A LANDSCAPE ANALYSIS
Step one is ALWAYS the landscape analysis. To build a solid foundation we need to understand the competitive landscape, so we carefully research your target market, see who your competitors are and learn what they do well and what they do poorly. We need to know what your competitors do well because you need to be at least as good as they are and knowing what they do poorly lets us spot opportunity and low hanging fruit.
Often our clients tell us they know who their competitors are. This is a red flag, unless they are seasoned marketers. It’s not about who YOU think your competitors are, it’s about who your CUSTOMERS think your competitors are.
This is why we also interview your clients/customers. Not only do we learn who your REAL competitors are, but also learn about their tastes and preferences which allows us to build a better performing website.
STRATEGY AND MESSAGING
What is it that you do differently – and more importantly – BETTER than your competition?
“Outstanding Customer Service” doesn’t count. EVERYONE says that.
This is the most important part of the strategy and the part that even seasoned professionals often don’t seem to understand. And it’s hard. Building a website that converts visitors into customers is a lot like the game of GO. It’s simple to explain but takes a lifetime to master. But if you can answer this one question, converting is easy. All you have to do is get your answer in front of as many people as possible.
Many of our clients don’t have a marketing department or are a team of only one or two people, so this is their “strategic roadmap” with actionable items to guide them in the future.
Now if you get this right, marketing your website is a piece of cake. It’s just about getting your message in front of as many people as possible, and never in the history of the world have we had more people or the tools to get your message in front of them.
Since the homepage is the most critical page of your website – this is where in milliseconds visitors decide if they will stay or if they will go – we like to focus on that first.
We create 5 mockups ranging from conservative to a little bit out there. Then you choose the one you kind-of, sort-of like the best and we make revisions to that until you LOVE the homepage. This is a VERY effective technique to focus in on what you are looking for and create a design that knocks people’s socks off!
Once the mock-up is “approved to code” we code the homepage on our development server to match the approved mock-up exactly.
Then there are two ways we can proceed. If we have the budget, the very best way is to do mockups of all the key pages, then match them on the development server.
If the budget is tight, we can let the content guide us and, using the homepage as our model, lay them out directly on the development server. Since the homepage design dictates the look and feel of the website, once visitors are engaged they are most interested in learning more about your product or service so often simple is better. This approach can be VERY effective and beautiful.
Having a great looking website without a plan to drive traffic is a lot like dressing up in your best Armani suit and staying in on Friday night. What good is a great website if no one sees it?
This is why you need to think about Pay Per Click Ads, Email Drip Marketing, Social Media and SEO. Once we have built your website we can also help bring visors to it.
We recommend doing a full SEO sweep to make sure that not only is your content performing but that it is optimized for the search terms you customers are looking for. Then you should advertise across as many channels as your budget permits.
We build and market a LOT of websites so we see what works and what doesn’t. And one thing for certain is that these days it’s all about the data. Once you have traffic to your website, you need to see how they behave and adjust. You should ALWAYS be looking at your analytics and responding to the data. These tools make converting visitors into customers easy.
First you look at which of the platforms you set up in step 5 are driving relevant traffic. Then you double down on the good ones and stop the bad ones.
Then look at how your visitors behave. Usually the path is pretty obvious. If they leave quickly, you need more engaging content. Better pictures and text. If they spend a lot of time on the page but don’t buy, you need a better call to action. And if they go to the cart but don’t complete the purchase, then you need to work on your pricing. it’s literally that simple.
Like evolution, survival of the fittest, once you get your website dialed in, you need to be continuously improving it. The world – and especially the internet – is constantly changing and what works today may no longer work tomorrow.
What we suggest is always be A/B testing your website pages. Create alternate versions of each key page and randomly display them to visitors. There are tools that help you analyze the traffic and where people are clicking. After a few weeks it’s usually obvious which one performs better. Then archive the bad one and A/B test the new one against yet another experiment.
CAUTION: This needs to be done in an organized manner or you won’t know WHY one page is outperforming another. The “WHY” is VERY important!