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Use a website strategy to build your online presence

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” 

Believe it or not, the same principle applies to creating an online presence.

No, you don’t need an ax to build a website. But you DO need to spend time preparing your strategy before you begin to execute any aspect of your website.

Having a great online presence, a website, is one of the keys to your marketing foundation. So it is vital that you approach your website development with all the strategic thinking that you put into the rest of your business.

Define your guiding star and follow it faithfully

Hubspot understands this and points out that the better you are at defining your goals and vision in the beginning, the more successful your website project will be.

And as a bonus, the entire project will go far more smoothly when you have a clear vision.

For your business, your website is often the first contact a potential customer will have with you.  It is, in the end, your ultimate marketing piece. 

Salesforce found that 80 % of customers felt that the experience they had with a company was as important as the product or service offered.  

And that experience begins with your website.

Therefore, it’s vital that you know exactly what you want your website to do.  Are you looking for sales leads? Do you want to establish yourself as a thought leader?  Will you be an ecommerce site?  

The content and images you put on your site should connect to your goals. This is true not just for the homepage, but for the entire site. 

Brand and message: Hand in hand

A successful website has a brand strategy. When doing research long before buying, a prospective customer will stop by your site to see what you have to offer and learn more about you.  And don’t forget your current customers who may be stopping by to see what is new.

In an earlier blog, we offered some tips for establishing your brand. Everything you do with your business—including building a website—affects your brand. Brand, in fact, may be your most valuable asset, so handle it with care.

With your goals in mind, what message do you want to get out to your website visitors? They should know immediately what your business is, what product or service you offer and what sets you apart from the competition.

That will be reflected in the words and images you use, as well as with the logo and colors used on your site. Your website should resonate with your target audience.

Finally, a reminder about brand consistency:  make sure that your website brand message is consistent with your other communications with your customers and prospects.  Are your emails, sales brochures or other pieces  consistent in their look, feel and message? Are all of your social accounts consistent with your web site too? 

Know your target audience and develop buyer personas!

Do you know who your customers really are?  Do you know their pain points, where they live or what they value?  

If you don’t know your customers, it’s time to start learning. And here’s why: your website.  

The truth is, your website is not just about you. It is just as much about what your website user (prospects/customers) are looking for as it is about what you offer.

When a user comes to your website, they will immediately be thinking, “How will this business benefit me?  What can I gain from them?”  And if you are not answering that question very quickly, your prospective customers will go immediately to your competitors. Guaranteed!

A case study by MarketingSherpa found that one company increased the length of visits to its website by 900% after implementing buyer personas.

Knowing who your ideal customers are is great and allows for better targeting of users. Once you’ve identified who your target audience is, then you want to focus on developing a more in depth set of buyer or customer personas. You can get as detailed or keep it as simple as you want, but the point is to get something written in a concrete manner.  You can easily find templates that will help you create those personas.

Once you have your buyer personas, make sure everyone on your team (including the people who will write and design your website) have them.

Set goals to track your progress

Management guru Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”  There is a lot of truth to this, especially when it comes to websites.

Having an idea of what your website analytics are and how they change is key to knowing whether your website strategy has been successful.

Whether you are redesigning a site or starting from scratch, there are some key indicators that you need to keep an eye on. And one of the best ways to do this is set up Google Analytics and Search Console accounts that monitor your website. 

You’ll want to track out:

  • The number of visits you have each month
  • The number of new sessions
  • Where your traffic is coming from (email?  social media?)
  • The length of time people stay on your site
  • What they are doing when they go there (signing up for a newsletter? Downloading a white paper?)
  • From which pages are they entering and exiting the site?

If you already have a website and are redesigning, then you will be able to track your progress fairly quickly after your new site goes live. But even if you are launching a website for the first time, you’ll need to make sure you use the feedback from your web analytics to monitor the progress of your website.

In the end, having a strong strategy before you begin executing your website will pay off many times. Because your online presence is one of the key foundational marketing tools, it’s really important to do it well.

If you want to find out more about the strength of your own foundational marketing, you can check out our redMAP process and take a quick quiz to find out what your score is in four key areas.

And if you want to know more, download our white paper, The Importance of a Solid Marketing Foundation. Let us know what you think!

Tomato Fish Is An Indianapolis Consulting Company Focused On Helping Small And Midsize Businesses Make Good Strategic Planning Decisions.