Having a website and engaging in online marketing to generate leads and sales is a must for businesses that want to compete, survive and thrive in the modern economy.
Whether a small local businesses or a large multinational, not having a website today is akin to not having a phone number in the pre-www age. It is vital to the success of business, yet very few people understand how to create an effective and profitable online strategy.
Having worked with hundreds of businesses over almost a decade, there are some principles that remain constant, and if followed, almost guarantee a flood of leads and sales from a well thought out and executed digital marketing plan.
This document sets out the blueprint we follow when creating an online digital marketing strategy for the businesses we work with.
There are 7 distinct stages that are all important and each section that follows is dedicated to each one. Missing one of these stages is like driving a car on 3 wheels. It will work but the ride is bumpy, slow and fraught with danger and not sustainable for the long term.
But attending to all the stages makes the whole online experience enjoyable and profitable.
- What Is The Job Of The Website?
- What do you want the website to do for your business?
- Be a Brochure?
- Get the phone to ring?
- Generate Leads?
- Make Sales?
- Position Your Business As The Leader / Authority In The Industry?
- Showcase Your Products And Services?
- Generate Publicity?
- Provide Information?
For most businesses, the primary purpose of the website is to generate leads and make sales, unless you are a not for profit or government organisation.
The website may have secondary purposes like customer support and information, but it is important to focus on the primary purpose first and build the website around these, then add in the secondary aspects around the main purpose.
Top 3 Sources Of Revenue
The best starting point is to determine the top three or four revenue generating products or services in the business, and ask how a website can help get more leads and sales for these. This becomes the central focus of the website.
The content, images, videos, enquiry forms, information are developed to direct visitors towards taking action on these products and services. Ultimately, to get the phone ringing and flood your email with enquiries.
Each product or service should have its own dedicated landing page and be linked from the home page and other strategic pages through out the website.
- What Process Do Customers Go Through To Buy?
- Write down or map out a flow chart of the process customers go through to eventually buying your products and services.
- Then consider the benefits they receive when using these:
- What problem does it solve?
- What do they gain from using them?
- What would they miss out of without it?
- What would be the cost of not buying?
- What will they save (time and/or money)?
These questions are important because this becomes the starting point for writing the text and images on the website, in addition to …
What Questions Do People Ask Before Buying?
People generally ask the same questions when going through the sales process. You may even have stock answers that you use and train your staff with. Sometimes, these are called objections. But many of these can be answered with your website, ensuring you have a better quality of enquiry, often pre-qualified and pre-disposed to buy.
Rather than being in a position of cold calling and chasing business, you instead have a steady stream of people asking you to contact them and provide them with your solution.
You can even have people start the sales process on the website so that the enquires you receive are:
- ready to buy
- can afford it
- will buy today
- have chosen you over competitors
- need what you provide, and;
- trust your business as the best place to purchase from
Imagine, no more tyre kickers, no more weeding out the people who are the wrong fit and being able to focus more of your time, money and resources on your ideal clients.
Miss This Step And Your Website (Possibly Your Business) Is Doomed To Fail
Most people skip to schmick looking website designs, and fail to DEFINE the purpose and primary job of the website. Do this first and the rest logically falls into place, guaranteeing you success.
The good news is most of your competitors don’t ensuring you can easily get ahead of them in the Search Engines, grab a greater share of leads, sales and profit freeing you up to spend more with family and things you love, all while making more money.
On the flip side, if you don’t invest in a well structured website, your competitors will leaving you potentially working harder with diminishing market share, harder to compete, less leads and sales, and maybe a struggling business.
Getting your website right results in a better business, improved lifestyle, more revenue at a lesser cost which means more money in your pocket at the end of the day.
It is worth getting a good web designer involved to create what your website will look like. I’m you have seen many poor websites that look unprofessional, do-it-yourself, thrown together pages, and free website templates that just don’t communicate the business well or portray the right message to visitors.
