When most organizations decide they need a new website (or web presence), they imagine things in two distinct steps...
- First, they want a great-looking business site with lots of fun tools and features.
- Then, once that's in place, they want a powerful Internet marketing plan designed to bring visitors straight to it.
That's an understandable approach – to focus on the product, rather the process – but it's also backward.
Before you deploy a new business website, you should already have a strategy for promoting it in place, specifically one that guides its design and creation, and then allows you to hit the ground running. In other words, your business website is a part of your bigger overall Internet marketing plan, not just a checklist of activities designed to catch the attention of a handful of buyers.
That means that important issues have to be addressed at the beginning of the process, rather than later on, such as...
1. The type of customer you want
Naturally, you want to know everything you can about your target market. That includes a profile that's about your specific ideal customer – the one who is likely to buy the most from you, and buy the most often – rather than everyone who might be in a position to purchase what you sell. In fact, it can often be just as helpful to know what kinds of customers you don't want as it is to focus on the ones you do.
2. The messages and formats those customers respond to
Age, income level, and other demographics can tell you a lot about what your specific buyers like, both in terms of messaging and the formats they prefer. For instance, some types of buyers like email newsletters, while others tend to respond more to social media posts. Most clients will want a variety of marketing techniques, but knowing where to concentrate your firepower first can make you profitable from the first day your new website is launched.
3. Your marketing advantages over your competitors
There are a lot of different ways that your unique selling proposition might be reflected on your business website, and in your online marketing plan. From the types of messaging or product descriptions you have to how large the photos are and the types of buttons or menus you have, it's important to not only know how your organization stacks up against competitors, but to make sure that comes through on every page.
4. An action plan for attracting buyers
Knowledge is important, but action is even better. Once you have all of this information gathered, you and your business web design team should put together a plan going forward that includes specific steps you'll take together to promote the website. These should include not only the activities, but also timeframes and intended results. That way, you don't just have a set of ideas, or simple checklist, but real, scheduled items you can use to increase interest and sales.
5. A follow-up mechanism that keeps buyers in your sales funnel
We'll talk about the sales funnel in a future article, but for the moment it's important to know that you never want prospects to leave your website without having taken some action that will result in more contact in the future. For instance, they might sign up to your blog feed, or request a white paper and register for your email newsletter. In each case, you are preserving some part of the relationship, so that you can make another offer to them in the future.
Without having any of these concepts already outlined, your business website might as well be a poster in your office. It won't matter how great it looks, because no one is going to see it or pay much attention.
Don't settle for the same old approach to business web design and developing marketing – one that leaves you with a great-looking product, but without the sales and leads you need to make the investment pay for itself many times over.