.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Your web content — and images, to some extent — have to do all the selling.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ There’s no human being to give a persuasive sales pitch. All you have are words, so your text needs to be punchy and effective.
Toward the end of each page, include prominent text that pushes visitors to take action.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Calls-to-action are especially effective if they follow a testimonial or special offer. Be direct – don’t assume that the next step is obvious.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Display a big red box saying, “Call (555) 555-5555 for a no-obligation appointment.”Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½Include a link in large font that says, “See our complete summer catalog.”
Have You Considered Each Stage of Buying Cycle?
Ask five marketing experts, and you’ll get five naming schemes for the stages in the buying cycle.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ It doesn’t matter what you call them – they still act as excellent tools for brainstorming about your website content.
How will your website meet the needs of these buying stages?
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Attention, Interest, Desire, Action
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Awareness, Desire, Comparison, Purchase, Augmentation, Replacement
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Browse, Evaluate, Transact, Transact Repeatedly
Examine the terms in these lists and apply them to your website.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ If you sell products, do you display Related Products in each listing?Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Do you have a Comparison Tool?Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ For repeat customers, do you make it quick and easy for them to sign in and place an order?
Does Your Website Establish Trust and Credibility?
Nothing establishes credibility like testimonials and third-party endorsements.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Do you have a paper file of testimonials or customer letters socked away? Go through it and choose the best statements to customize for the web.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ If you don’t have anything currently, make plans to ask your best customers to sing your praises.
Another way to establish credibility is with outbound links — linking to other websites.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ You’re probably a member of a Chamber of Commerce, and maybe the Better Business Bureau. Include those links.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ And use this list to brainstorm some more:
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Upstream companies
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Downstream companies
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Business partners
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Professional Organizations or Industry Associations
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Objective sources of industry-related information
Credibility and professional expertise go hand-in-hand.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ What material could be used on your website to showcase your company as a source of knowledge?Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ A white paper?Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ A “how-to” guide?Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ The latest relevant statistics?
How well do you promote your website?
Your website has the potential to really boost profits, but if no one knows about it, the potential is worthless.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Search Engine Optimization may be the centerpiece of your promotion, and that’s great.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ But you need to include your URL everywhere possible:
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ On all marketing collateral (including promotional items and freebies)
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ On signage
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ On business cards
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ In advertisements
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ In phone directory listings
Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ In every email
Do you use your website to measure the success of other advertising?
Your hosting provider can provide you with detailed statistics about your website traffic.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Use these metrics to measure the success of your advertising – with speed and accuracy that’s impossible in the offline world.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ If your newspaper ad last Sunday included your URL, was there an uptick in overall traffic — or even better – in online sales?Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ To really measure advertising success, direct customers to unique landing pages in each ad (www.widgets.com/gazette), and then evaluate the landing page statistics.
Getting the most from your website is an ongoing challenge. Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½At no point can you ever say, “Our website is done.”Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ New marketing data will spur changes in your web tactics.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ Continuous sharpening and refining is crucial.Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ So mark your calendar for recurring sessions to rethink your web goals and strategies.