A great website is the foundation of any smart marketing strategy. It supports your brand promise and differentiates you from competitors. It delivers high-value information that demonstrates your capabilities and makes people want to do business with you.
So how do you create a great website? It’s all in the planning.
Here’s the planning guide we use when creating new websites for our clients.
- Why is a website important to your business?
- What are your goals for the site and how will you measure its effectiveness?
- What role does your website play in your sales and marketing plan? Brand awareness and positioning? An information resource for clients and prospects? Storefront? Lead generator? Community bulletin board?
- What does your brand stand for? What do people expect from their interaction with your brand and how can you meet those expectations on your website?
- How are you communicating your brand in other marketing channels? What types of images and messages should be integrated into your site for branding consistency?
- Who are the most important targets of your website? Why do these people come to your site? What are they looking for?
- Are they typically first-time or repeat visitors? Do they already know you or do business with you or are they trying to learn about you?
- Where do people go on your current site? Which pages get the most hits and most engagement?
Your marketing strategy
- What is your overall marketing strategy? What channels and tactics are you using to promote your company and products?
- How can your website integrate with and support your other marketing initiatives? For example, can your site be a response channel for direct mail and email marketing campaigns? Serve as the repository for content you share via social media? Promote events? Highlight special offers?
- What content belongs on your site to convey your capabilities and the value you provide to clients?
- What’s the best way to deliver that content on the site? Explanatory text? Case studies? Testimonials? How-to information? Product demos? Newsletters? Videos? Photos? Charts? Diagrams? Presentations? Podcasts? A blog?
- Which keywords will you use to drive search engine rankings and content creation?
- Are there specific products, services or geographic regions that should be the focus of text?
- How will you add content in the future to continue your SEO initiatives?
Offers and engagement
- What can you offer website visitors to generate a response and get their permission for future communications?
- How can you spur visitor engagement? Think of actions you can measure, such as requesting information, sharing your site with others, posting a comment, following you on social media, subscribing to your blog or signing up for your RSS feed.
Functionality and navigation
- What actions will visitors want to take on your site? Order products? Chat with a representative? Get more information? Find a dealer or retail location? Log on to their account? Which of these actions should be prominently featured on your home page?
- Do you need to provide password-protected access for customers?
- What inbound and outbound links belong on the site?
- How will your site look and function on a mobile device?
Sources of site traffic
- How do you plan to drive traffic to your website? Social media? Pay per click? Promotion in other media? Organic search?
- How will you use marketing to bring people to your site?
- What can you do to encourage return traffic?
- Which of your competitors is doing web marketing well? What aspects of their sites do you like?
- Which competitors should you track for comparative search engine rankings?
Take a moment to evaluate your website. Perhaps a few tweaks are all that is required to turn your good website into a great one.
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Jean M. Gianfagna is a marketing strategy expert and the founder and president of Gianfagna Strategic Marketing which provides marketing strategy and creative services to leading business-to-business and consumer marketers. Read her blog for more marketing tips at http://www.gianfagnamarketing.com/blog.