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By Craig de Fasselle
When planning a new website, it’s understandable that many clients want to jump ahead to the “fun stuff” and brainstorm ideas for advanced features or look to other websites for ideas of digital bells and whistles. But features and graphics should not be your starting point—you should first list your goals and objectives for the site.
While increased website sales or traffic may seem to be obvious marketing goals, they are meaningless without assessing the objectives necessary to achieve results.
A website is not like the movie Field of Dreams notion of build it and they will come. It requires an effective, sustained marketing strategy beyond presenting a collection of products, services, images, videos or other files. The website design should be focused on specific goals, along with measurable objectives to attain them.
Marketing goals will differ depending on the nature of your business. For example, a primary goal for a business offering professional services to other businesses might be to generate more leads, while an art or photography site might focus on showcasing work in an attractive way or selling it online.
Where to Start
Regardless of your business, start by listing specific website goals and corresponding objectives that fit your overall marketing strategy and capabilities. Examples might include:
Goal: Increase sales.
Objectives: Search engine optimization, well-organized content, user-friendly site, effective calls to action, increase conversion rate.
Goal: Becoming an authoritative resource.
Objectives: Providing quality content on your website, regularly adding new information, establishing trust, marketing your site on other websites and social media.
Goal: Improve interaction with existing and potential customers.
Objectives: E-mail marketing lists, online support (live chat), webinars, and content designed to give your visitor a reason to come back.
Goal: Build your brand.
Objectives: Active social media program, promotions, reputation management.
The objectives shown above are examples, and not exclusive to the listed goals. While we mentioned “establishing trust” under “Becoming an authoritative source,” establishing trust is also a key issue to increasing sales.
The Overlooked Goal
In developing your website goals, it’s vital to consider your ideal visitor. Clients often fall back on “our buyers are diverse,” but a website aimed at everyone may attract no one. Your content needs to instantly appeal to your ideal visitors, convince them you are worthy of their time, and make it easy for them to take the next step.
For example, if you sell highly technical products to engineers, artsy slide shows or animations are not likely to succeed. The engineer will be more interested a bullet list of key features, educational content to help solve a problem, detailed specifications and/or dimensional drawings that can be downloaded, and an easy means to request a quote.
Your list of goals and objectives also need to match your organization’s capabilities. It’s easy to say “we should use social media,” but do you have the resources and staff to spend several hours a week on a creative, sustained social media campaign that engages followers? If the answer is no, consider other options such as a press release program, an opt-in email news list, white papers, a newsletter, or similar that better suit your personnel and ability to produce interesting content.
Part of the planning should be how to measure the success of your new website. Converting a first-time visitor into a customer is rare. You’ll need to establish a few objectives to measure whether or not your new strategies are successful, and start adjusting if they fall short.
You should benchmark where you’re starting from and once you implement your new site, measure the changes. We’ll provide specifics on measurable objectives and benchmarks in a post next month.
An attractive website is not enough to achieve your marketing goals. While your web designer can help you create an effective online presentation, you need to start by listing the strategic goals and objectives for your website. By establishing a realistic list of goals, measurable objectives, and always keeping your ideal visitor in mind, you’ll greatly increase your chances of online success.