By Paul Pruneau at Social Media Today:
Considering a new website for your business? If you’re relying on just a website developer, it could be anything but smooth sailing ahead.
Before you start down the wrong (or least expensive) path, it might be reasonable to consider a few essential objectives for your website.
For example, if you want prospects to really understand what you do, the value you provide and how you do it, your website’s going to have to do a lot more than just be pretty with functioning links.
Business goals should drive your website design. A modern website should help you:
- Attract more site traffic and visitors
- Convert prospects into leads
- Nurture leads into customers
- Measure the effectiveness of your efforts
Like it or not, you’re only going to accomplish this essential strategy through a structured website development process coupled with a consistent, tailored content creation program.
2. Forget build, launch and host.
A simple search online will reveal thousands of options and resources for creating a website. But the website “thing” is simply not enough today. More than ever, you need to consider your approach to all of the required components of an “online hub” for marketing. This should include how you will:
- Present the value that you offer to your target customers (Your Unique Selling Proposition)
- Enable rapid content creation & distribution in virtually any media (Content Management System)
- Provide customer interaction (Social Media & Blog Commenting)
- Optimize all content to be found with focused keywords (SEO)
- Facilitate thought leadership (Blog & Structured Content Marketing Plan)
- Support community building, connecting, influencing and sharing (RSS/email)
- Build and differentiate your brand = All of the above
3. Don’t let your brand value can get lost in the code.
Let’s be honest. Writing code in command line syntax is a far cry from developing a clear, differentiated and compelling expression of why your customers should consider you instead of your competitors.
And it’s reasonable to ask if a web developer is the right resource to guide you through a structured brand positioning process to define and document:
- a relevant and compelling summary of the value you offer
- a concise expression of the primary reason a prospect should consider you
- an authentic message grounded in a specific target benefit that can be “owned” in your marketplace
- a foundation for all website and communications messaging including: online, traditional, and social
Without agreement and alignment of all parties on this essential marketing element, what will your web developer create code for?
4. Embrace continual publishing.
Your website is not a one time event. Set-it and forget-it is so history. It’s now about how you’re going to address forever.
If you want to succeed with online marketing today, you need to become a YOUTILITY to your prospects and customers. As a continuous provider of education, insights and entertaining content that will aid your prospects and customers in helping them find, choose and use your product or service, a YOUTILITY can become the trusted online destinations that attracts visitors and keep them coming back.
Step back for a moment and look around. If you haven’t noticed, traditional ad messages are ignored, dismissed or worse, blocked online. Marketing automation experts, Marketo, have documented that 50-90% of sale is made before a prospect ever talks to salesperson.
In an environment like that, it’s time to align your marketing efforts with the shift in how people discover, share and act on content, resources and value. Today, that’s being done in 3 ways:
- Search—think Google, Bing & Yahoo
- Sharing—via social platforms (Pinterest, Facebook, SlideShare, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
- Subscribing—self selecting to receive content via email or RSS
To align your online marketing activities in this “post advertising era”, a consistent Content Marketing program will be required to succeed.
Still not convinced you need to do this?
- 46% of daily Internet searches start with research on products or services | source: Google
- Companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that don’t | source: Hubspot
- The more optimized pages you have in your website, you improve the chance of getting found and ranking high in search results | source: Hubspot
- Organizations that blog have +90% more inbound links than those that don’t | source: Optify
- Delivering high-quality, relevant & valuable content to prospects & customers drives engagement, action & revenue | source: CMI (Content Marketing Institute)
- Consistently creating great content is the key to getting inbound links and there’s is just no substitute | source: SEOMoz
5. Things change. And you will too.
As you start to embrace the idea of forever, you also need to get comfortable with change. Because all of the disparate, connected and essential technologies required to develop and deploy an online marketing hub (your website) are going to change. Probably a lot faster than you think.
So, before you box yourself into a proprietary or custom technology solution that can’t or won’t change, keeping your options open might be a better course. Look for and choose solutions that are supported with a deep bench of talented, global resources that keep refining, improving and enhancing the technical foundations of your website. Chances are that these options will extend the longevity of your website and make transitions to new or emerging improvements easier and less expensive.
Last century thinking could cause an inconvenient, expensive and unnecessary stumble.
6. Stop thinking about the website. Start developing a relationship.
Who should you turn to to address all of this on your journey to your new web site? And once you arrive, who will ensure that the continual content creation efforts required for online success today will be effective, efficient and engaging to deliver the results your looking for? The list of potential providers could include:
- Web Developer
- Branding, Positioning & Messaging Strategist
- Content Writer | Editor
- Marketing Communications Expert
- Social and New Media Platform Counselor
- Online Marketing Consultant
- Lead Generation Producer | Manager
- Ongoing Content Creation & Content Marketing Partner
- Graphic Designer
- All of the above
Consider the depth and or limitations of just a web developer or any one of these single resources. The wrong choice can have many unforeseen consequences on how long it will take and how much your website will actually cost.
Rather than trying to corral all of these vertical providers with their own agendas and siloed perspectives, turning to someone with a proven track record of integrating each of these disciplines to achieve the outcome sought by a customer might be a better path to take.
7. Your online brochure: RIP.
Without a robust online hub designed and built to address all of the requirements of online marketing today, success is questionable. Anything less than addressing today’s customer preferences and the dramatic shift that has taken place in marketing is just pretending. And it’s reasonable to question if alternatives will deliver meaningful, long-term business value.
Success in addressing this challenging process require proven expertise, a qualified resource, the right software and a commitment for the long term.
Don’t address these critical issues and embrace obsolescence because you website investment will quickly become irrelevant. Or worse, you can let your competitors establish a consistent thought leadership role in your domain of expertise while your SERP (search engine results position) never get to page one.
So how does your site measure up?
Did you recently finish a new website? Considering a makeover? Was your site redo a success? Did you choose the wrong resource to guide you through the process. Or did you overlook some or all of the requirements outlined above? We’d love to hear your first person experience. Please share.
Via Social Media Today.