Is Your Website Working For You or Against You?
By Guest Blogger, Mary Catharine Grau, VP of Hospitality for Indy AMA
A client recently asked if we could walk through ways to expand their business without talking about the web. “We can’t,” was our honest response.
This company’s executives aren’t the only ones to pose a question like this. They, like so many others, are learning today’s marketing reality: your website can no longer be treated as an adjunct to your growth plan.
Times have changed, so should your website.
It’s no secret that times have changed. Expectations of an organization’s web presence have changed along with them. Most business owners know it was once adequate to have simply be on the web (think: online brochure).
In short order, though, web designers and programmers replaced static web pages with flash sites whose bells and whistles wowed us. Despite the dazzle of flash-driven sites, marketers discovered their digital presence didn’t do more than impress and talk at online visitors.
Today, your visitors want more. Give it to them.
Today, visitors want to engage with a site. A good site provides fresh content that is relevant to your visitors and the community of your collective audience. Well-performing websites regularly share content about the industry, its trends, and more. Well-performing websites establish partnership; they reinforce your thought leadership.
As a professional within a marketing and web development agency, I take a pretty hard line on the business value of a well-conceived website. I go so far as saying company owners should be grateful for the evolution of the web. The fast and furious online evolution means buyers now use the internet to forge relationships with you.
Your visitors want more than information, and they want it whenever and wherever they are from any device (computers, phones, iPads, and more).
Think insights instead of clicks.
As the digital marketing has evolved, so has the opportunity to understand your target audience and their website behavior. Your website presents an unheralded opportunity to create a true give-and-take with prospects and buyers. Gone is the day of pushing out information; today you have the chance to gather actionable insight with every visit, every download.
All of this means that the greater investment in the web is given to strategy and execution more than upfront cost. Not having a website was a problem fifteen years ago. Today, having a bad website causes bigger problems. It causes problems that ripple across your company.
Understand what success is — and is not.
Like my marketing peers, I tend to have a lot of conversations about websites, in particular what works and what doesn’t. No matter what, we end up sharing stories about what frustrates us most about leading a company’s online success. I’ve learned and seen firsthand what website success (and failure) looks like.
From my perspective, website failures typically fall into one (or more) of three categories:
That’s easy enough — if your website is not achieving the goals you set for it (you set website goals, right?), then it’s time to do something else.
I can’t tell you what the goals for your website should be; they need to align with your business goals and the role your website plays in driving them. More often than not, websites fall apart trying to reach goals around the following metrics:
- Lead Generation or Commerce Conversion
- Visitor Engagement
- Organic Search Rankings
- Visitor Loyalty
- Community Building
Your website may add to your credibility – or do the opposite. We’re old pros at navigating the Internet, and we expect that a professional company will have a website to match. And, isn’t that one of the great things about the web? You may have a presence that represents your company as much larger and more established than you, in fact, are. Of course, when they work against you, the first knocks are on website design.
Common design concerns we see are:
- Cumbersome mobile navigation
- Design that doesn’t stretch with the size of the computer screen
- A template design (that looks like everyone else’s site)
- Lack of calls-to-action throughout the site
- Too copy-heavy or too image-heavy
- Lack of social media or email newsletter integration
If you aren’t able to easily manage the content, imagery, even your site navigation, you need a new website. Sites that perform well and are designed to 2012 best practices, but can’t be managed by the owner will quickly become outdated. If you can’t manage your content, you won’t update it enough and your site will suffer. Period.
Now it’s time to ask: how’s your website? Is it working for you? Or against you?
My name is Mary Catharine Grau and I am the AMA!
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