Is it time for a website update? Probably!
Many organizations are re-evaluating their websites now on the heels of explosive growth in online technologies; the proven success of inbound marketing methods; and rapidly changing buyer habits.
Whether business to business (B2B) or consumers, nearly everyone starts their search for goods and services online. And they’re doing far more research, comparing, analyzing and information gathering than ever before. They’re making full use of everything the web has to offer … and often from a mobile phone or tablet.
For any organization who last updated their website in (hmmm … how long has it been?) 2008, 2009 or even 2010 it’s time to review your marketing strategy … with a new, information-rich, visitor-engaging, content-focused website at its center. Let’s talk website evaluation, online marketing and building your online brand.
- Facebook, founded in June of 2004, had 100 million users at the end of 2008 and now has more than 1 billion users worldwide.
- The Apple iPhone, introduced in 2007, altered the way we think of mobile phones, how we do business and how we access the internet. iPhone sales hit a record for the Q4 2012, up 29 percent year over year to 47.8 million phones.
- Apple began taking orders for their new iPad in March of 2010. The first quarter of 2013 saw sales of 22.9 million units, including the new iPad mini. The iPad spawned a new generation of tablets, laptops that double as tablets and hundreds of thousands of new apps. In fact, there is now a new term, “phablets” for oversized smartphones that are practically tablets.
- As of December 2012, 87% of American adults have a cell phone and 45% of American adults have a smartphone. As of January 2013, 26% of American adults own an e-reader and 31% of American adults own a tablet computer.
- Dropbox was officially launched in 2008 and, as of November 2012, had reached 100 million users. As of February 2013, Dropbox was responsible for 0.29% of all worldwide internet bandwidth. Plenty of happy users are now storing their files in the cloud while syncing them to their phones, tablets, laptops and desktops.
These statistics represent fundamental shifts in how we buy, how we communicate, how we share information and how businesses need to market. Today all marketing starts with online marketing.
Yet we are concerned. Deeply disturbed by the current (short-sighted) trends.
Many businesses who are considering a website update are stuck in “make it look better”or “I want new information posted.”
Instead they should be planning for “put it at the center of my marketing strategy and sales process” and “it’s my online brand” and “it’s how people are going to find what I offer.”
Here’s what we’re seeing: the online version of so many brands–small to medium size businesses, manufacturing and industrial companies, higher education institutions, non-profits–have barely any connection to the positioning, messaging and brand identity of the organization. It’s as if the website is from one organization, and the advertising and literature (traditional marketing tools) are from a completely different entity.
Such a missed opportunity!
An even larger concern–companies are relying on an SEO analysis of the current (already out of date) to guide their website evaluation.
There are lots of great SEO experts out there. They like to start a website evaluation and site redesign with a dynamite audit of the current website content … they’ll talk about your keywords, analyze traffic and sources, and build a comprehensive report that shows PageRank, top search terms, links, and most-visited pages. Cool.
What’s missing? If you build a new website based on the CURRENT website, you’re not transforming, updating and building your online brand. You’ll have more of the same, which might be better than now, but could be so much more.
How do you grow your business?
How do you reach new markets or new audiences? You don’t carry out big goals by doing more of the same.
An SEO audit is a starting place. It will find traffic volume and sources and what people are searching for when they find you. It will set the benchmarks from which to build. It’s useful and valuable, but it’s not the foundation for the new center of your marketing. It’s a single brick.
For a future-focused website evaluation, answer these key questions:
- How do you want to be perceived? What do you want people to be searching for when they find you?
- What are the central ideas and core messages that represent who you are and what you offer–from the audiences’ point of view? (remember, they’re thinking “what’s in it for me?” or they’re looking for a solution to a problem)
- What are different words or phrases to describe what you offer and why someone should choose you?
- Can the ideas, messages and images used in your advertising or publications be found on the website?
- Which traditional marketing and communication tools that are already in use can be replicated online to build brand consistency and provide fresh website content?
These are the questions that will get to the heart of who you are, who you want to be, how you want to be recognized and found. If you have already built a messaging hierarchy, that will be an essential foundation for website optimization. If you’ve already invested in outstanding marketing materials, repurpose them (and their messages and images) to the website.
Use the answers to these important questions to build a website that opens the door to new audiences, new ideas and new opportunities. Build your keywords and content around how you want to be found. Build your messages on the core ideas behind your brand, and on what your target audiences are looking for.
Bottom line … build your online brand to go beyond where you are now.
And to the future … there’s a generation growing up with this technology baked into their DNA. Are they your future market? Or even your current market? Time to get moving.
For more on this topic, you might like:
- Brand Responsibly 5: Brand positioning is messaging and identity
- Evaluate your website as a business asset, download our website scorecard
- Inbound marketing turns your website into a 24/7 sales team.
- Download our inbound marketing overview to learn more
For a further discussion on aligning your online and offline brand, visit our website. To discus a website evaluation that will put your new website at the center of your marketing strategy, call us toll-free, 866.363.4433.