Originally, when I sat down to write this blog post, I planned to write about why your business needs a website. But then it occurred to me: unless you’re a brand new solopreneur still seeking your first few clients or an established offline business that sees the bulk of sales in a brick and mortar store, every business knows they need a website…right?
Having a website really is table stakes today. But when it comes to what your website can DO for your business, there’s a world of difference between adding a basic overview of your business and a phone number to reach and having a website that actually produces meaningful results.
So this article is not about why you need a website…it’s about how to design a website strategy that works for your business. And it’s about creating a website for your business that actually converts for you…in whatever way you need it to. Your website is its own sales funnel that ushers your prospective customers through the customer journey. Here’s how to create a digital strategy that compliments your sales goals and brings you meaningful results.
Before you can design your strategy, you need to know where you’re headed. A website can serve any number of purposes and it’s important to frame yours in the context of your particular business and industry.
First, consider where you want your website to be one year from now.
Then pull some baseline metrics that support your goals and (if you haven’t already) connect your site to key analytics tools to track your progress. You don’t need to wring your hands here. Analytics can feel overly complex and confusing–especially when you’re just starting out–but these three tools are free to use and will cover everything you need to start measuring your goals and KPIs:
Your website is a standalone sales funnel, with entry points from across your marketing channels, and one primary ‘exit’ or sales point that marks a conversion. Whatever the important events are for your business within that funnel, it’s important to remember that there’s a clear beginning, middle, and end to your funnel, and your potential buyer needs you to define those points for them.
Entry points: At the top of the funnel, make it clear what you do and who you do it for. Use similar brand language to orient your reader from wherever they’re coming from. Match your tone and brand voice from other channels—whether it’s social media, radio ads, or paid search—so that your reader feels like they’re in the right place.
Middle of the funnel: Encourage readers to take their coats off and stay for a while. Surprise and delight them with informative, free content. Build an email list by offering u valuable content in exchange for an email address. Look for other easy commitments your readers can take to learn more about your products and services that feel manageable, like a free consult, a demo, a free trial, or informative video content.
Choose just 1-3 of these options and very clearly lead your readers to them from your primary pages, like the Homepage, Services page, and About page.
Bottom of the funnel: What does a conversion look like for your business? Is it a sale, a sign up, or a sales call? Clearly define that (for your team and for your site visitors), and ‘optimize it’ by presenting your offer clearly and transparently. Stack incentives around your offer so it’s as attractive as possible. Reduce friction and churn in the check out process by reducing the number of pages and steps involved to complete the transaction.
While on the surface, your website is a reflection of your business and your online presense, it’s also important to consider your target audience and position your messaging to their benefit. The more your target audience relates to your messaging and sees themselves in the problems and solutions you present to them, the more likely they’ll be to test out your product or service.
But how exactly are you supposed to know what’s going on in the heads of your potential buyers?
I’m so glad you asked. The best way is to ask them at every opportunity! Ask your site users what brought them to your site. Ask your customers about their experiences working with you. Ask the people who cancel their service why they needed a new solution. Establish processes on your site for collecting this feedback (and use a great free marketing tool like Hotjar to set it up):
Survey, interview, and collect feedback often and use that to inform what is (and isn’t) working on your website.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard the SEO or search engine optimization is a great way to expand your reach online by attracting new leads and prospects to your website. Much MUCH has been written on the topic, and frankly, a complete SEO strategy may feel like biting off more than you can chew for most business owners.
But even if you don’t feel like jumping down the SEO rabbit hole, there are some easy steps to take to make sure your site is optimized so it can be more easily found by search engines…and humans.
Use a website platform with a proven SEO track record: Gone are the days where you need a custom-coded website. Website builders are a safer and more modern way to get a website up and running, but not all platforms are created equal for SEO. Consider what your website needs to do (Do you need e-commerce integration? Multi-language capabilities?) and then choose a website builder that supports that AND your organic growth. Ask questions about SEO capabilities before you commit.
Keep your site fast and mobile friendly: Cross your technical ‘t’s and dot your device-friendly ‘i’s. This not only improves user experience (read more on that below) but also improves your chances of being deemed a high-authority and trustworthy site by search engines.
Commit to on-page SEO best practices: At a minimum, commit to basic on-page SEO techniques for each page of your website. These simple practices will allow you to start ranking…even if you don’t totally understand what keywords you’re trying to rank for yet. This includes:
It’s easy to over complicate website navigation. After all, we have a lot of information to share and pages have a tendency to spring up when something more needs to be said. But wherever possible, group your site into logical sections and apply that logic to your URL structure and navigation menu. Use breadcrumbs to help your user navigate through content. And always read your site on different browsers and devices to make sure it’s legible, accessible and mobile-friendly! This improves your site metrics but it also builds trust and demonstrates your willingness to provide an optimal experience for your customers.
It sounds fancy, but omni-channel marketing at its essence is about consistency. It’s providing the same brand language, messages, and tone throughout all of your online marketing channels: social media, LinkedIn, retailers, email, and of course, your website. By creating a cohesive brand experience across all your customer touch points, you provide a more seamless customer experience wherever they interact with your brand.
On your website in particular, be mindful of integrating all the customer experiences you’ve created to accommodate visitors wherever they come from and wherever they’re at in their customer journey. Match your messaging as much as possible on landing pages to reinforce and build on ad messaging, social posts, or product descriptions the user may have just been exposed to.
You’ve done the hard work of setting up your site and optimizing it for your users. Stay on top of your goals by creating a simple method for tracking your top KPIs and audit your website regularly to make sure it’s still running at its best.
Along the way, look for holes, gaps, and opportunities to tighten your messaging, improve the user experience, and increase conversions.
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