You may be considering commissioning a new website design or already have a website you are pleased with. One thing's for sure, you want it to work hard to achieve your objectives. For most businesses this means getting something back from your investment or seeing the ongoing benefits of your online marketing spend. In short you want a return on your investment (ROI).
In this article we won't focus on the web design, website architecture, content or other fundamentals essential to a truly effective website. Instead we will be looking at basic features which should already be in place, or which can easily be added to your existing website or new website brief.
Ensuring users can find your website, share your content and engage with your business is essential. Additionally understanding your visitor profile and statistics and using online technologies to facilitate day to day business processes can ensure your business gets the most from the web.
Here's a few things to consider and ensure are effective on your website.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can feel like something of a black art, shrouded in mystery. But the reality is that for most websites you need new visitors to find your website via Google. This means appearing on page one and ideally in the top 3 positions.
Search Engine Optimisation is a complicated issue, involving both optimising your website content and building the world around your website with social media activity and quality back links (other web pages linking to your site).
The very fact that SEO isn't simple causes a lot of website owners to shy away from it. However even after Google's Penguin and Panda updates it is still possible to drive your website up the rankings and attract new visitors and potential customers to your business. Finding a good SEO expert could transform your online marketing, don't expect overnight results but a sustained effort should pay dividends. Good quality, original content and site updates have become important, so expect to be posting new blogs, articles or product and service information.
Alternatively consider a Pay per Click campaign (PPC). This typically means a Google Adwords campaign. By using this method you can ensure quick results and a very trackable and understandable marketing channel. In simple terms, you buy clicks to your website. If enough of those clicks results in a new business enquiry or new customer this can be a very fruitful business model.
Experienced web designers will also be proficient in creating web apps or business tools. These online systems can help you perform day to day tasks, such as managing customers, bookings or stock and enable easier ordering, tracking or reporting. A web app can be designed as a bespoke solution to you own unique business needs.
This could be as simple as enquiry handling where enquiries are registered, counted and automatic responses can be created. Further to this online applications, enrolments and subscriptions can be collected and integrated with an existing in-house CRM system, avoiding the new to manually enter data.
Whatever your own business requirements, the aim of the game is saving time and money. Consider Tesco, customers now scan their own shopping and pay before leaving the store without having spoken to a member of staff. Statistics show that for many customers this is preferable. Why not enable your customers to do your work for you!
ROI cannot be measured in direct financial growth only. Building a database of potential customers and a network of users willing to share your message can also have great benefits. Many marketing departments thrive on up to date data, mailing lists and sales departments want to identify hot prospects and user profiles.
By ensuring your website and online marketing strategy encompasses popular social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, you will be able to maintain communication with your potential or existing customers. An additional benefit is the knock on effect to search engine rankings, social media will help give your website authority and push it up the rankings.
In addition to social media why not try and pick up some extra email subscribers for your HTML email campaigns. You may need to incentivise users to give their details but this is another good way of staying in touch.
Of course, as with all online strategies social media, email campaigns and other elements which require user engagement may not be right for your business. Typically popular consumer brands, niche industries, leisure and interesting business sectors will do best. More everyday and essential services, like cleaning companies or roofers are unlikely to gather a Facebook following.
Another way of gleaning value from your website is to improve your understanding of your users. Profiling your customers and their opinion of your business and industry enables you to tailor your business and sales processes to their preferences.
Google Analytics and other web forensic tools will help identify popular content, how users view your website and from which devices. This information can help you to focus your efforts both for online and offline marketing. Reviewing popular search terms, browsing routes and exit points will all help you to understand the mindset and knowledge base of your clients.
Additionally why not add tools and feedback mechanisms. Simple polls will enable you to quickly and easily receive feedback on any area of your business and can provide useful marketing content. Also, allowing users to make comments, rate your products or provide other feedback can help identify strengths and weaknesses in your product range or service offering.
This really is a basic requirement of your website. Yet we so often see website designs which don't make it clear how the user can use your services or buy your products. Often this is as simple as including a telephone number and contact mechanism at the bottom of all pages. This may also include clear signposting to further information, or ensuring all information the user needs is quickly to hand.
Make it easy and inviting for customers to engage with your business. Simple enquiry forms, email links or even adding live chat can all make your business more accessible and demonstrate you are ready to help.
Most websites have a commercial purpose. Making sure you have the basics in place to achieve good traffic and convert visitors into new enquiries and warm prospects is essential to their success. This blog has focused on the basic and mostly inexpensive elements you can add to your website or ensure are already effective.
You may find this blog about a website ROI calculator interesting.
For advice on how to ensure your website delivers a ROI please, get in touch.