Strategy. Stra-tuh-gee. Strat-gee? Any way you say it, strategy should start every web development process. Sure, designers, marketers and programmers in all shapes and sizes will come-a-courtin’ as soon as you even hint the words “I need a new website.” But unless their conversation starts with “strategy” – in lieu of branding, design, Flash, mobile marketing, content management, or whatever buzzword may be hot that week – I’d suggest walking running away as quickly as possible.
Change is not a destination, just as hope is not a strategy.
– Rudy Giuliani
Below, I’ve listed five basic strategy steps to ensure success in your website development process. Follow these using a little marketing smarts and you’ll come out ahead in the game.
Strategy Step 1: Set Goals
Developing a website without first setting goals is a little like playing checkers with a blind man. Sure it makes for short, less challenging games, but what do you really gain in the end?
Internet marketers need to prioritize their goals for every website. Expectations for each site varies, but they usually center around a few key goals:
1. Defining the positioning
2. Defending the brand
3. Awareness / education
4. Display / distribution of products & services
5. Building quality leads
Develop your strategy around your goals and you will be starting off on the right foot.
Strategy Step 2: Design with goals in mind
It’s been said that 50% of all website visitors are lost within the first four to six seconds because they cannot find the product or service they are looking for. Why do you think that is?
Being a designer at heart, I understand the aesthetic value to marketing and specifically for interactive user interface, but by setting goals and building a targeted strategy (selling units for instance) has very little to do with cheesy Flash animations or the roll-over state of your navigation buttons. It does have a lot to do with how customers find your product or service. So design the site with the goals in mind and move the visitors to the right page efficiently and effectively.
Strategy Step 3: Track Goal Conversion
This strategy should be at the front of your mind when navigating through the previous stage. If your site is designed with conversion of your goals as a priority, you will be able to track the traffic to and within your website.
For example, let’s say you have 120 visitors to your site tomorrow with 60 of them going to the product/service page. How many actually clicked on the “sign up,” “purchase,” or “more info” links? And then, of those clicks, how many finally made it through to your sales or customer service center?
This needs to be tracked. Even if you’re not a retailer with an e-commerce section to your site, you should find out what pages your visitors land on, leave from and what were the reasons for their exit.
Some questions to ask your interactive developer:
1. Is your website’s navigation confusing?
2. Does your website display a value proposition that would benefit the visitor?
3. Do the headlines on your website elicit action?
4. Is the content on your website unique and keyword friendly?
Tracking traffic and goal conversions within your site is imperative for successful marketing. If you don’t care where your visitors are going, how can they care if they find you?
Strategy 4: SEO – Content Optimization (for organic search rank)
I went to “Home Improvement Warehouse & Testosterone Megastore” yesterday looking for “Deck Screws.” The service person knew exactly what I needed, but when I looked on the box, it didn’t say “Deck Screws.” It said, “Galvanized Wood Fasteners.” Is that what I wanted? Of course!
As a business owner, you speak one very specific language. Your customers, on the other hand, speak a similar, yet slightly different dialect. If you create your website content geared toward how your customers speak (search), you’ve instantly created a bridge that the search engines can naturally connect. That’s organic content optimization.
If I waked into “Home Improvement Warehouse & Testosterone Megastore” asking for “Deck Screws” and the service person just looked blankly at me, how long do you think I would have stayed?
Strategy 5: Metrics & Testing
Finally, the “fun part,” is called metrics and testing. Here, all of the previous strategy steps come together to show you the ROI of your website. They key to success of your business lies in maintaining, monitoring and managing your metrics. The metrics will tell you exactly what is converting and what is not. The metrics will tell you if you’re speaking the same language as your searching customers.
What amount of sales happened yesterday?
Which page of your website converted the most?
Where are you listed on Google for your target keywords? How about Bing? Yahoo?
From which location did the biggest number of visitors come?
What can you change and “Test” against the metrics you were given this month?
Finally, what is your ROI?
It’s not rocket science. Businesses launch new or revised websites hundreds of times every minute. And I’d be willing to bet a majority of them don’t take these 5 simple strategies into account.
Does your website have strategy? How can you change your current site to incorporate some of these results-driven strategies? How can Love Scott help you get there?
Andrew B. Clark – Interactive Director