If you’re building a company website, you probably have expectations for its performance after launch. Most companies do – the traffic will stream in and sales will soar. But do you know how your website will meet your expectations? Where will your traffic come from? How will you turn website traffic into qualified business leads? What role will your website play in your overall business marketing plan? That’s where a website strategy comes in.
A website strategy is your long-term approach to online success. It’s based on business objectives and the needs of your website users. Your website strategy also needs a solid execution plan, or it’s likely to fail.
So, let’s talk website strategy. (It’s not as difficult as you think.)
Tactics vs. Strategy
“All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.” Sun Tzu
There is a difference between a tactic and a strategy. A strategy is your overall plan for your website. A tactic is how you achieve it.
You may want to get more visitors to your website. That’s a strategy. Using a blog to publish articles is a tactic. A strategy is a plan; a tactic is the execution. In the article Why even bother to think about strategy? Seth Godin writes,
There’s confusion between tactics and strategy. It’s easy to get tied up in semantic knots as you work to figure out the distinction. It’s worth it, though, because strategy can save you when tactics fail.
If a tactic fails, you should consider abandoning it.
But that doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with your strategy. Your strategy is what you keep doing even after you walk away from a tactic.
Your website strategy is more than a list of tactics, it’s the plan that drives your digital marketing campaign. Keep that in mind when creating a strategy for your company.
Who Gets Involved?
If additional shareholders are involved in creating a website for your business, be sure to ask them to go through the same process. Ask them what they expect from the company website after launch, and compare notes. It’s best to get on the same page early on to avoid confusion and rework.
Do you have an internal marketing team? Will you hire a digital marketing agency to handle things after launch? (You may be interested in Should I Hire a Marketing Agency or an In-House Marketer?) Involve this team as well, as they will be the ones to execute your strategy in the future. Their input is invaluable; they’ll be able to tell you what’s realistic and how to best achieve your goals long-term.
Creating a Website Strategy
Your strategy doesn’t have to come out of thin air or be ground shaking. Instead, base your website strategy on two items:
- Website Objectives
- User Needs
This approach is part of the process of designing a website around people. Website strategy is built on your company objectives + user needs (for more info on this process, view Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garrett).
What are Your Website Objectives?
The first step to creating a business website strategy is to define the objectives for your website. Your website objectives should support your business objectives. Think about what your expectations are for your website after launch. Make a list.
- Establish an Authoritative Online Presence
- Increase Relevant Website Visitors
- Generate Leads
- Educate Current Clients
Get Specific with Goals
The objectives for your business website will result in specific goals created to measure your success. To transition from an abstract objective to a specific and measurable business goal, determine these five elements for each objective:
(Read New Year, New Goals for more on how to set website goals.)
Most companies have a website with analytics data (for more info read Start Using Analytics Data to Understand Your Audience). Check the data from your website to help you establish baselines for your goals. Make sure you establish a target – where you want to go from your baseline – and ensure it’s measurable. Otherwise, you’ll have a difficult time figuring out if your website is successful or not.
Here are a few examples of website goals:
- Increase website traffic from 200 visits/month to 250 visits/month within 1 month
- Increase email newsletter signups by 20% within 3 weeks
- Drive 50% of overall website traffic from Indiana within 1 year
If you don’t have a company website or analytics data, you can still establish goals for your website.
Who Are Your Website Users?
Part two is to identify the needs of those who will use the website once it’s online. Think about the people who will use your website, both within your company and outside it.
Questions to ask:
- Why are they visiting your website?
- What goals are they trying to complete?
- What must they have to leave satisfied?
Understanding User Needs
Designing a website for people to use is a lot like designing anything else for people – like a service or product. Your website is, after all, a marketing tool for your company. To market effectively, you should know who is going to receive your message. “If you don’t understand who they are or what they need from your service, you can’t build the right thing.” (Start by Learning User Needs).
The website isn’t being built for only your clients or customers, it’s also for your internal sales and marketing team, your investors, or anyone else who will use the website. List everyone, internal and external, and ask others to do the same.
How to Get Information
The way to find out what your users want is to ask them and dig into resources like social media, analytics, Google Trends, etc. Solid research is the only way to generate real data, so you can make decisions based on facts, not opinions. You can gather information in many ways. Here are a few ways to go straight to the end user and ask them:
Distribute surveys: Send surveys to existing and potential customers via mail, email or a web-based service like SurveyMonkey.
Conduct interviews: Talk to consumers who might fit in your target market. For example, you could stand in a high-traffic area at a trade show and ask attendees to answer a few short questions.
Assemble focus groups: Get feedback from a small group of consumers who fit your ideal customer profile via Q&A sessions and group discussions.
(Read Target Market Analysis by BigCommerce for more.)
Once you identify user needs, it’s much more straightforward to create a website to meet them. Designing a website around the needs of your users is excellent for your business – it makes your website more likely to be used, it reduces the need for extensive changes after launch, and it makes your website users feel better about your brand. It’s true: Good design is good for business.
Executing Your Website Strategy
It’s easy to think up a great strategy; what’s difficult is execution. Consider how you plan to accomplish your website strategy. In other words, what marketing tactics will you use to meet the goals for your website? What role will your website play to achieve each goal?
Here is a list of common website tactics used by marketers to execute a company website strategy:
- Google AdWords
- Social Media
Defining your plan for strategy execution allows you to set up your website to support it. For example, if you decide you’ll use e-mail automation to create an inbound marketing strategy, you can plan for it now, before your website is built. It’s ideal to set up your website for success early on, and this is one of the ways to do it.
Additionally, is your company set up to execute the strategies you’ve planned? Who is responsible for the execution of your website strategy?
“Successful strategic outcomes are best achieved when those responsible for execution are also part of the planning or formulation process. The greater the interaction between “doers” and “planners” or the greater the overlap of the two processes or tasks, the higher the probability of execution success.” Lawrence G. Hrebiniak, Making Strategy Work: Leading Effective Execution and Change.
If you plan to hire a digital marketing agency to execute your website’s strategy, it makes sense to include them in the planning process for your website. This is one of Artonic’s core advantages over competitors: our team offers everything you need to plan and execute a website strategy, including web designers, developers, and marketers.
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