When we ask, “Is your website part of your marketing plan?”, most organizations affirm that, indeed, their website is an important part of their overall marketing. But often, they’re wrong.
Many websites are simply an online brochure with little more than some background and a listing of services/products offered. Oh, and a Contact Us page with a form inviting people to “Contact us!” That isn’t marketing, it is informing. Information isn’t a bad thing, but on its own it’s rather passive and unproductive.
The goal of marketing is to effectively communicate with a target market to align perceptions and reinforce or change behavior. Essentially, if you say the right thing in the right way to the right people at the right time — you should see some positive result. What results are you getting from your website?
With the great functionality available online, websites are an opportunity to do so much more than simply inform. By presenting information in engaging ways and using marketing automation tactics to build relationships, your website can complement and contribute to your marketing plan. To help make your website an active part of your marketing initiatives, consider the following suggestions.
Provide Content with Context
Go beyond simply presenting facts. Certainly, you should be factual and include details, but also provide context to make it relevant to your main audience. Why should they care, what’s in it for them? Marketers learn that Features explain what something does, while Benefits describe why it matters to the user. Then they can internalize and personalize material, making them more likely to act on your information.
Regardless of what your organization does, you’re selling something: products, services, memberships, ideas, etc. — there is a persuasive purpose for your website. Making your content meaningful to the user and helping them visualize how it makes their life better or easier, will have greater impact. Take advantage of your website to effectively position your organization and its message with persuasive and contextualized content. [Read more: 5 Reasons to Use Content Marketing]
Try to Interest and Engage
As you add relevant (and contextual) information, consider how to present it in an interesting manner. Infographics, animations, video, etc. make information more fun and often more memorable. People learn differently, so providing more than one way to interact with your information can improve the strength of your message.
Providing different formats also makes your information more shareable. Encouraging sharing and integrating your social media accounts with your content is a powerful conduit to reaching a larger audience and creating more meaningful ties.
Explore non-frivolous ways for the user to interact with your website. Polls, forms and other interactive online tools are important to gain information about your users and even start a dialogue. This can guide more effective communication, perhaps with dynamic content, and even lead to sales conversions. Use different and dynamic formats on your website to engage your audience. [Read more: Improve Conversions with Dynamic Landing Pages]
Create a Continuous Plan
Kaizen is the Japanese philosophy of ongoing improvement that North American businesses embraced in the 1980s. Some are still working at it (which is, after all, the point). It is a smart strategy to consider for your website, since your site is never “done.”
Most organizations realize the importance of keeping their website up-to-date and adding new content (including different media formats). Some companies go further and integrate promotions with emails and create new landing pages for each campaign, others track behaviour on their websites and make subtle changes to improve the user-experience or take advantage of high traffic pages.
Your website is a never-ending story, an evolving presentation that welcomes old and new visitors to drop in at any time. A plan that involves routine updating and analyzing, integrates communications and promotions, and facilitates the sales process, will maintain your website as an effective marketing tool.
It’s easy to treat your website as a constant, but that shouldn’t make it static. Ideally, it is constantly evolving and growing to better communicate with your target audiences and continue to provide the information and experience they are looking for. Consider and practice these three points; this process can reward you with business growth and loyalty. [Read more: Using Growth Driven Design to Make Existing Websites Perform]