Your website is where people start
If someone is referred to your company, what do they do first? Look you up online. Where do your target audiences look for information on the goods and services you offer? The internet.
Your website is a point of choice because 1) audiences are looking online and 2) they will choose to look further … or not.
You already know a website is essential to anyone in any kind of business. It’s more powerful than a phone number. It has far more reach than a brochure. It’s a 24/7 marketing message and customer engagement tool. It’s more than a vital part in any marketing strategy. Today it’s at the center of your marketing program.
And your website is a top-tier point of choice for any brand. A point of choice is where your audiences choose to take action. The action could be to look further, to click through … or to go back to the search results. It’s where you can see the biggest impact when you invest in tuning it up to appeal to your audiences and what they’re looking for.
Yet so many organizations have a website that is nothing more than an online brochure. A static, copy heavy, hard-to-read discussion of “we, we, we” with little information of value to the right visitor, the one that could turn into a customer.
Or their website is so out of date that it can’t be read easily on a smartphone. Or it’s been built on old technology so it’s difficult for staff to update and maintain … which means it’s not updated or maintained, so Google passes over it. Because Google likes fresh content.
Marketing has changed. Your website must be at the center.
In just three years, your audiences have changed how they research and buy. Because there is so much information available online … in the form of blogs, websites, chat rooms, reviews, social and so on and so on, people are looking at more sources of information before they contact anyone to discuss a purchase. That’s why your website is an essential point of choice.
- In 2010, on average people used 5.3 sources of information to evaluate their options
- In 2011, on average 10.4 sources were reviewed before moving forward
- In 2012 more than 16 different sources helped drive a buying decision
Social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, YouTube (now the #2 search engine behind Google) and LinkedIn; online access via smartphone or tablet; shopping from a phone or tablet; use of social media for recommendations and referrals; and online research before a purchase (true in both the B2B and B2C world); have all changed what your audiences expect, how and where they search, and how they choose.
It’s a significant disruption to the “old way” of marketing. To be successful you must shift your thinking and your marketing strategy, just as your audiences have changed their expectations, how they buy and where they search.
Build your website as your online brand.
At the center of your marketing, your website must be tuned to be found, then to engage the right audiences to look further and respond. When content, layout and functionality work well together, you’ll give what your audiences need to know and understand to choose you. As a point of choice, your website will drive response, inquiries and new business. And your analytics will tell you what’s working.
A quick checklist … are you ready for today’s online surfers, visitors, searchers and buyers? Here’s what it takes to make your website a point of choice.
- When someone searches for what you offer, does your website show up? That means your keywords and content describe your products and services using their terms, not your industry’s technical jargon.
- Does the home page pass the “blink test,” to immediately communicate why visitors should choose to look further?
- Does your website show and support your brand’s key messaging and positioning?
- Are there clear calls to action on every page?
- Have you optimized your content to be found by search engines?
- Have you aligned your offline brand (traditional advertising and print materials) with your online brand?
- Does your site offer help or just sell? Do you provide what researchers are looking for and not just push “contact us”?
- Is your website mobile friendly? Or have you built a mobile-specific website?
- Do you continually refresh and update your website with new content, through a blog, or with updated information so Google will pay attention?
Your website is an essential point of choice. When you update and rethink it to appeal to your audiences with great visuals and valuable content, you’ll leverage your marketing effectiveness. You’ll see more response to ALL of your marketing tactics.
Want to read more about marketing from the point of choice?
Here’s more information on inbound marketing, evaluating your website and building your online brand.
- Download our overview of inbound marketing
- Read this blog post about turning your website into a 24/7 sales machine with inbound marketing
- Read more about aligning your online and offline brand to increase impact
- Website evaluation and analysis needs more than an SEO audit
Where to start.
Start with our scorecard … Then take a look at the traffic that’s coming to your website (Google Analytics is free and can tell you a lot). Establish your goals … more traffic? More leads? New audiences? Then give us a call toll-free, 866.363.4433. Because your marketing strategy must set up your website strategy … before you start programming. Design the blueprint before you contract out the construction.
More insight about online marketing is in this Flipboard compilation of articles. View my Flipboard Magazine.