The website is an important piece of your digital marketing strategy. It may serve as a gateway to gather information, or the actual destination where a sale takes place.
It’s an opportunity for a visitor to discover what makes your brand unique, to find the information they’re looking for, and to guide them in their decision to buy.
You may have all sorts of marketing campaigns running: adds on Google, posts on Facebook, blog articles. And all of it is bring in new customers, and they eventually end up on your website.
All of that attention on your website makes it one of the most valuable pieces of digital real estate that you own. The better your marketing, the more visibility your website has. Online consumers are fickle, and that’s because digital interactions are so commonplace.
Users are spoiled by companies that are doing it well. They’re just used to things working, and they expect that the information they want will be available and accurate. When it’s not there, they’re disappointed and credibility is lost for whatever brand they’re interacting with.
The truth is, if your website isn’t good, you’re going to fall further and further behind as the landscape evolves. And if your website doesn’t work on mobile, you’re already behind. Chances are there is a competitor with a better online experience, and your customers will seek them out if they’re fumbling with yours. So let’s talk about how to make sure your experience is good enough. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just has to be successful.
An effective website is simple, well thought out, and highly functional. It should be intuitive and eliminate any and all barriers so your visitor can accomplish their goals effortlessly. In our marketing strategy, we’re aiming for shared value, and it’s the same with your website. Your business goals and the needs of your target market should overlap. And while we’re drawing similarities to our marketing strategy, I’ll also point out that your website only needs to appeal to your target market. So spend your effort designing it to work for that audience.
As you evaluate your current website, take some time to ask yourself the following questions.
First, is it mobile friendly? The amount of people using their mobile devices to browse the web is staggering, so design with mobile in mind. Now, later on, we’re going to talk about something called responsive design, and that’ll help give you some more ideas around the topic of being mobile friendly.
The next question is: does it load properly in all modern web browsers. If your site looks one way on Safari for a Mac and another way on Chrome for PC, you’re not really controlling the experience. Test it out on all of the modern browsers. I recommend browserstack.com as a way to quickly test your site across platforms.
Next, ask yourself does it answer all the questions my users have or may have. Now, a good practice is to write down things your customers ask for, whether it’s via phone, e-mail, or even when they come into your place of business.
You can then check to see if those answers are easily found on your website. And if they’re not, then you need to put that information online. From here, ask yourself is the site reflective of my brand. Within the first couple of seconds, a user is going to decide how the site feels to them. You need to make sure your brand is carried through.
Luxury brands need to feel elegant, whereas discount sites can focus more on the sales. Make sure your logo, tag line, and the color scheme all reflect your brand. You definitely want things to be consistent.
Now, from here, ask yourself is it up to date. Nothing is worse than information that’s out of date. It also creates concern with users, so be sure to keep information current. And if you have a blog, try to use it at least weekly.
From here, ask yourself are all of your services and products easy to find. Because online marketing is so niche, your target audience is likely looking for something specific.
Can they find it on your website? If they can’t find it, and they call, and you say it is a service or product that you offer, well, that’s a problem. It really needs to be on your site if it is something that you offer. Another thing is are all of your policies easy to find.
That is to say if you ship or handle returns, can the user understand the process clearly. Will they know how long shipping takes? When can they expect a call back or for that product to arrive? You want to provide ample feedback so a user knows where they stand in the process.
Finally, one of the best criteria for your site is how does it compare to your competitor. Are you proud or jealous? If you’re jealous, it’s probably time to seriously consider whether or not you need to patch up your website. Leverage your relationships with existing customers and colleagues as a way to get feedback on your site.
Ask them what they like, what they don’t like, and for any ideas. As you go about creating an effective website, I also recommend hearing from someone outside of your circle. Check out usertesting.com. For a small fee, they can have a real person spend time on your website and give you honest and unbiased feedback. And as I said earlier, your website is possibly the most valuable piece of your digital marketing strategy. Take your time and conduct an honest evaluation.