Today, it’s no secret that the people you most want as customers are searching Google for solutions to the problems you solve. The opportunity to connect with these folks and turn them into buyers (and loyal fans) is tremendous. That’s the good news. Here’s the bad: Creating a powerful website marketing strategy can be tough.
What is a website marketing strategy?
A website marketing strategy, in its simplest form, is a forward-thinking plan to attract, engage and convert browsers into buyers.
Undeniably creating a strategy includes many moving parts, and much of what’s written about it is unclear or conflicting. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re in the right place. By the end of this article, you’ll have a good basic understanding of the process required to create a solid, business-growing website marketing strategy. One that attracts, engages and converts browsers into buyers.
Step 1: Know Yourself and Your Customer
What do you do that makes you stand out from others selling the same or similar things? In other words, why should people choose you? What do your customers want? Why do they want it? When they search the net for what you provide, what are they hoping to find? What do they want to avoid? Think deeply about this.
The answers to these and other questions about you and your market make it possible to plan and execute an effective website marketing strategy. Without this knowledge, whatever you do to create or improve your existing strategy may be wishful thinking. And your time is too precious for that.
If you’re unsure of how to answer the above, it can be extremely helpful to talk to an objective third party. One with a solid grasp of branding and the digital marketing space.
Step 2: Give Your Website a Good, Hard Look
Time to take off the rose-colored glasses. Think back to this morning when you were searching for this, that, or the other. When you clicked a link in the search results and landed on a page, surely you had an opinion. Did you know instantly that you’d come to the right place? Could you tell from what you saw, read, and felt that this page was worth your time and attention?
Did you want to stay and explore further? Was it easy to find your way around? Did you have a sense that whoever was behind the site could be trusted? When users visit your website, you want them to answer yes to all of the above. Getting to this coveted yes requires the right combination of words, images, and, most importantly, awareness (revisit Step 1).
If you’re not sure that your site sends the right message about you, consider hiring an expert to have a good look (conduct an audit). If they’re reputable, they’ll ask the right questions to determine what’s needed to make your website a magnet for your market. They’ll look at your site design, how you currently use color, how your content reads, the technology your site is built on, how your competitors stack up, and more.
Step 3: Impress Google with Your Style
Once you’ve completed Steps 1 and 2, you can leverage the awesome power of Google to bring traffic to your door. Traffic. Is there a more beautiful word? No, but only if it’s the right kind of traffic. As we say in the biz, targeted traffic.
Targeted traffic consists of those that are likely to want what you sell. And, if you serve local customers, it includes people located in the areas you serve. For example, let’s say you sell pest control services to homeowners in Atlanta. There’s a way to set things up so that Google can send you traffic from Atlanta instead of somewhere out of your service zone.
As passionate business owners and operators, we want steady streams of targeted traffic, a website that exudes credibility, and our users to experience the upliftment that comes from sensing that we’ll keep our promises (to keep their homes pest free, to bring them more clients, and so on). Fortunately, the elements that allow us to achieve the above are the very elements that impress Google. They include …
The Right Keywords
To clear up some general confusion, a keyword is typically a keyword phrase. Yes, pest control company Atlanta is a keyword. So is luxury vacation resort New Mexico. You want to put keywords in specific areas of your website to make both people and search engines say, “Ah, I’m in the right place!” That’s the short explanation. Search engine optimization (SEO) is important.
To keep it simple, SEO is the art and science of driving valuable traffic, also called organic or free traffic, to your website. 24/7. In SEO, keywords are the seeds from which thriving businesses grow. It’s the language searchers speak when looking for what you sell. This is why, when it comes to driving traffic, keywords are as essential as breathing.
This is what your traffic comes to see. The words, images, videos, happy-customer testimonials, in short, everything you put on your site to communicate why those who find you should run, not walk, into your open arms.
The list of content types is long. Articles, podcasts, videos, webinars, ebooks, and infographics make up a fraction of content possibilities. To resonate with your audience, content must address their needs thoughtfully (more on this later).
Optimization refers to activities, technical and non-technical, undertaken to make your website attractive to your audience and search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, Baidu if you target Chinese speakers, and so on). Put another way, the purpose of optimization is to make you both desirable and findable.
Imagine going through all the trouble to create a beautiful site with great, informative content. Then imagine Google and the other search engines not being able to find you when users search for what you offer. This is an important topic. Finding the right SEO Company to help you is critical. For now, just know that optimization is an essential part of a robust website marketing strategy.
