Well, it’s that time of year when we are making our New Year’s resolutions and most of us know our Corporate Website is not performing to its peak standards. For some of you, addressing this might mean fine tuning your Paid Search Campaigns to see if you can squeeze a few more leads out of the same budget. For others it might be getting your blog published or a bigger commitment to your Twitter postings. But, there are many who have not progressed so far in your online marketing; you don’t have a blog, you tried Paid Search but did not like the results, or the last time you Tweeted was when you were snorkeling on that Caribbean vacation and you swam up next to a ten foot shark and you practically walked on water to get away….
If this sounds like you, rest assured, it is not too late to get up to speed with your Internet presence. Although you may not know how do to get started. What comes first? – What will work? – What do I do? – And all the other anxiety that arises when we are about to venture into areas that we do not completely understand. Just for these quandaries, here are my “Ten Easy Steps to Improving Company’s Website” that you can apply — and that will generate an increase in your company’s lead volume.
1. Target Audience – Identify who is your company trying to market to, what is their age, interests, income, position they hold within the company they are doing research for and any other characteristic that helps you identify the niche audience for your products or services. Once you know the demographic of who you are trying to get your website in front of, determine where that audience spends their time online. Are they using a search engine, reading blogs, reviewing industry specific websites, belong to groups using Facebook, LinkedIn or other social websites?
2. User Interface – Once you know your target audience, now is the time to create your website’s look and feel, also known as your website design. There are ways you can understand what your prospects expectations are by conducting User Interface (UI) Testing using a sample of your current or prospective clients that asks them to review a group of specifically designed web pages to see which web pages they found the easiest to navigate and aesthetically pleasing. From the UI testing results, select the concept that is the most favorable and make that the design style sheet for your website pages. This is a critical component as your website visitors will most likely not take action by visiting just one page of your website and therefore all pages should have a similar look and feel. Upon succeeding in engaging the audience, they are less likely to leave your website and more likely to take action if you’re offerings match their needs.
3. Web 2.0 Tool Set – After creating the necessary website design, it is essential that your website have the tool sets commonly referred to as “Web 2.0” tools. These tools usually start with the foundation of a Website Content Management System (CMS) that allows the company to update and change the website’s content and appearance. CMS systems are engineered to be compliant with the requirements of the Search Engines and provide enhanced capabilities such as managing Blogs, Videos, Podcasts and other content that will become very important in the evolution your website will experience.
4. Measurement and Analytics – The last step before you launch your new website is to include a program that can track the results of your websites traffic; where it is coming from, where it is visiting within your website, where it is exiting your website. Many companies use Google Analytics, a free software that is easy to install and easy to use to get such tracking in place. Once you have this in place, it is time to contact your web host and launch your new website. You will want to have your website host go through a checklist to make sure any pages your old website had that were indexed within the search engines are redirected to the new pages in your new website.
5. Search Engine Optimization – Wikipedia defines Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as “The process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a website from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. The earlier a site is presented in the search results, or the higher it “ranks,” the more searchers will visit that site.” The key to SEO is finding the correct keywords or phrases to optimize that will provide you the quality traffic. There are many tools and companies that can assist you with researching the correct keywords and setting up and managing your SEO strategy.
6. Press Release Optimization – Part of your website’s success will be the need to frequently update the content on your website. One easy way is to leverage the Web 2.0 Tool sets we spoke of in Step #3 is to publish Company News to your website in the form of a Press Release. This will help improve your SEO results as well as show visitors and search engines that you are updating your website copy and that things are happening at your firm. The copy for the press releases does not have to be earth shattering information that will make the front cover of Newsweek. It can be the hiring or promotion of an employee, industry or community recognition your company might have received, recent client wins, strategic partnership agreements, events you might be hosting or attending or other information that can be informative and provide credibility to visitors. I would suggest the frequency to be two to four times per month.
7. Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising – Almost every company can use Paid Search as a tool to help them cost effectively grow their business. Many have heard or have experienced exorbitant costs with PPC in the past and don’t believe it will work for their business. They key element to PPC is the understanding of what the correct keywords or phrases to buy clicks for are; clicks that will supply quality visitors to your website who are looking for your products or services. Not every visitor will, but, when you find the correct formula of what words to optimize, what web page to bring the visitor to, what price to pay, and can measure the results, you will see that there are cost effective keywords that are bringing you qualified leads or sales to your business. There are significant number of PPC tools and services to help you find that PPC can be one of the most cost effective, measurable marketing campaign’s in your company’s history.
8. eMail Marketing – Part of the success of your website is reaching back out to the visitors who have expressed an interest in your company. Your website should contain calls to action (CTA) that ask the visitor if they would like to subscribe to your company newsletter, news or events that take place at your company, or promotions that you may have from time to time. As you increase qualified visitors to your website, you will increase the number of people who want to hear more from you and email is the most cost effective and measurable way to do so. There are many email marketing platforms out there that allow you to select attractive templates to create your email, send it under the Can Spam Compliant laws, and measure who opened your email and what links within your email they clicked on. With that information, you can understand what interests your subscribers have and use it as a lead source for your sales team to follow up with your customers.
9. Social Media Deployment – In today’s business world, websites such as LinkedIn, You Tube, Facebook, Twitter and many other social network sites are a major source of visits from consumers looking to research a product, service or a company. Setting up the profile is easy, making sure you configure it and commit to it, so that you realize the best benefits takes some knowledge. When you approach this 9th step in yourweb task list, I would encourage you to read up on or hire someone with the knowledge on how to best set up your profiles – and your social strategy for the most reward back to your company.
10.Blog – Setting up your blog is not a very difficult task, and again, there are many tools out there to help you. A commonly used tool is WordPress. Like the social media deployment, setting up the blog is an easy task, but setting it up so it has the most benefit for your company does require some additional knowledge. Some important recommendations are to make sure your blog is incorporated as part of your domain. It is also important that you utilize some of the keywords from our SEO task inside your blog and you link those words back to your website pages that contain information on those keywords. Again, the information on how to “best blog” is available online as well as there are plenty of service companies that can help guide you. Lastly, there is a commitment to write the blogs and respond to the replies. One element about blogging is you have to have some thick skin as not everyone will agree with your postings. If you have a different opinion being shared, respond back, don’t hide, and continue a dialogue as long as it stays professional. The benefits are more people read it, more people come to your website, and more opportunities exist for you to educated people of your company’s offerings.
Don’t let this task list overwhelm you or seem as if it is too out of reach. This ten point sequence could take 90 days or 12 months to complete, it just depends what time commitments and resources that you have. How long it takes you is less important than just making – and keeping – the commitment to your web strategy. The last five tasks can be done in different order, but I would suggest the first five be done in the exact order above.