The biggest question you can ask any webmaster is, why does your website exist? I really can think of few businesses or organizations that run without a website. Internet Marketing standards are now a reality. Its almost standard practice, that if you have a business you have a website. Its really hard to separate the two. But a webmaster or a marketing director needs to have a plan when they set up their website. You should be able to clearly articulate 3 to 5 reasons (there could be more) of why your website exists, and those reasons need to be measurable.
Lets work through a couple of examples.
Momma’s Daily Brew is a local coffee shop and they have a website that could be viewed in just a couple of minutes. Its straight to the point, gives customers directions, menu prices, and hours of operation. Its actually a quite well designed site with great graphics. The problem with this site is that its a glorified brochure – it does not engage with visitors, its purposes aren’t trackable (therefore not fixable), and there is no need to interact with it. If you’re a web designer you’ve seen this 100 times. Because what eventually happens is that Momma questions why she even has a website. She’ll complain that it does absolutely nothing for her – and she’s right!
People don’t surf the web for brochures. They want to interact, engage, and experience websites. What makes the social networking sites so attractive and appealing? People can engage with other people in an ongoing experiences. The absolute best thing that Momma could do is to write down why her website exists and they design the website around those reasons, build into the design ways to measurably track those reasons to show whether or not the site is working.
Acme widgets is a machine shop that makes small to medium sized widgets for various larger business around the world. They’ve done their homework and their website has three purposes:
- To increase their reach and brand awareness.
- To showcase their products and services.
- To gain new customers.
They’ve decided to do three measurable things in order to show they are accomplishing their goals.
To increase their reach and brand awareness. In order to accomplish their first goal, they designed a clever “About Us” section to their site, that engages their visitor and eventually asks them to sign up for their e-newsletter. How well is their website doing at increasing the companies reach and driving brand awareness? Well, one way to look it is to see how many e-newsletter subscriptions their currently are and how rapidly is that number growing.
Increasing reach and brand awareness = number of e-newsletter subscriptions.
To showcase their products and services. Their second goal is a little more tricky. The way that their contracts work Acme can’t sell widgets online, and they really wouldn’t want to anyway, but they want people in the industry to know what their products are and to be able to find them. So they developed a simple Search Engine Advertising campaign and drove specific traffic to special landing pages of their site that were completely designed to showcase one product at a time and get visitors to request additional information from a contact form.
Showcasing products and services = contact form submissions.
To gain new customers. The last goal is seeminly most important. Acme designed a marketing strategy around getting visitors to sign up to attend webinars. From these webinars the Acme sales team can focus in on explaining their unique process and build relationships with visitors, and move website visitors to webinar attendees to new customers.
Gaining new customers = New leads from webinar attendees.
Momma, could easily come up with 3 to 5 reasons and focus her website around those reasons. For instance, maybe one is driving website traffic through her front door. Well, if website visitors click the Facebook “Like” button they get a coupon for a free coffee. Therefore the more people who click “Like” will also drive customers through the front door. Plus she’ll have grown her marketing audience.
Acme wasn’t a special case, every single website on the internet can come up with a strategy to make their website traffic work for them. But that’s the trick isn’t it – brochures take a bunch work up front. A website done well, is never done. Why does your website exist?