There’s a saying that goes something like this: “If you’re not doing business online, you’re not doing business.”
These days, every company needs to be doing business online and I’m not talking about just “having” a website. I’ve encountered businesses who believe that “if I build it, they will come” – if they just construct a website, customers will be beating a path to their door. Nothing could be further from reality.
In my article last month, I talked about “Must-Do Tactics” – certain marketing activities that are a must for every company, and the “bare minimum” if you are pressed for time and resources. Having a website was at the top of the list, but what’s important is not only having this online presence, but using it to full advantage. That means having a website that’s dynamic and optimized for online search, plus includes a blog you post to regularly. Your online activity should also extend to company pages on the relevant social media sites, which should also be alive with posting activity. My article, “Developing a Social Strategy,” provides guidelines and best practices for making the best use of social media.
In this article, I am going to focus on your website and how you can make sure it goes beyond just having an address and attracts and engages your target audience.
Keeping up appearances
It goes without saying that you should start by ensuring your website is well-designed, responsive and easy to navigate. This helps with projecting the right image and making it easy for your site’s visitors to explore and find what they are looking for. What they are looking for – the content – is the other critical component. Your prospective customers are the focus or target audience for your site, therefore the content on it should be what will meet their needs and the purpose of their visit. What information will they be hoping to find and will help them in making a purchasing decision?
Your website content should do more than state what you do and what you sell, however. You want to make sure it contains those carefully crafted messages that convey your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and Unique Value Proposition (UVP). As discussed in my article, “Figuring Out What’s In It For the Customer,” you should conduct message development to identify what makes you unique and what distinguishes you from the competition and to pinpoint your core values and which of those values resonate with your target customers. From there, you can create clear statements of value for your website that pertain to your uniqueness and what you bring to the table.
To truly maximize your website, you should engage in SEO (search engine optimization) tactics that will ensure people find your site when doing searches on the internet. Many things help with SEO, such as keeping your website content dynamic (more about this below), having inbound and outbound links to content, and incorporating the keywords pertaining to your product or service offerings (the words or phrases people would type into a search engine that would lead them to you). You also want to address SEO “behind the scenes” of your website. You website developer can help you with that – installing the SEO Plug-in in the Word Press dashboard, for example, or setting up meta descriptions in the code or whatever your website content management system might be.
Keeping your website content dynamic means regularly posting new and updated product and services information, news, events, media coverage received and marketing materials (including reports or “lead magnets” that provide highly relevant and educational/helpful content). This not only helps with SEO but will attract and drive traffic in your direction (especially from social media where you also post this new content).
Should you be blogging?
I highly advise you to have a blog on your website, but don’t set one up unless you can post to it regularly (at least once per month) and have the time to maintain it properly. Regular posting to a blog further helps not only with SEO and driving traffic to your website (especially if you add links and keywords), it achieves a number of other marketing goals. A blog is the perfect forum for conveying your knowledge and expertise and establishing yourself and your company as a leader in your field. By promoting your blog’s posts on your social media pages and through email campaigns, you can create a following for it (that includes other blogs as well as customers). With a following, it’s easier to build relationships and trust, and ultimately create loyal customers.
Most businesses understand they need a website, but it’s something that can be “out of sight, out of mind.” There’s also misconceptions about what you should do with one and a lack of knowledge about how to best leverage your website for growing your business. Before launching a new website or blog, you may want to engage a marketing expert with experience in digital or inbound marketing.