On the other hand, you have probably also seen some fantastic looking websites, that have the ‘wow’ factor with fancy sliders, large impressive images, cool roll over effects, objects that fly in, and easy to fall in love with … BUT … don’t communicate what the business in, no phone number, hard to find what you are looking for, and end up being a frustrating experience.
A well designed website looks great, is easy to navigate, communicates to the visitor clearly and engages them to take action.
That is why the first stage, “Define” is so important. Once you have nailed that process, the web designer can mock up a visual look with all the element in the right place.
A sketch of where various parts of the website is called a wireframe. This is often a hand drawn representation of the elements on the website, where they should be positioned, how a visitor engages and moves from one part of the site to the next.
This is not a ‘pretty’ picture. It is a guide to give the webs designer to work with to create the visual look of the site.
It is helpful to give a guide to what your (and your customers’) preferences are in terms of style, feel, look, graphics, and overall feel you want for the website.
Logo And Colours
If you have a logo, the style and colours are a good starting point to work from. If you have a design guide and colour palate for your logo, provide this to the web designer. Whoever designed your logo should have a copy of this if you request it.
If you don’t have a logo, it is not necessarily required as many great websites have a text area for the business name and description.
If you require a logo to be designed, this will often be an additional extra that the web designer may be happy to do, or you may want a specialist logo and branding designer to create.
Don’t get hung up on the logo. It is a very small part of the website. The visitors are more interested in the content and their experience while navigating, not that you have a particularly appealing website that speaks of your values, business personality, blah, blah, blah…
Remember, they are generally on your website to solve a problem, looking for solutions, or seeking answers, … and ultimately to take a course of action.
- Who Is Your Target Audience?
- Who are your customers?
- What do they Like?
- What do they dislike?
- How would they describe themselves?
- Young, Old, Middle Aged?
- Are they Single, Married, Divorced?
- Do they have kids?
- Are the Professionals, Tradies, Employed, Self-Employed, Corporate, Small Business?
- Do they own their own home, or do they rent?
It is a helpful exercise, to create an ‘Avatar’ of your ideal customer. Think about your best customer and describe them in detail. There are more people like them out there, and if you communicate to attract more of them, you will have an enjoyable and profitable business of people you really like working with.
All of these questions help shape the style, look and feel of the website so your ideal visitors feel at home their and feel like your business serves people like them. It is a disconnect having a casual, down to earth trade looking website if your target customer are corporate professionals…and vice versa.
What Website Do You Like (and Hate)?
Have a look around the web at a variety of websites and list out what you like, what you love, what you particularly dislike and what you hate.
Check out your competitors and see what works and doesn’t work for them. Also, have a look at websites that are not in your industry. Often you can find some good ideas that are not being used by others in your industry.
Let your web designer know your preferences to help guide the design process. But, also check in with the process you went through in the ‘DEFINE’ stage to check that the design focuses on the important lead or revenue generating elements.
Visitors won’t necessarily land on this page first, but if they do, the home page should communicate in 7 seconds of less that they have come to the right place and should spend more time to look around.
The messages should be framed as benefits to the problem they are seeking answers for. They should see that they can drill deeper to get more information, preferably by leaving their email in exchange.
It should encourage them to click through to other pages on the website.
For those that want to contact immediately, there should be a phone number and/or contact form immediately visible in the top part of the website.
This page is often your first chance to make the best impression, and engineer the visitors curiosity and trust.
Each product and service page is a mini-home page. People will often reach these pages before getting to a home page, particularly if they have found you through the search engines.
The difference is this page will be specific the the product or service rather than the home page which may be more generic.
However, some of the same elements will be visible. For example: phone number, enquiry form, further information boxes, links to other parts of the website that are relevant, clear navigation.
Call To Actions
On of the biggest failings or many websites are the lack of clear calls to action.
If you want people to contact you, ask them to.
If you are selling products, have buttons to buy now. If people should call you, have a clearly displayed phone number that visitors can click to call.
If the first part of your lead process is to send out more information, create an eBook (like this one) that they can download instantly in exchange for their email (and possibly some additional details).
Make it easy for people to begin working with you, even after business hours and have a way of knowing people have been there so you can follow them up (often automatically and seamlessly without your intervention).
