How Can I Make My Website a Better Marketing Vehicle?
Create a credo for your company that everything else flows from.
Marketing is about communicating who you are to the world. To make a strong statement, you need to start out by knowing who you are, in your bones, and be able to articulate that, to yourself most of all.
Take some quiet time and write down some thoughts. Don’t wordsmith it, just write a version in plain language for yourself. This is a credo, a manifesto–what you stand for and how you are different in the world. Don’t worry about using fancy words–fancy does not necessarily equal powerful. It needs to speak to you.
When you have this, ask yourself, “How can I demonstrate this in my website? How can I convey this to my visitors?” and brainstorm.
Consistently communicate and demonstrate your values.
Communicating is saying “We value customer service”, and providing testimonials or reports to back it up.
Demonstrating is actions–following up with people, being courteous, really listening, etc.
Both are important. If you are good at one, start working on the other. It’s not enough to just demonstrate it – communicating it helps people anchor in the experience and remember it. Telling a story that demonstrates your values is one of the most effective ways to build interest and is a great use for a blog.
Your website should communicate and demonstrate your unique selling points immediately and clearly. Definitely on the homepage—but keep in mind that people may enter your site through other pages too. Make sure you capture the essence of your company in a tagline or similar header text on every page.
Building a brand is all about consistency. This means the look and feel of your website should match your business cards, brochures, and letterhead. Have the same person write your brochure copy as your website so they have a consistent flavor and tone. If you can’t have the same person do both, make sure the person writing copy knows they are to match the existing style.
Beyond look and feel, make sure the character and vision of your company comes through in the website copy and visuals. It’s not about creating a corporate veneer of sameness–it’s about bringing your passion and values into every possible interaction someone can have with your business. That way every email they get, every call, every service or product builds on their happiness with your company.
Provide as much (well-organized) information as possible.
There’s no reason to skimp on a website–the more you flesh out your content the more your visitors will sense that you know what you are talking about. Expertise builds trust. Plus, search engines love content.
Make sure to present information in successive levels of complexity. Let people navigate into more and more information–don’t overwhelm them on the homepage.
Appeal to your niche—but don’t alienate others.
For small and micro-businesses, identifying and targeting a specific niche is key to being successful. However, you never know who will end up on your website, and you might discover a whole new market for your product or service that you hadn’t thought of. So when aiming for a target audience, make sure your site is still professional, user-friendly, and accessible for everyone.
Invest in professional design. Gorgeous photography, sharp error-free copy, and an easy-to-use website demonstrate that your company cares about quality.
Know what you want visitors to do and make it easy.
Do you want visitors to contact you? Fill out a form? Sign up for a newsletter? Make a purchase? Attend an event? Get clear on what your target actions are and make it very easy for people to complete them.
For instance, if you want your visitors to join your Facebook fan page, don’t hide a little icon in the corner of your header – make it big! And write some copy about all the fun that is going on over on the Facebook page (of course, make sure some fun is happening first).
The same goes for Add to Cart links. Make them obvious. You can’t make someone click on it, but you can make sure they don’t miss it!
Give your customers a low-key way to interact with you.
Blogs are great because someone can leave a comment and develop a relationship with your company that is low-intensity. Provide many ways for them to learn and interact with you: subscribe to your blog, download a free e-book, join your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter, or come to a free event.
Many people research and have repeat interactions before they are ready to buy. The more options you give them, the more trust you can build with them until they are ready to buy. These low-key interactions can also keep repeat customers in the loop and keep you in their minds.
Wanting to develop a clear marketing plan?
My printer-friendly worksheet Create a Marketing Plan takes you step by step through the major elements of a focused, effective marketing plan: what you sell, how it benefits your customer, who you are trying to sell to, and how you will reach them.