Creo built our first website in 1999, back when Facebook wasn’t even a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye. Since then, the rise of Google, social networks and smartphones mean that the internet is a much bigger place, with more than a billion users worldwide. You have more ways of reaching people than ever, so you need to make sure that you’re using the channels that are best for you.
This blog’s title alluded to the behaviour of your website and how to make it work for you. But “Do you know what your website did last night?” is a trick question. Part of knowing how your website did is knowing where your visitors came from, which networks and advertising platforms are bringing people through to your site. Knowing what your website did last night is knowing how your broader marketing strategy is working for you.
The real point of our talk was that you need to build your website into your business plan.
Work within a bigger picture
“No website is an island” is a term that we coined to express where a website should sit within an organisation’s marketing strategy. Do they want it for lead generation? Sharing content? To sell products or services? Knowing what the goal of your site is will give you clear parameters to aim for. For one thing, how are you going to tell whether your website is a success or not if you don’t know what you want it to achieve?
It’s always worth remembering that different organisations will see success in very different ways. For example, a recruitment site wants to share opportunities and generate leads, so they’ll want lots of new visitors to make sure they can expand their client base. A magazine website, on the other hand, might want lots of returning visitors, because that shows that they have a loyal fanbase and that their marketing has successfully built up a community.
But having a website isn’t a success in and of itself. If your site’s just sitting there looking pretty, it isn’t doing its job. And just as a bus is purposeless without passengers, a website needs visitors to make it worthwhile – it can’t do its job unless there’s someone in the driving seat.
To get the results you want, you need to take a step back from your website and see where it fits into your business strategy. What counts as a success for your business? The outcomes that you aim for in the real world should influence the way you bring people to your website.
Treating your website as a separate concern to the rest of your business is the wrong way of looking at your marketing. Instead, you need to see how it all works together before you can see what it does for you. When all of your channels, such as social media, PPC and SEO, are working towards the same goal as your website, that’s when it starts to really work for you.
A new site or a new strategy?
Now, we’re in the business of building websites, it’s true. But one thing that we’ve learned over the years is that our clients don’t always need a new site. If your digital strategy isn’t using each of its components to their best advantage, missed opportunities in one place will lead to issues elsewhere. There’s no point in having the world’s most wonderful website if your other marketing methods aren’t bringing people through to it.
So we might take a look at your content strategy and see if a rewrite will make it easier for users to navigate your site, or recommend some changes to your visuals, to make it more appealing to your visitors. Or you might want stronger Social Media or an email campaign to get people to your site and giving you the hits you need – it might not be your site that’s the problem.
If you’re an ecommerce site, for example, and you find that you get a spike in your traffic on Wednesday lunchtimes, you can push relevant products and offers on your homepage to help boost your sales. If this becomes a regular occurrence, you could even set up a midweek sale slot and see what comes of that – or share vouchers via email newsletters that offer a discount for people who shop during your peak times.
If you get another spike on Saturday mornings from men on their mobiles coming to your site from social media, you might want to think about tailoring your tweets and giving them what they want to look at, making it easier for them to buy from you.
This is why your website isn’t an island. It should be part of a connected system of marketing channels that work together to bring in business online.
Build your site into your business
Our seminar concluded that you should look at your website in the context of the way all of your business marketing works. Once you’ve assessed the reality of how your channels perform, you can build a strategy that takes advantage of their strengths when they work together.
And while it’s true that every organisation will want their site to do different things, making sure you cover a few key basics will go a long way to helping your website perform. Updating regularly, sharing links to your site on social media, and making sure that your written content includes relevant keywords are important for every website.
Your website should be at the heart of a bigger picture, and that bigger picture is your business. How you market yourself, online and offline. should all work together to make sure your organisation keeps moving forward, into the future.