The hardest part of any website is creating the content, and content that is engaging, relevant and piques the visitors’ curiosity to ask for more. It can take hours and hours to write the content, but it very helpful to have this prior to the web designer getting involved.
If you have the content written, with the relevant images the web designer can use these in the mock ups of how the website will look.
There are some quick hacks to creating good content.
Search on the terms your customers will type in to the search engines. Open your competitors sites that appear in the search results, and the paid ads. Grab and rewrite some of their content using the keywords you used in your search. Your competitors gained first page with their content so if yours is similar (but not the same) you may be able to do the same (it may take more refining and a bit of time, but it is worth it).
Use Google’s Ad Preview And Diagnosis Tool for top results of the same search terms in other countries. Copy some of their text and localise for your website. Again, don’t copy word for word, but use as a starting point to rewrite for your business.
Visit forums, blogs, Facebook groups, LinkedIn Articles, Twitter feeds to see what people are asking and discussing. These are great starting points to providing the information people are seeking answers to.
But best of all, ask your customers and your staff. What questions do they ask? What problems do they have? How have your products and services helped them? What more do they want?
Record a few sales to see what people ask and how you respond. You probably say the same things over and over again with your customers. If it works when you sell then it will likely work on your website copy.
Once you have approved and signed off on the web design, this is handed to the developer to ‘code’ the website. The developer slices up the design create the website and adds the various elements and features that translate the static design to a functional process for visitors to engage with.
Ideally, your website should be developed on an Open Source (rather than Proprietary) CMS (Content Management System).
This ensures you ‘own’ your website and are not locked into any one website development company. If you fall out of love with your developer, and Open Source System allows you to fire them and find another.
This is important, as sometimes your needs when you start your website and your requirement as you develop can outgrow your initial web developer.
Technology changes and moves on. Having an Open Source website allows you to take advantage of new plugins and functions written by other developers and add these to your website.
Content And Code Should Be Separate
The code of the website should facilitate the display of content and the functions performed. Generally the content should not be mixed int with the code.
The content should be changeable and editable by you or one of your staff without requiring a developer’s intervention (or hourly rates).
A content management system (like WordPress.org) allow you to add pages, images, videos and other content without necessarily knowing how to code in HTML and CSS. It is similar to working with text documents on a computer.
A good developer will have clean code that allows the finished product load quickly, which is good for both your visitors and the search engines. It will be developed to optimise the visitors’ experience so that it is simple and intuitive to use.
Your website should not show off how good the developer is (although you should engage a good developer), but should encourage the visitor to stay longer and ultimately engage with your business to become a paying customer.4. Deploy
Time To Release Your Website To The wild!
It is important to test that everything works as expected prior to launch. There will inevitably be bugs but these should be eliminates as much as possible before making the website live and have visitors discover these.
Some of the common areas to check are:
- Broken Links
- Phone Numbers are clickable on mobile devices
- Form Submissions redirect tho the correct pages and fire off a thank you email, and begin a series of autoresponders
- Downloadable information are linked correctly
- Logins and permissions are set for staff and agencies with specific responsibilities for website management
- Test content is removed
- Email addresses are set up (this is particularly important if you are moving your domain to a different server or host)
It is a good idea to check these things just in case the developer misses anything.
Also, have some staff members, or friends check through the website. They will act more like a real live visitor and will probably spot other things you miss. It is not the end of the world if you find bugs after launch but it is better that you identify and fix these prior rather than visitors letting you know.
5. Drive Traffic
Search Engine Optimisation
This is a whole area in itself that is separate from the design and development process. Think of the search engines being like a library. There are millions upon millions of websites on display. To help visitors searching to narrow down the results to a relevant manageable selection of pages to view, your website needs to be categorised and indexed. In fact, every page needs to be optimised, not just the home page.
Unlike the yellow pages which provides people with a business name, address, phone number, email, website and sometimes business description to guide people to the location of the business, the search engines allow people to enter your business not just through the home page front door, but right to the individual product or service the may be interested in.
