I’ve consulted on the strategy, design and development of hundreds of websites. Every day I sit with a range of client representatives from IT personnel to marketing directors to sole proprietors to C suite executives. When it comes to their website strategy, some are luddites, most admit that they know just enough to be dangerous, and a few are quite savvy. But even the most sophisticated of the lot have only one or two goals in mind for their website when they initially walk through our door:
“We want more leads.”
“We want it to look better and be easier to use.”
“I’d like to be #1 on Google for what we do.”
“I want to be able to update it on my own.”
“We want to add new features.”
And while I agree that those are all great (albeit general) goals, very few clients are seeking websites that live up to their full potential. Why? They are unaware of the possibilities. Unless you are a professional in this industry, you probably have no idea of the real value that a holistically considered website strategy can provide. Fear not, that’s what we’re here for.
(NOTE: This information is predicated on the natural sales process for brick and mortar businesses, both B2B and B2C, rather than an exclusive online, e-commerce business. Although much of this information pertains to that model as well, that process has some specific nuances not covered here.)
If your website is not a resource for all of your separate audiences, you should consider a full redesign. Most businesses have 5 important audience groups that generate new business and your website should have something for all of them:
• New, direct potential customers
• Existing or recurring customers
• Strategic partners
Most everyone wants new business, and since you’re reading this, I bet you do too. And since most happy current clients are a source of new biz, I’ll focus primarily on goals that generate new business. New clients come your way via a variety of sources, from referrals to marketing efforts, but are ALWAYS the result of one thing:
#1: Awareness: Get On Their Radar
This one’s a virtual no-brainer. People can’t buy from or hire companies that they’re unaware of. So job #1 is putting yourself out there via every channel that makes sense. All great websites are reflective of the entity’s brand identity, market positioning, strategy and research. Knowing this will tell you where your desired clientele spends their time online and where they are most likely to engage. So let’s assume you’ve done all that and you know your brand and your audience. Now ask yourself these questions:
• Is your website updated with new, relevant content on a regular basis?
• Was your website developed around a marketing strategy?
• Is your website flexible enough to evolve from campaign to campaign?
• Does your website integrate with offline media or traditional campaigns?
• Does your website feature an easy to use CMS that allows you to add articles, blog posts, events, white papers, projects or new products that can lead to visitors finding you?
• Are you leveraging the proper social media channels to increase awareness?
Awareness leads to Traffic.
#2: Traffic: The Right Visitors
Driving new, qualified visitors to your website is a fundamental goal regardless of where your potential customer is in the sales funnel. Of course, the most desirable will be in the “ready to buy” stage and don’t have a company in mind, so their business is up for grabs. These folks are utilizing search engines, asking for referrals from trusted colleagues and social media, and consulting online review sites. Your website plays a vital role in ranking you both highly and favorably in those results. Not only is an effective website a powerful traffic generating tool itself via on-page SEO, but it also serves a support role in multiple forms of push marketing, both online and off. So ask yourself these questions:
• Does your website rank on the first page for popular, relevant keywords on Google, Yahoo or Bing?
• Are you utilizing dedicated, landing pages to present a specific product or service to a specific industry, vertical or pain point?
• Is your website properly integrated with and reflective of an effective social media strategy?
• Do you provide an easily accessible, user-friendly way for customers to provide both positive and negative feedback?
• If you have direct sales reps or strategic partners that sell on your behalf have you equipped them with the online tools that they need to send leads your way?
The great thing about this goal is that it is quantitative and easy to measure. Simple analytics tools can tell you if how many unique visitors your website receives, where they found you, what they were looking for and how engaged they were.
If you answered with a resounding “yes!” to those questions, congrats, you have a steady stream of qualified visitors on your website everyday. But are they converting to leads?
#3: Lead Generation: Perception is Reality
People make decisions to purchase your products and services based on the sum of easily accessible information coupled with how they feel about your company brand. In other words, they use a combination of logic and emotion. Ask yourself these questions:
• Is your website a direct, accurate representation of your brand?
• Is the content your visitor came for easily accessible, informative and compelling?
• Are your products and services presented in an engaging way?
• Does your content provide value?
• Does your website properly tell your story?
• Is your content written in your unique and consistent brand voice?
• Is your unique selling proposition obvious?
• Does your website content provide an emotive experience?
• Is the user-experience enjoyable?
• Is your website flow and intent clear and obvious?
• Does your website provide social proof such as testimonials, case studies, affiliations and credentials?
• Would you buy from or refer your company if you were in your visitors’ shoes?
• If your website was the only source of information available to a potential customer would it be compelling enough to persuade them to purchase your products or services?
• Do you provide convenient, user-friendly ways for visitors to access next-step information like contact forms, directions, phone numbers and appointment setting functionality?
• Does your website provide an ideal experience on all modern devices from large format screens to smart phones?
Lead generation is the easiest of all of these 6 goals to measure. Are people contacting you via your website or not?
All yeses? Wow, then you’re on roll. You’re schedule is full of meetings with potential clients. You’ve made the first cut. Well, you AND a few of your competitors. Now, how do you utilize your website to convert them to actual, spending clients?
#4: Conversion: The Missing Link
Providing potential clients with online tools and resources that they need in the crucial stage between contact and contract is often the most challenging and is a failure point for most companies. The sales process is often based on the traditional format of assessment to proposal to contract, and relies on primarily offline tools such as documents, presentations, and meetings. The good news is that because of this, the bar is set quite low and the opportunity to provide online tools that enhance and improve the traditional sales process and give you an advantage are accessible to those smart enough to understand their gravitas. Ask yourself these questions:
• Does your website double as a live presentation format?
• Have you equipped your business development or sales teams with useful online resources such as case studies or other material?
• Do you provide both online and traditional options for accessing proposals, demonstrations, and presentations?
• Does your website provide your potential clients with functionality or features that make doing business with you easier?
• Is your close ratio high? Do you get your fair share of business?
All things being equal, wouldn’t you rather do business with a company that makes your life easier and does so in a variety of formats?
Now that you’ve landed the client, how do leverage your website to help you keep them?
#5: Retention: Keep ‘Em For Life
Another often ignored but highly value use for a website is to assist in customer retention and ultimately, converting clients into referral machines. Again, as in the section on conversion, these tools should enhance the face-to-face relationship, not attempt to replace it. What does your website offer to your existing clients to keep them engaged and happy? How do you help them help you (help them)?
• Does your website provide your current clients with functionality or features that make doing business with you easier?
• Do you make important documents available online in a secure and conveniently accessed location?
• Does your website have a dedicated extranet or private account feature?
• Does your website integrate with important existing project management or client relationship software that makes life easier for both your clients and employees?
• Do you have an online referral program that clients can utilize?
• Do you provide dedicated, helpful, interesting content to them via a blog or newsletter?
• Does your website help provide exclusive offers or campaigns for existing clients?
• Does your website have any functionality at all that can help improve your existing relationship?
• Are you retaining the majority of your clients?
Bonus Content: For Experts Only
#6: Influence: An Indication of Mastery
So, at this point you’ve turned your website into a well oiled new business and customer retention machine. Consider yourself a black belt. But you want to be a ninja. Well, that requires you to not only be a thought leader, but a leader period, internally and externally. This requires converting clients, partners and employees into stark raving ambassadors that are happy to tell the world how incredible your company is, and your competitors into jealous, naysaying haters.
If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, it’s time to step up your game and improve your website. If you don’t get help at this Louisville web design company, please get help somewhere.
Or, if you think you’ve mastered the first five goals, give me a shout: 502-664-7951.