The Right Links
Links help us to acquire the traffic we adore. But only when we understand their power. In other words, links have the power to build. But they also have the power to destroy. Simply put, some links are good at bringing us targeted traffic. Others not so good. Others still can be downright destructive.
In fact, too many of the wrong links can get us banned from Google and the other search engines. In a future article, I’ll take a deeper dive into the fascinating world of links. For today, just know that a powerful website marketing strategy depends on the right links.
Step 4: Create Content that People Love
In Step 3, I mentioned that your traffic is coming to see your content. This is where things get juicy. You see, the people who land on your site have hope in their hearts. They want you to win them over with high-quality content that’s easy to understand. Content that helps them find answers, solve problems and feel better.
To do this, you want to plan and create targeted (that word again) content. Here’s an example: Let’s say you’re a law firm based in Atlanta, and you work with a lot of startups. Let’s also say you know that an upcoming change in regulations will affect the startup community. This is the perfect opportunity for an article, podcast, and/or webinar designed to help your market navigate change. And … view you as the go-to source the next time they need legal help.
In addition to creating helpful, trust-building content, you’ll want to want to promote it. In other words, as great as your content may be, unless you broadcast its existence, your audience is unlikely to find it. One effective way to spread the word is to …
Step 5: Fall in Love with Social Media (but be picky!)
Contrary to what many believe, you don’t need to be on every social media network to benefit from social media marketing. You want to be active on the platform (s) where your market gathers/shares information. If you’re already using social media, consider if the return on investment is worth the effort you’re putting into it. For example, if you’re currently using social media to drive traffic to your site, find out what percentage of this traffic engages with your content, reaches out to you for more information, or takes some other desired action.
If the percentages are low, you may need to look at the quality and frequency of your social media messages. You may need to assess how well the expectations they set are fulfilled when users click from them to your website. Meaning, you want these folks to have a consistently good, confidence-raising experience. Because (the old adage) people buy from those they know, like, and trust.
Step 6: Embrace the Power of email
In spite of what you may hear periodically, email is far from dead. In fact, email remains a very effective tool for building rewarding customer relationships. Routinely, it’s one of the top channels for many sectors. That is, provided you approach it considerately, with your readers’ desires in mind. In other words, when you send emails you’re entering others’ personal space, so you want to be respectful.
To put email to work for you, you’ll want to grow a list of email subscribers. One way to do this is by offering something free and helpful in exchange for an email address. For example, if you sell real estate, you can offer a free guide that simplifies the process of buying property. You can follow this up with a series of useful emails that solve common problems.
To clarify, you might send an email about property inspection that links to a more in-depth article (on your blog) on the topic. When you link compelling emails to articles that are genuinely beneficial (no fluff) and easy to understand, you can be viewed as someone trustworthy. This can make it much easier for readers to choose you when it’s time to buy.
Not sure what to write about in your emails? Make a list of questions you often receive from customers—pre- and post-sale. Your top sales people can be a great source for this. Then, turn your answers into a steady supply of informative email content.
Step 7: Boost Traffic with Paid Ads
Why paid ads? As you may have heard, it can take several months of content creation and promotion to begin seeing results. Now, this is entirely worth the wait. Because, like compound interest, traffic generated by these methods grows exponentially. However, you may want faster results. Depending on factors like the average amount your customer spends with you, and what it costs you to acquire said customer, buying ads can pay off big time.
For example, with a platform like Google AdWords, it’s not unusual to see a return on investment of several hundred percent. In addition, if you’re new to a particular market, running paid ads can help you find out quickly which keywords bring you the most traffic. Think of this as a crash course in finding keywords that are worth your investment.
Further, if you hire a trusted agency to set up and manage your paid ads, they’ll keep a sharp eye on what’s working so that you can repeat it.
Creating a winning website marketing strategy begins with knowing yourself and your customer. This is an absolute must because it lays the foundation for each step that follows: revamping your website, optimizing it so that people are drawn to you and search engines can find you, creating content that your market loves, promoting it via social media, building your email subscriber list, and, if desired, boosting traffic with paid ads. Each step combines to create the exciting synergy that grows your business.
In the weeks and months to come, I’ll share more digital marketing tips and advice. Some of it will be bite-sized overviews like this one. Others will be deeper dives into single topics like social media marketing. If you found this article helpful, please check back, or join our list, to discover new content.