So it it vital that every page on the website is optimised and provides the correct relevant information the potential customer is seeking. Instead of having one listing (like in the Yellow Pages) your business may have hundreds or even thousands of listings (pages), and the great news is these listing are free. The trick is you have to create categories, descriptions, addresses for every single page on your website.
It may sound daunting but it is not as overwhelming as it may seem as it is a process that you can work through over time and as you add new content.
Start with the main pages on the website; the home page, about, primary product and services landing pages. Then set aside a couple of hours a week to work on each of the other pages until they are all completed.
Every page should have:
- A keyword phrase to focus on
- Page Title (meta title)
- Page Description (meta description)
- Images with “Name”, “Alt” text, “Title”, “Description”, “Link”
- Internal Links to pages within the site that support the topic
- External links to references and supporting information on other websites (preferably not competitors websites, but industry information, government, wiki or information websites, video likes, article repositories, etc)
- Check the ease of readability. Short sentences and paragraphs free of jargon.
The key phrase and synonyms used throughout the content as evidence that the page is relevant to the visitor’s search query.
This is a good start and you will want to monitor and track the effectiveness of the page and the position in the search results regularly.
You won’t get to page one instantly. It will take time to move up the page ranking but if you continually work to improve the content and add additional content you should see your web pages gain more traffic from search.
Some of you competitors may be paying an SEO company to aggressively keep them above your pages in the search results, but many won’t; they won’t be doing anything active with their websites and you will climb above them quickly and easily in many cases.
Don’t worry if a competitor is always ahead of you for some phrases. Focus on optimising for other keywords and phrases. They can’t cover them all so just focus on ones that are easy to begin with, then as your site attracts more traffic and visitors you can move to harder search phrases to work on.
Set up social media accounts, profiles and pages in places your potential customers hang out.
FaceBook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter are good places to start. If you have time or resources to have someone manage the accounts by commenting, posting, sharing that helps drive additional visitors to your website.
The important thing is ensuring your profile is 100% complete with business name, description, web address, phone number, etc ensuring people on those networks can navigate easily to you.
If you are blogging, adding news articles and additional content to your website (which you should as this is an indicator to Google that your site is has new and relevant content), link to the social media accounts so that overtime you publish, it is pushed out automatically to your followers. This will create links back to the article on the website for people who are interested to read more.
Set up as many Google properties as possible. Being active in Google enhances and improves ways of directing visitors. You may often find that a YouTube video or location can appear in the search results when your pages do not.
Important Accounts to set up and complete are:
- Google+ Profile for yourself and key staff.
- Google Page for the business. Link to your website and publish automatically to this business page.
- Google My Business to get your business on Google Maps. This will give a your business special listing with additional information in search results. And on mobile devices, helps prioritise results for people searching in the same location as your business. People now search directly in Google Maps rather than in browser search.
- YouTube for uploading videos. You will often see videos appear in page one of search results. Optimise the videos to direct people who watch to your website.
- Picasa for uploading images
- Gmail and of Google Apps for email. Add business contacts and email addresses to your address book. Google uses your address book as a way of prioritising your webpages in search results when people in your contacts are searching.
Many business do not bother with these Google properties, so by spending a few hours getting these establishes gets your business a few more rungs up the online ladder ahead of competitors.
All The Others
Google is only one source of traffic. There are thousands of other tools and vehicles, too many to use them all, but worth exploring a few other relevant methods.
- Upload Presentations and Slideshows (eg slideshare.com)
- White Paper and PDF repositories (eg scribd.com)
- eBook sites (eg amazon.com, kobo.com)
- Podcasts (eg iTunes.com, podio.com, audible.com)
- Video (eg vimeo.com)
- …and thousands more if you search
6. Direct Traffic
A quick and effective way to get immediate traffic and visitors, particularly when launching a new website, is to pay for it. This is commonly known as PPC (pay-per-click) and PPV (pay-per-view or pay-per-impression).
