Building a website is more than just a way to get a business online – it’s merely the first step towards maximizing online exposure, generating traffic and converting online visitors into customers. Either way, the goal here is to use your website to move your business forward.
That’s why at 417 Marketing, we like to say your website should be more than an online brochure. It should be a marketing tool.
So how can you build a website that is more marketing tool than online brochure?
It starts with clean, modern design. Have you recently visited a website that looks like it was built 10-15 years ago? What impression did that leave you with? If your website looks like it hasn’t been updated in 10 years, what does that say about how the business is being managed? Less is more. If you need evidence of this, take a look at the #1 website in the world (by traffic) – www.google.com.
Focus on maximizing online exposure. It’s not enough to just build a great-looking website. Exposure is essential. Take the time to optimize your new site to meet Google’s webmaster quality guidelines. Build pages that are easy to crawl, quick to load and coded with useful Meta data that helps search engines understand what they are crawling. Create a properly-formatted XML sitemap and upload it to the “Big 3? search engines – Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Setup Google Webmaster Tools and monitor their feedback as they initially crawl and digest your new website. As they give us helpful tips, be sure to take action. Did they give you a warning about a missing page? No problem. Discover the new location of the URL in question, write the 301 redirect into the .htaccess file and check back later to make sure Google’s web-bot is no longer confused.
Work to maximize conversion. Exposure and traffic to your site are great – but if traffic does not lead to conversion you are missing the boat. Focus on building easy-to-use, responsive conversion forms. Then, work with Google Analytics to setup conversion goal tracking. Create a goal and notify which URL they should use to track conversions. This will give you data on what percentage of visitors to your website are meeting your conversion goal. Good marketing is measurable marketing. Given that your website is a marketing tool, there must be measurable data to draw conclusions from. Following this step will allow you to address potential short-comings with a different approach – whether that be new text, a new conversion form, customized landing pages, A/B split testing and/or heat mapping (the process of measuring visitor mouse activity on the screen). If you are in the non-profit industry, your conversion form will typically be a donate form. If that is the case, be sure to purchase an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate from your hosting provider. This will provide additional security to the form and is a requirement when processing online payments using Authorize.net, a common payment gateway.
Seek support you after the launch. After launching your new website, seek the support solution that is right for you. Prefer to do it yourself? Make sure the company you work with offers an easy-to-use Content Management System (CMS). At 417 Marketing, we work with the #1 Content Management System (CMS) in the world – WordPress – for most projects. WordPress is simple and easy to update if you have advanced computer skills. Prefer to have someone update your site for you? Make sure they offer comprehensive and affordable website admin services – including hosting, discounted labor, monthly backups, web analytics and monthly reporting.
Once these steps have been taken, you and your business are left with an online marketing tool that looks great, increases your brands’ exposure online, turns website visitors into customers and is easy to update. Sounds great, doesn’t it?