The first two steps to successfully marketing online and through your website have little to do with online marketing itself. However, it’s critical to complete them before your campaigns begin. These two steps are Setting your Website Objective and Defining Your Online Target Market
“drive more sales”, “get more leads”, “reduce product support demands”, “gain access to new markets”, are a few of the more common responses. We then take a look at their site. It will often focus on who they are, their history, their commitment to customer service; all noble things, and usually all without a strong call to action that matches their now stated objective.
Setting an overall website objective is not easy but the benefits are huge.
Not easy: Real estate on the web is cheap. Add a page, add 100 pages, there is still plenty of room to expand. So it’s easy to quickly develop multiple objectives for your site.
If the objective is to drive more sales, then the Home page must be geared towards that. It will need to highlight and focus on information and calls to action (CTAs) to take web visitors down that path.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you won’t still link to support and careers sections. You just won’t focus on them on your Home and other main section pages.
Get Specific: Now if “Drive more sales.”, is your first-cut objective, you need to get a little deeper, more specific. Will you be closing sales over the internet (a la eCommerce), or are you driving the new prospect to call you or email you? What level of knowledge should the prospect have before they contact you? Should they know the part number or should they just know that your company is the one they need to call?
Thus, your objective may evolve to “Drive qualified prospects to contact us to get detailed information on which of our products best suits them.”
Huge Benefits: Once you’ve set your objective, everything becomes easier. Writing content (often the biggest challenge a company has), becomes clear. The path with which you lead visitors through your website becomes clear (e.g., entice, inform, qualify, call-to-action). Site architecture and layout become clear.
You can now focus your efforts and resources around fulfilling that main objective. The sections that are not directly relevant to your main objective still support that main objective.
Now that you’ve clearly set your website objective, the next step is to know who your target audience is and it may not be who you think.
All these questions and a lot more need to be asked and answered. Initially, you’ll use this information to help with the design of your overall site. You’ll want the proper balance of images to text. You’ll want to set the text level at the appropriate level of detail. You’ll want to write to their probable education level.
Ultimately, the answers will drive the theme of your site. They’ll drive the type of online advertising you’ll use. They’ll drive the design of advertising landing pages. They’ll drive the keyword phrases you’ll target in search engine optimization. They’ll drive your call-to-action.
Now you’re ready to start your marketing. Knowing what you want to accomplish and whom you want to accomplish it with, you’ll be able to structure the right ads, emails, keyword phrase targeting, etc. You’ll be able to focus resources on the proper additional web media (e.g., blogs, podcasts, more web pages, flash demonstrations, etc.).
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, this will be the end of the beginning of your online marketing strategy, and you'll be ready to begin a productive and effective online marketing campaign.
The way your website is designed and presented influences your opportunities to make money online.
A professionally designed and well presented website will bring you a lot of customers and sales.
So, what common mistakes drive visitors away from a website?
4. Ineffective use of keywords and phrases.
This is essential for your visibility on search engines. Make sure that your website is well optimized.
If you want to succeed online, it is important that you avoid these common website mistakes. A professional and informative website will make your visitors want to come back again, which is good for your business.
What further confuses this is typically a lack of clear insight into your website's performance. For example, how well does your website convert visitors into buyers? What are the key decisions that visitors must make on your website? Do you give them the information and tools necessary to make those decisions?
Measure Progress with Website Analytics
Many companies mistakenly install a standard "website statistics" program and only get a group of standard reports. Typically, these reports do very little to help you judge the true effectiveness of your website. Want to get a jumpstart on creating your own website analytics? Just follow these 3 simple steps:
2. Get in touch with your visitors' behavior on your website
Track how many unique visitors you get, and how long they stay on your site (including how many pages they view). You want all of these numbers to be going up, since that means youíre getting more visitors who are staying on the site longer. You are maximizing the odds that they will do what you want them to.
Here are two examples:
Regardless of what you want to achieve, getting to website usability first starts with solid website analytics. Why? Because website analytics force you to identify those areas that matter most, and identify how well or poorly you are doing in them. Once you know this, you are armed with key data that can help you focus your efforts and determine where things like usability testing can help the most.
Leverage Usability Testing
Usability testing is where you take people who would use your website, and actually watch them using it. Typically, you ask the person to do things on the site, and you watch either over their shoulder, behind a one-way mirror, or via a second computer where you can see what's being recorded on the test computer.
