Looking at your circa 2000 website and considering an extreme make over? Or at least a 21st century update?
Take note: Today’s fast changing environment brings new requirements and strategic considerations for this undertaking that may have changed dramatically from your last encounter with digital marketing.
For the brave businesses about to embark on investing in a website redo, we offer 10 perceptions that we often encounter which are worth reconsideration.
1. You think it’s a one time event.
You know you’re in the business of _____________(fill in the blank). But, like it or not, now you’re in publishing too. That’s right, even you now have to address today’s new business demand to create engaging, relevant and useful content that your prospects and customers will find valuable.
Not interested? Never gonna do that? Well don’t bother with your new website because your competitors are going to meet this new online requirement. And as a result, they’ll position you by default as a less visible, harder to find resource that a prospect seeking your product or service may perceive as less qualified.
Why? Because you’re not adding value to your product or service that enables your prospects to see you as a trusted, transparent and continuous provider of content that helps them address their unique challenge or pain.
2. A website is a no brainer.
With an attitude and approach like that, your web site might never make it off the launch pad.
Why? Because you’ll get exactly what you pay for. And a DIY solution will not meet today’s requirements of integrating a robust Content Management System (CMS), a blog, social media channels, search engine optimization, valid HTML & CSS and responsive delivery to mobile devices. But hey, if you think anyone can build a website to address all of that, have at it.
3. I don’t have time to blog.
If you fail to integrate this essential component that enables the ability to add virtually any kind of content on demand with ease, you’re going to regret it. Who wants to talk to a designer or a web developer every time you want to make a content addition to share with your customers, prospects or community?
Without a doubt, a blog is the “have to have” component for a modern web site and a foundation for a content marketing platform. Leave this out and embrace obsolescence while you watch your website investment quickly become irrelevant because it’s dormant.
Google places a high value on web sites that are continually adding content for them to crawl so that they can serve up search results that are tagged with your keywords. And sites that have more well constructed and populated pages will almost always end up in a higher search results ranking that a website with only a few static pages that never change.
4. What’s social got to do with it?
More than ever, content today is meant to be shared, commented on and enhanced by others. So if you fail to integrate the ability to easily enable sharing, commenting and pass along to others, you will have passed over a giant opportunity that more and more of your competitors are taking advantage of every day.
Google and other search engines also look at content that is shared from your site and rank the importance of your site pages based on this sharing activity.
5. A few people might see my site on a phone.
Have you been to an airport or public place recently? Look around and let me know if virtually everyone isn’t looking at some sort of mobile digital device. Recent research shows that over 90% of those people are connected to the internet and looking at content the they are interested in.
So if you’re not planning and building your website to present your value to these people in a way that is optimized for their hand held device, you might want to reconsider that. Consider that the growth of mobile devices and access to the internet on them is the fastest growing way for people around the world to find and get the content they’re looking for. Bottom line, you better be there for people on the go and provide a web experience that meets their expectations and the limitations of their device.
6. Someone else will do most of the work.
Just hand this off to a resource and they’ll do all the heavy lifting and deliver a pretty site in a snap. Right?
Wrong. A quality website today has a much higher level of complexity than sites that were developed and deployed just a few years ago. Consider that your site should:
- Position your brand
- Express your unique value and brand voice
- Reflect and integrate your brand graphic identity
- Provide the ability to easily publish and integrate multiple forms of content including: text, images, video, presentations, music/sounds, graphics and more
- Provide the ability to be easily be found through internet search
- Integrate all of your social media channels
- Provide analytics on your visitors, content and site traffic referral sources and more
Expect active participation and effort on your behalf to get a web property that will deliver long term value for your organization.
7. I know what my competitors are up to.
If you haven’t done the necessary homework to assess the keywords that your competitors are using to promote their product or service, you’ll never be able to develop a credible strategy to improve your search results ranking. But that’s not important. Right?
Wrong. More than ever, people today start the purchasing process in the search box to find and evaluate products and services. According to a February 2012 Pew Internet survey, 91% of online adults use search engines to find the information they’re looking for online (up from 84% in June 2004). American’s conduct over 20 billion searches a month and rely on search as the #1 way to find content. (far exceeding news sources, friends, word-of-mouth or social media)
So without a keyword analysis and strategy, to guide the implementation of keywords in your site, you’re ensuring that people searching on the internet won’t be able to find your value. But chances are good they’ll find your competitor instead. And that’s not good.
8. Who needs a USP?
As a platform for sharing your value and solution with the world, your website should enable the ability to put any content, in any media, in front of anyone, virtually anywhere with a connection to the Internet. Unfortunately, you’re now competing with billions other sites and blogs for an online audience that is overwhelmed with choices, has limited attention and way too much to see and absorb.
Like never before, there is an essential requirement that a brand’s online presence and activities need to support a well crafted and differentiated brand positioning.
What’s that? A brand positioning should provide a clear understanding of the key features, benefits, target markets, key competitors, distribution channel, sales cycle, pricing and primary product differentiation of your solution. And it should be documented in a structured format that summarizes and simplifies your unique selling proposition—the value that you’re offering your customers and prospects.
If you don’t have this, you’re going to need it to develop a viable website. Because it will become the foundation of the content that will need to be created for the site. Think of it as a set of strategic guidelines and a metric for evaluating all of the content that you’ll include in your site.
9. My branding rocks.
Online sites like 99designs, Crowdspring and many others promote the idea that you can create a brand identity from the effort of thousands of providers who “play” in a contest by submitting “designs” to solve an organization’s branding and identity objectives. These sites guarantee lots of choices and they deliver. Unfortunately, you get what you pay for. And the work product rarely reflects the unique value of the brands participating in this questionable exercise.
Although many participant’s using these online services can’t discern the merits of one solution or another, they are very much invested in selecting a branding solution based on their personal preferences.
Remember, it’s better to trust your accounting to an accountant. And it’s better to trust your branding and how you present your solution to your audiences to someone qualified to develop, evaluate and bring a proven track record success to the table when developing a graphic identity for your brand. Their experience and guidance should help you understand if your branding solution is going to further your marketing objectives or inhibit them.
10. It just has to be pretty.
While it’s hard to believe, this is the number one reason many organizations attempt to redo their web site. Inbound Marketing software provider HubSpot recently published a report that indicates this objective almost always trumps success metrics like increased traffic, conversions or a decrease in visitor bounce rates.
So if decoration matters to you above all else, find the lowest cost designer and have at it. After more than a few rounds of “I don’t know what I want but I’ll know it when I see it”, you’ll be as frustrated as your designer. And it is virtually assured that your website will not get you to the place where you or your business needs to be.
Where to from here?
If it’s not obvious by now, the rules of marketing have changed forever.
Traditional marketing no longer works the way it used to because the consumer is now in complete control. Like never before, presenting your brand value in a well structured, creatively differentiated and professionally executed website is a much better way to engage with new prospects and existing customers.
To succeed today, every business must now meet many new requirements and higher online expectations than ever before.
So where are you?
Have you considered or recently completed a website upgrade, an extreme make over or at least a 21st century update? Please share your experience or thoughts on what was successful or what turned out to be different than what you expected.