Online marketing has now overtaken offline marketing as the most important arena to invest in. This is levelling the playing field, so that businesses that are marketing smart can now compete with businesses that simply have more money to invest. There is huge potential for SMEs that are willing to market strategically. The enormous reach of the internet now allows you to tap into valuable markets that would otherwise be closed off. But to do this you need to lay the foundation for your online marketing strategy. Your website is the key.
Building a website with marketing in mind
Too many businesses approach their website with the technical details in mind, without having customer interaction at the forefront of their decision making. Every decision you make about your website, whether it’s the navigation, the font and colours, the shopping cart or the analytics, needs to be informed by your market research.
Website navigation is more than just a page menu and a search bar. Your navigation needs to be intuitive if you want visitors to stay on the site. This means structuring your information in a way that is obvious to your visitors, not necessarily obvious to you. Navigation doesn’t just take links into account, it also means thinking about copy and graphic design. Are your page headings obvious to your visitor or are they filled with business jargon? Have you placed your CTAs (call to actions) where they’re highly visible?
With the rise of mobile devices, simplicity is more important than ever. Check out major brands like Apple and Google, copy is minimal, design is sleek and every page element is clickable.
- Reduce the number of pages.
- Simplify your page headings and eliminate jargon.
- Put more CTAs above the fold.
- Make it mobile friendly!
Too many businesses design beautiful websites only to sit back scratching their heads wondering why they have no visitors. If you haven’t got an SEO marketing strategy then you haven’t really got a website. To really compete online you need to be making the front page of Google with keywords that are highly targeted to your market. That means doing your research to locate the keywords that will unlock your SEO. Google Adwords should be your first port of call when working out the keywords that will win you visitors. Once you’ve established that you need keyword rich copy and regular content updates.
- Do your keyword research.
- Keep SEO in mind when writing copy.
- Regularly update your website with fresh content.
- Integrate your website with social media (links, social buttons and social feeds).
Think of your website as the virtual shopfront of your business. The look and feel of your website will give the same kind of impression to your visitors as the signage and foyer of your office/shop. If your website is outdated, unattractive, cluttered or confusing it will reflect badly on your business. With the shortened attention span of online customers, your visitor won’t even stick around to read about your products but will click back to the search engine, or your competitor.
Consistency is the most important quality in branding. That means your online brand must be consistent with your offline brand, with the same colours, font and layout style.
- Be consistent both online and offline.
- Good design should make for intuitive navigation.
- Highlight the important bits.
- Make your CTAs pop (contrasting colours, above the fold).
#4 Call to action
The call to action is the key thing you must have in mind when designing a website to use as a marketing platform. It’s one thing to get leads reading about your business but the end-goal is to get them to take action. That means taking one step closer to becoming a customer. For e-commerce sites this could mean actually purchasing from you, for other businesses it could mean booking a demonstration, emailing a salesperson, downloading an ebook or filling in a form.
Whatever the action is that you want your visitor to take, you need to have this in mind for every page. For instance, if you have resources on offer that could be downloaded you should ask visitors to leave an email address.
- Make CTAs highly visible.
- Capture contact details (e.g. email address)
- Use urgent language.
- Design with contrasting colours.