What does it take to build a truly great website? It doesn't seem that complicated but I'm reminded every day that clearly very few people know. Or maybe they just don't understand how necessary it is to have a great site to compete in today's marketplace, I'm not sure.
The world is truly filled with crappy websites. It's hard to imagine what the person in charge was thinking when they actually paid money for what's out there. Many sites were just built with little or no strategy. They were built on a shoestring budget or are so old the technology is completely antiquated. Their sites take too long to load, look dated with poor styling, or completely fails to give visitors what they're looking for. One way or another, their site is crappy. If yours is too let's look at how you can make it better.
Step 1: You Have To Start With Strategy
- Understand humans, how they think, why they go to websites, and how they use them
- People don't visit your website to be impressed by your team or culture
- They visit because they're looking for help
- They want information, education, and advice on how to make a decision
- They want to better their life, not read about product features and benefits
Takeaway: Instead of bragging about your services, showcase what your services can achieve for your customers. That's a big first step.
Free Resource: Marketing Goals Template
Step 2: You Have To Understand Your Customers Better
- How do you speak to your audience when you don't know who they are?
- Develop accurate and in-depth personas to categorize and understand your potential customers
- You have to do this before you develop your website
- When you know their triggers, you can scratch their itch by giving them just what they want
Takeaway: The more you know about your consumers and how they make decisions, the better you can fit your solutions & messaging to their needs.
Step 3: Now You Can Build A Site Map & Wire Frame
- With your strategic foundation in place it's time to start building
- Don't just hire a web design company, map out your plan yourself
- If you know that people are coming to your website
- Help them find it, put solutions in the forefront
- Add conversion paths to take visitors on a journey
- Offer gifts to them at every turns (or clicks)
Takeaway: The best websites understand their visitors; providing them what they're looking for at every turn.
Step 4: Make Sure You Develop In The Right Language
- Choice is really hard, you may not know how to make a good decision
- Deciding how to build your website is often a product of who you choose
- Everyone has an opinion on what the best solution is
- Problem is, there answer is usually more like what they're more comfortable with
- Make your choice based on what you want your site to accomplish
- Not based on price or preference of others
Takeaway: For what it's worth I have a strong opinion. Our site simply does things that other sites cannot. It's responsive to every viewing device, it allows for personalized content, and it's so easy to optimize for search engines it's scary! For these reasons we believe in HubSpot's COS.
Free Resource: Marketing Grader
Step 5: Develop A Strategy For Nurturing
- Develop a SMART content strategy to keep return visitors engaged
- Create calls-to-action (CTA) to move your prospects through the sales cycle
- Implement automated work flows to drive leads back to your site with timely and strategic emails
- Setup lead scoring rules to help you qualify and prioritize your leads as they come in
Takeaway: There's no such thing as a bad lead. If someone wants to give you their information to get some of yours, there's value there. Find it, and figure out how you can capitalize on it.
Free Resource: Lead Nurturing Workbook
Step 6: Develop A Content Calendar
- If you want your website to be powerful it needs to stay fresh and continue to grow with new content
- Great content keeps search engines in mind too, make sure to target a sound keyword strategy
- Build a blog editorial calendar with topics, authors, keywords, and offers to promote
- Create a content calendar that creates funnels for all stages of the buyer's journey
- Awareness | Consideration | Decision
Takeaway: The key to a successful campaign is planning and discipline. Come up with a plan and execute it like crazy while you review performance metrics and make adjustments. If you don't have the time, hire someone that does!
Free Resource: Blog Editorial Calendar
Conclusion: You'll Get Out Of It, What You Put Into It
If you want to build a successful website you have to follow the steps. If you skip a step there will surely be consequences, of which there is a multitude of evidence on so many websites out there. Remember, all shortcuts lead to nowhere when it comes to web strategy and design. If you think you can just write a check and have the magic delivered you're wrong. You have to be involved because it's your intellectual property that needs to go into your site.
Final Tip: Sometimes slow is fast, so choose a good partner and start with the foundation before you design the roof.