Beauty is only skin deep and this applies to a website too. It needs substance, a reason for being and it has to fulfil a purpose. Many enquiries that I receive are from companies whose websites need a revamp quite often because they are looking outdated or are not responsive. These are valid reasons as website trends and technology change very quickly so the life expectancy of a site is somewhat short. Having something that looks professional and ‘now’ is a consideration as a website’s appearance speaks volumes about the outlook and attitude of a company. However, design and visuals aside, the first question I’ll ask is ‘What is your website for?’
A website has a job to do and identifying its job is important at the beginning. On the whole, a company website should mirror general business objectives and goals and what the company wishes to achieve. Long gone are the days when the reason for getting a website was because competitors had one. Companies now recognize that websites are a tool for business and should work for the business alongside, and integrated with, other marketing strategies and social media.
So, what’s a website for? Start by making a list of goals that match your overall marketing plan. But, what are possible objectives and goals for creating a website that will work for the company’s business strategy?
Goal: Increase sales and revenue
How? Create good quality content, let your customers know you’re pleased to see them, create a user-friendly website that’s easy to navigate, ensure customer benefits are clear and how they can take advantage of them by including effective calls to action.
Goal: Increase conversion rate
How? Give website visitors a reason to pick up the phone to you, make services and benefits clear, make it easy for customers to contact you, ensure your site gives visitors a good user-experience, proof read all content carefully, don’t bombard visitors with too much information and make it clear what a potential customer needs to do next.
Goal: Raise profile and visibility
How? Consider a social media campaign to direct traffic to your website, include onsite and offsite SEO, blog regularly, use online directories and forums, use newsletter/email campaigns and think about offering special deals, promotions or holding competitions.
Goal: Be a voice of authority and be seen as an expert
How? Talk directly to your customers with easy-to-understand and jargon-free language, be authentic in what you say to engender trust, blog about your industry, offer free advice in your articles, include free downloads to help potential customers, offer your opinion in articles about industry changes/developments and comment on other industry websites’ blogs.
Goal: Improve customer service and interaction
How? Have dedicated customer support numbers, consider including a live chat facility, keep customers up-to-date using newsletters, include a ‘Submit a question’ section, create new content regularly and encourage sign up for new blog notifications, consider getting a business app for customers (not as expensive as you might think) and create Q&A video blogs (or vlogs) for inclusion on your website.
Goal: Target your ideal customer
How? Look at where your revenue and returning business is coming from, create a website which the design and ‘voice’ of the written content speaks to them, make your USPs explicit, tell them what they want to read, be engaging and personable, make content and messages relevant and ensure that the written copy is about them and not you.
Time for reflection
These are just a few examples of common websites aims. You may have others but it’s important to make sure they are realistic and achievable. If you have an idea that you want to blog twice a week to engage your audience or launch a social media campaign to raise your profile you need to figure out who will be doing this and that you have the time and resources available. If you reflect and decide that you don’t have the time, think of other ways of achieving these goals that is more in line with your capabilities.
It’s also pointless having objectives for your website if you don’t measure their success. If you’re planning to increase conversions, analyse how many more potential customers become actual customers after you launched your site. If it’s not as many as you hoped, ascertain why and consider making changes to website copy, images, calls to action or engage in things like promotions or social media campaigns.
As I wrote at the beginning, beauty is only skin deep and having a lovely looking site is not enough to achieve your marketing and business goals. But by making realistic objectives, defining effective methods of monitoring their success and targeting your website to a set of ideal customers a good website designer will help you create website where all elements are working towards a shared outcome which will increase your chances of online success and a site that truly works for your business. In short, one that is doing its job.