How to make sure your Web efforts grow your business
“In the Internet industry, the easy thing to do is give a client exactly what they ask for. The right thing to do is to give them what they need to achieve their goals,” advises Kevin Hourigan, President and CEO of Web development and online marketing agency, Bayshore Solutions. “I find that when I ask the deeper question of ‘What do you expect the (insert web technology or service here) to do for you?’ the answer is usually a form of ‘Grow my business.’ I rely on a seven-stage method to deliver the Web technology and marketing expertise to deliver those growth results.”
Smart Business spoke with Hourigan about the sequence of steps that creates a high-performance web presence and drives business growth.
Is there a reliable recipe for the best Web results?
Based on our own 16+ years experience and evolution of serving clients, our team has developed a Web methodology consisting of 7 stages, with each successive stage building upon the previous one, and providing feedback for the continual improvement of the entire Web program. Depending on the industry, business model and other dynamics, a specific business may need to incorporate just few or the full range of elements in each phase to accomplish their goals, but each stage needs to be addressed to build and maintain a robust Web presence that competes and performs well.
What are the 7 steps of Web success?
1. Envision This is the “Business and Marketing 101” that needs to be complete before any Web design, development or technology is addressed. You need clear answers to: What is your Business brand and personality? What are your goals and objectives for your Web presence? Who is your target audience and what makes them click – what are your customer personas? What actions do you want to elicit with your Web assets. This step is the foundation that all later steps must be aligned to and built upon.
2. Design In this stage the styling, design, and architecture is created that strikes the perfect balance of brand personality, message, visual communication and user interface to resonate with your target audience and entice them to desired action. Much more than layout, color and imagery, it is a purposeful, strategic blend of science and art applied to your business’s online identity.
3. Build Now the design is applied to the appropriate platforms and devices for your business needs. Web functionality and features are developed to create the best user experience, and technology integrations are connected both on the public facing and administrative facets of your Web presence. As this stage completes, you have a “live” website to launch your online growth initiatives from.
4. Attract In this step, the basic Web marketingtactics appropriate to your business model and markets are developed and deployed. This includes search engine optimization (SEO), paid search advertising (pay-per-click, display, and retargeting campaigns), email marketing campaigns and online initiatives to attract targeted attention and traffic to your business.
5. Examine This essential stage ensures that the right tracking and analytics are implemented so that your key performance metrics can reliably guide ongoing marketing and business decisions. Regular research and testing rooted in this step will confirm current validity of the elements in all the stages, signal needed adjustments, and guide incremental as well as dramatic gains in ongoing results.
6. Connect More advanced outreach and web interconnectivity is deployed in this stage. Content marketing and syndication utilizing both written (articles, press releases, eBooks) and visual multi-media (videos, webcasts, podcasts, interactive apps) formats are the tactical tools. Establishing a corporate blog is a natural part of this step, and creating presence and active engagement in social media puts you in touch with your audiences wherever they connect to your topic or brand.
7. Engage This is the most often missed stepthat can powerfully differentiate a business’s growth results. Here your workflows, communication, measurement and management are linked together with marketing automation, lead qualification and customer relationship management (CRM) technology. Streamlining the processes in this stage will help you efficiently move your leads into sales – and further into satisfied repeat customers and referrals to new customers.
Web technologies, best practices, the latest networks, trends, tools and ‘shiny objects’ do change (often rapidly) in this digital age. These seven steps and their strategic considerations provide a consistent, grounded framework in such a dynamic environment. It is important to have a solid core established in each stage before taking on the next when developing your business Web presence, and to evaluate your best next steps.
Consulting this end-to-end methodology will cause you to ask the right questions and take a holistic, strategic approach to each aspect of your business’s web presence, better understand how one interconnects with the rest, and help you create the Web presence that brings your business the best growth results.