I had been referred to a consulting company by a mutual print representative who said they wanted some help with their online presence. I reviewed their website, social media accounts and any relevant posts and pages that came up in Google searches. When I met with the President of the firm I explained where I felt their deficiencies were, and what I recommended as a solution; which included a revamp of their current website.
While she concurred with most of what I had to say, she replied that their website did not need to be replaced. However, she went on to say “but, it isn’t really working for us. What can be done to improve our website, short of an actual overhaul or revamp?”
Her response is both understandable and fairly common, which made me think about it further. If you had a website that was developed only two or three years ago, you may feel reticent to invest in a new one. But like this client (yes, she’s a client now), you may not be satisfied with your website’s performance.
If you are happy with the website design and branding, if it is an easy, intuitive site to navigate, if it is responsive (automatically conforms and optimizes for different sized screens) and if it is accessible (people with disabilities can navigate your website) — then you may not need a new website. But, if it isn’t actively promoting your organization or contributing to the sales process then you’re letting it off easy.
In our digital age, a website should do more than say who you are and what you do. It is an opportunity to engage with your audience and impress upon them your ability to satisfy their needs.
Here are four things you can do to help turn your current website from an online brochure, to an online marketing machine.
1. Content Audit
Do you know what content you have and how it fits into your overall marketing and sales goals? Don’t worry, most companies don’t. (This blog will help you get started: Own Your Content) We recently completed a comprehensive content audit ourselves and were surprised to see how many holes we had in our own content and strategy! (A reminder that it needs to be looked at regularly to properly guide your content strategy.)
Having content is good, but in order for it to be strategic it needs to fit into a plan. The plan determines what you need, the audit reveals what you have, you determine how it fits into the overall strategy and what other pieces you need to fill the holes. To make this manageable, we use a spreadsheet with columns for:
- Source (web page, blog, whitepaper, infographic, etc.)
- Funnel (does it fit top, middle or low in the info/sales cycle)
- Workflow (what workflow or campaign is it part of)
- Usability (our own scale on how useful/effective it is for our audience)
- CTA (is there a relevant/custom call-to-action/ad in the content)
2. Improving SEO
The times of keyword stuffing are long gone, but the importance of keywords is still prevalent. Google’s keen sense of good online content can sniff out the junk to determine what is truly a good resource with many layers and forms of relevant content. And you know what? Your audience is pretty good at it too, so try not to fool either. Provide substantial content that is of interest to your readers, and in different formats, such as video, images, infographics, as well as text.
Meta data is still important as it is used in your search displays, so word your page titles and descriptions carefully, to engage potential readers as they search the web. Check out our 5-Minute SEO Check You Can Do Yourself.
3. Leveraging Social Media
Your website may not offer much engagement or opportunity for dialogue, but your social media accounts do. If social media accounts are relevant to your business, look for ways to integrate them beyond a linked icon on your home page.
Streaming social content on your website is easy and can spur involvement. Inviting dialogue or feedback on topical issues within your industry, requesting and displaying testimonials can be effective, and adding polls or contests can be fun and engaging. Be sure that whatever you do fits with your brand, audience, and is part of an overall engagement strategy. Simply getting clicks, likes, retweets, etc. really doesn’t matter if it isn’t moving your audience along an information or sales cycle.
4. Marketing Automation
Often referred to as Inbound Marketing, automated marketing enables a series of tasks to be automatically completed when triggered. For example, a client clicks on an e-newsletter link to your “Our Widgits” web page, and visits a specific new widget page three more times in a week. That shows some obvious interest, so your website may automatically send an email to the client with more information on that specific widgit, additional shipping information and a link to your delivery schedule. If your client clicks on the delivery link, another more informative email could be sent, and the appropriate sales rep sent a prompt to call said client immediately. II the client doesn’t click on the delivery link, then a different email with other information and an incentive might be appropriate, or links to relevant blog articles, or references from other clients who have ordered that widgit…
Point being, strategic tasks can be set up to happen automatically, accommodating for the receiver’s actions and sending the right information at the right time. It allows you to look after prospects’ and clients’ needs efficiently and effectively. (Read more in Get Personal With Dynamic Emails.)
These four items — a content audit, improving SEO, leveraging social media and marketing automation — can each contribute to making your website far more effective and engaging to your audience. Used in combination, your website will become a veritable marketing machine.
Photo credt: GettyImages