There are many places to pay for traffic and some of the more well know ones are as follows:
These are ads displayed on the right hand side, at the top and sometimes at the bottom of google search results. It is easy to spend a lot of money for very little result which can be a trap for people unfamiliar with the ad platform. But, equally it is great to get well qualified, targeted visitors to your website very inexpensively.
You bid on the keywords and phrases you want to target when people are searching. Every time a person click on your ad to go to your website, you pay Google.
It is important the page they land on is very relevant to the ad and the visitors search phrase. It should direct them to take action like telephone, fill in an enquiry form, download a give away, view a video, purchase a product or service, complete a survey of poll, …
The important thing is having the visitor convert into a lead, prospect or sale. Once you acquire the lead, you can continue to market to the for free because you should now have their contact details (at the very least their email address).
The cost of your ads is determined by a number of factors such as:
- quality of your website
- quality of the key word
- competition for the key phrase
- negative keywords (eliminating poor quality or irrelevant words in the search phrase)
- and many other factors
Getting this right is vital to the success of an Adwords campaign.
FaceBook provides another alternative paid ad platform. It works in a similar way to Google Ads but has some other unique features to narrow down where your ads are served.
You can define the demographic of the audience who will see your ads. For example you can target people by profession, age group, marital status, number of children, income bracket, interests, where they live, etc…
And there are a number of ads types such as in the right hand side, in the Facebook wall, boosting posts.
FaceBook is more ‘social’ and ‘sharing’ rather than a ‘sales’ environment, although some do run their stores successfully on the platform.
So, the focus should be on sharing and posting interesting and relevant content that people want to like, comment and share … and click to visit your website where they can take action.
Other PPC Methods
There are many other places for paid advertising including:
- Banners on other websites
- Guest posting
- LinkedIn Ads
- Ad Networks
Be careful what service you advertise with to ensure they are legitimate and not considered spammy. The latter will affect your search rankings and credibility and can damage all the hard work you have put into your website.7. Determine Effectiveness
Your website is live and this is where many owners set and forget. But this is really just the start of your online marketing. Just as you wouldn’t set a new staff member loose with out keeping an eye on them, checking their performance, training and retraining them, your website requires the same attention.
What you think would work well and be a sure thing may actually bomb, and things you though would not work may be unexpectedly successful.
You need to know what is effective and what’s not so you can improve the website for even better results, and remove the elements that add no value.
Developing a website is part science and partly an art. There are things that work well most of the time and other things that we just don’t know. It is a process of trial and error to get it right.
Fortunately, there are some good tools to ‘spy’ on your visitors to enhance their experience and improve the actions they take on the website.
Optimise For The Search Engines
Create a Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools account and add your new website.
These tools provide valuable analysis and information on your site. They track thinks like:
- Words and phrases people search to find your website
- Broken Links
- What Devices are used
- Location of Visitors
- Operating systems used to view
- Browsers used
- …and a whole lot more data which you can use to refine and improve your website.
A good CMS platform like WordPress can include statistics and analytics in the dashboard for a quick overview on how your site is travelling. Often Google Analytics results can be pulled in so you have a central place to view the website and visitor data.
However, it is no substitute for logging into Google Analytics and Webmaster tools regularly to see how things are tracking.
There are a myriad of other tools available to see what people are doing on your website and to improve their experience and your conversions. These include tools that track where people scroll and click, create two versions of a single page to test which performs better, how people flow through the pages, where people came from, where they go to after leaving, and lots lots more.
You can be overwhelmed with statistics and data, so choose a few tools that will track some key metrics to help you improve. In most cases, Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools provides more than enough data and statistics to be useful.Next Steps
If you are considering a new website or having an existing website redesigned, Positive Business Online is a full service Digital Agency that works with businesses to create effective online assets and strategies.
We have set out here some of the processes and things we pay particular attention to when creating websites and online marketing systems for business.
We are well established and have been working with businesses since 2008 helping them implement effective, affordable and importantly results driven and profitable online marketing strategies.
If you would like further information on how you can accelerate you business leads, sales and profits online please feel free to get a 50 Minute Website Makeover.