So be careful when hiring a professional that seems to make the testing process complicated or costly. When someone does this, it's usually only for their own financial gain.
To successfully conduct a usability test, just follow these 5 steps:
1. Define your objectives. Begin with the end in mind
What do you want to accomplish with this usability test? Do you have specific areas of your website that you want to improve? If so, this is a great way to get ideas on how to make those areas better. Are you planning on rolling out a new area of your website? A usability test is a great way to do a "trial run" before the big launch.
2. Recruit the participants
This will take the most time, and can be the most frustrating part of the test process. You have to find people to participate (which can be tough, particularly if you need to match specific demographic profiles), and then you need to schedule them. Then, some will cancel, some wonít show, and some will be great test participants. The best way to get a feel for the person is to talk to them directly more than once over the phone. TIP: Be sure to call the person the day of the test to remind them about it.
3. Script the test
Youíll want to have an intro script, the test script, and a post-test survey. The intro script serves as a checklist of things you want to be sure to cover with the person before you start the test. TIP: During the part, try to focus on making the person feel comfortable giving their opinion, and reiterate that any feedback is good feedback. The next part, the test script, is a checklist of the actual things you want the person to do. This is followed by the post-test survey, which allows you to ask the person questions, and later compare those answers to what they said during the test.
5. Report the results
The best way to report the results is two-fold: First, do a quick, one-page or less recap of each session immediately after the test. That way, the information is still fresh in your mind. TIP: Include a picture of the user in your recap, since it will help make that person's feedback "come alive". Next, take the information collected during testing, and create 1 to 4 "personas": user profiles that explain the type of person, what they need from the website, what issues they encounter frequently on the site, and what can be changed to help them. This will help you explain the results to others, and you can reuse these personas later when you are adding or updating areas of your website.
How many people should I test?
For most usability tests, you can learn the maximum amount by only testing ten people. Too many more and youíll start to see too many recurring patterns. If you go less than ten, you might miss things or not see enough of a pattern.
What Personas are:
What Personas are not:
Reporting user tests as personas is a great way to:
Again, exactly how you choose to implement these techniques is obviously up to you. Even small steps can make a big impact. You don't have to have super-sophisticated website analytics, test your website with 100 users, or develop extremely detailed personas. Every step you take in these three areas, no matter how big or how small, will help you get more from your website, and your website marketing strategy.
I was referred to a prospective client recently that had their website redesigned. They paid $60,000 for a site that really does nothing for them. It is a simple brochure site that provides visitors nothing and it certainly does nothing to convert traffic into sales. Since all their budget went to design, they have no money left over to properly market the site. Mistake #1, don't pay $60,000 for a branding exercise.
A corporate website is about supporting the business. The beauty of the Internet is there is no guessing. You can measure pretty much anything. What are you trying to accomplish? Increase traffic? Generate leads? Increase sales? If it is yes to one of these questions, then a $60,000 investment should have measurable targets tied to it. Can a brochure site deliver a 80-95% ROI?
Web design is a commodity today. The cost of the design should represent about 25% of your total spend. Design costs are competitive today, so spending more than you have to should be the last thing you do. There are excellent open source Content Management Systems (CMS) that give you the power to manage your own content. The cost of the software is $0 to you.
The value of web design is working with companies that can understand what you do. To properly market the site, you should be investing up to 10-12x on what you invested in design. If you are a small company that is spending $4,000-$8,000 on a basic website, you should plan over 12 months to invest an additional amount in marketing. The dollars spent on marketing brings traffic to the site. Simple rule: more traffic through the front door means more business.
Unlike other advertising, you can control your spending and measure your ROI pretty quickly. You can turn your marketing dollars on and off depending on the performance, it is all measurable.
One of our clients went through the redesign process. We built a Search Engine Friendly website that allows them to manage content on the site. Prior to working with us, his website was not listed in the top 100 on Google for popular keywords. Since working with us, his visitors and page views have increased. But most importantly, he has doubled his bookings from this time last year. And, he did not spend $60,000 on his web design.
If you need help evaluating a prospective vendor, here are some questions that may help you understand their knowledge:
TPPro Blog brings you the best insights and hacks to build a success story with digital marketing. Boost your business by reading our weekly posts.