Websites are rarely a case of “build it and they will come”. But crafting websites is not the scary new discipline that many have come to believe it is.
Still trying to adapt your prehistoric methods to the digital age? Consider this:
|Word-of-mouth||Review sites & social media|
|Newspaper advertising||Display advertising|
|Traditional press release||Online PR & Outreach|
|Radio advert||Digital media advert|
|TV advert||YouTube advert|
I come across so many vanity websites that act as personal sounding boards. Ever seen a website with a big picture of the staff front and centre with a full ‘Welcome to….’ paragraph? Yeah, me too, loads of them, but I’ve never come across a high-street store that expects its customers to read the spiel and check out the staff biographies before being presented with the product.
It’s these disconnects that often cause would-be modern marketers to think that the digital world is beyond their reach. But it isn’t. Of course, it’s also vital that at some point you delve into the intricacies of the digital consumer, but if you’re just starting out and looking for a foothold, try not to be overwhelmed with the fine details. Go with what you already know.
The channels may be different, but the art of attracting customers relies on tried and tested methodologies:
- Ensure you have a great brand presence
- Write enticing copy
- Make sure a professional designer produces your imagery
- Write concise and attractive descriptions of your business, product, and service
- Ensure excellent customer service to entice wordof-mouth referrals
- Conduct valuedriven outreach & PR
- Embark on finely targeted paid advert campaigns
There’s one channel, though, that doesn’t have a like-for-like predecessor. Not even close.
Has there ever before been a channel that instantly produces accurate responses to a customer’s request? I could quite easily write a book’s worth of content about using Google, but I’ll save it for future additions to this section. Or just give me a call, I love talking about this stuff with website owners.
With the field of internet users reaching up into the billions, it’s extremely important that you only target those who are most likely to avail of your product or service. The chances of wasting thousands of dollars and man hours is all too real.
In an ideal world, you would:
- Create a rough ideal-customer description for each of your products, or your offerings as a whole
- Use Google Analytics or other data-gathering tools to check demographic information and compare with your customer descriptions, and fine-tune as necessary
- Understand which channels are likely to offer the most potential for targeting your audience, and devise full strategies and KPIs for each
- Apply the aforementioned methodologies to every aspect of each channel
Be prepared to evaluate and optimise your campaigns every step of the way. If, like us, you’re largely data-driven, you’re going to come across a few surprises throughout your campaign, even at fundamental levels.
To give you an example, I’ve spent 18 months working with a client who had to change his entire business model because his ‘ideal customer’ was way off the mark. This client had worked in his industry for 20+ years and had developed an innovative new product for an audience he thought would be young professionals looking to up their spend in the home improvements sector. His reasoning was sound, but it quickly became evident that his audience was much older than reason would have had him believe pre-launch. His adaptability, coupled with our intelligence gathering, allowed him to re-structure all his campaigns, and within a couple of weeks business was booming.
It really pays to remain flexible and expect the unexpected, and it’s essential to conduct these evaluations at regular intervals. Each month, we produce reports on all the data important to a campaign, and offer our clients a mini-strategy call where we suggest tweaks and improvements. They might only be small improvements, but I assure you that they add up over a 12- or 24-month period.
Here’s where your website comes into play. You’ve selected your channels, outlined your strategies, and defined your customers. Although there might be other options available to you for inducing sales or enquiries, it’s your website that should take pride of place in the portfolio. Sure, resellers like Amazon or Ebay could play a crucial part in your success, but you should never rely on areas outside of your complete control for your own long-term growth.
Your website has amazing potential for nurturing customers. Your analytics data can show you how they enter the website, which pages are most popular, how long people spend on the website or a particular area or page, and where they exit. This data is like gold dust, and can shape your onsite strategy on its own.
- Are you finding that users are heading straight to a product with low margins? Well, you might not be giving enough prominence to your highticket items. Consider re-structuring your navigation, or promoting certain items above others on your homepage.
- Are you seeing that the people reading the blog post you spent hours pouring your heart and soul into is not providing real ROI? Consider a Conversion Rate Optimisation strategy on that one page, and include some productrelated calls to action at opportune points. A/B test a few versions and implement the most successful one.
- Did you get excited over your designer’s capability to implement a singing and dancing version of your mascot that jumped around the page? Well, your customers probably don’t agree with you, and your Google Analytics data will prove conclusively one way or another.
Nurturing your customers doesn’t end when the users leave your website. It can often be just the start of a well-planned e-mail strategy. Did the user abandon their shopping cart with a product inside it? Did someone leave a live-chat halfway through? These people are qualified at various levels, and need tailored strategies to entice them back.
You might be seeing repeat visitors making many orders. How about implementing an account facility where return users can repeat their previous orders with a single click, or show them which products they previously viewed and invite them to add it to their cart?
Digital strategy can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be, but the important thing to note is that it doesn’t take expert-level knowledge to get going. Although we’re a digital agency, we strongly encourage all business owners to take the leap on their own and have a real go at digital. Just remember to take it one step at a time and apply the principles and knowledge that you’ve learned about the world before the internet was so important. Although the web changes rapidly, its users still possess an archaic lizard brain, and they aren’t afraid to use it.