Can you imagine standing on a random street corner waiting for a stranger to walk by so you could stop him or her to propose marriage?
Ludicrous? Absolutely, yet it’s an apt metaphor for how many businesses approach potential customers and their website.
It takes time and effort to think through the fundamentals up front: Who do we want to connect with? How will they find us? How can we develop a dialogue? How will we forge long-term business relationships?
Instead, many companies simply assign an intern or junior marketing employee to “promote us online,” with vague directions about “making us look impressive” or “sound like a bigger competitor.”
These sites may include links to a few related social media sites, but for the most part they’re structured like a digital billboard: isolated, simplistic and featuring only one-way communication (from you to them).
These sad sites virtually shout “buy, buy, buy,” without first seeking to understand what a visitor wants or needs – or even determining if there’s compatibility between their needs and your value proposition.
Smart websites are structured to help your company reach the right people in logical ways and, most importantly, include methods for you to stay in touch and build productive business relationships over time.
Plenty of thought also goes into making sure the site is friendly, attractive, easy to use on any device and highly responsive. To return to the marriage metaphor, your website should encourage prospects to want to see you again, not send them clicking away in search of a more suitable suitor–assuming they ever get to your site in the first place!
How can you create a smart website? Focus on making sure your site adequately addresses these three fundamental questions:
How will people locate your website?
More specifically, what marketing techniques will you be using to attract your target audience? Is it search engine optimization (SEO)? Pay-per-click advertising? Social media? Public relations?
Frankly, if your site is not optimized for search engines you’re probably wasting your time building a website. People find websites by using search engines, usually Google, so SEO should be first on your list of answers to this question.
SEO basically means that each search term for your site should have a specific landing page.
For example, if you want to be found for “Atlanta Luxury Hotel,” your site should have a single page that is optimized—written so the search term is in the page title once or twice, the description, and six times per 300 words of content on the page—for this term.
Use Google’s free keyword tool (https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner) to find out how often people search for terms or variations of those terms.
But don’t think you’re done after you’ve optimized a few landing pages. A blog with fresh, compelling content is totally necessary for search engines like Google to find and prioritize your site.
Invest in the services of an excellent writer to develop strong content that addresses questions and topics on the minds of your top prospects.
Leverage your investment by repurposing your original blog content and putting it up on content sites like slideshare.com, youtube.com and flickr.com.
Social media sites are important because they help build roadways back to your website. A service like KnowEm.com can lock down your firm’s name on a ton of social media channels.
If you’re just at the start of your venture, this is an economical way to ensure someone doesn’t hold your brand name hostage on a social site.
No matter which marketing techniques you employ, make sure your site is mobile friendly by using RWD or responsive web design.
RWD means when a visitor looks at your site on a smart phone it’s scaled to fit the smaller screen rather than on a “regular” browser on a desktop or laptop. RWD also helps your site to load faster on mobile devices, which is crucial.
Busy people will not tolerate slow-loading sites and will simply move on before they ever see your carefully crafted marketing messages and offers.
Check out https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/, which is a free Google tool that not only shares results on how quickly your site pages load but also advises what to do to make your site load faster and work better on mobile devices.
How will visitors engage with you?
Should they pick up the phone and call you? Sign up for something? Join your social networks? Here are some techniques that work well on Intertech’s website:
- Have a simple sign-up for your newsletter (remember content is king) and make sure it’s optimized for mobile devices. More than 50 percent of people check emails on a mobile device first, zap what they don’t want to read, and then read the rest on a regular screen. Make sure your content makes the cut.
- Ask visitors to fill out a simple informational form (tie it to your customer relationship management database) in exchange for whitepapers, e-books, videos and other information offers. Never have an “email us” on your website. Instead, use forms that allow you to see where traffic is coming from in Google Analytics (more about that below).
- When someone fills out a form, start a “drip campaign,” or series of follow-up emails with additional content. Send about eight purely informative messages before you pitch what you do. You want to build trust before asking for their business.
- Have shortcuts to all the firm’s social media sites and create redirects to make it easy for people to find your presence on social sites. For example, http://facebook.intertech.com redirects to https://www.facebook.com/Intertech)
- Make it easy to share your site’s content using addthis.com. You also can “get credit” in search engine algorithms and a link when somebody copies and pastes your site’s content into an email or document using http://www.tynt.com
How will you know what’s happening on your site?
Use Google Analytics and the GA tracking code throughout your site.
This ensures you will know how people find you, how they behave on your site, and who converts (a conversion is a user taking a buying step on your site: downloading a whitepaper, requesting more information, or making a purchase.). This information also allows you to calculate a cost per lead.
Most importantly, be patient and remember that most people who come to your website won’t become a customer. In fact, the average conversion rate on the Internet is around one percent, meaning only 1 out of 100 visitors will end up contacting you, signing up, or buying something.
And that one percent won’t do anything until he or she has gotten comfortable with your company through multiple interactions (it’s a courtship after all).
Finally, have a standing weekly meeting with your marketing team to review data from all of your strategies to allow for evaluation and encourage continuous improvement. If you do all of this, you just may be one of the lucky sites to enjoy many happy returns.