What’s the primary purpose of your website?
Unfortunately, when reviewing most websites it’s hard to tell. So many websites are simply ‘electronic brochures’ that list the who, what and where of the business. In our opinion, no matter what industry you operate in, having a website that sells, one that generates a constant stream of enquiries from prospects is critical.
A website that generates traffic and customer leads can make a massive difference to your business success. Let me ask you these four questions about your website:
These ‘analytics’ are readily available and you need to monitor the performance of your website. Do you know how much new business your website has attracted in the last year? If the answer is negligible it’s time for a new website or at least a makeover. You also need to stop viewing your website as a cost and start thinking of it as an investment.
While businesses fail for a multitude of reasons, the most common ones cited are poor record keeping, inadequate cash flow and a lack of sales. Some of these reasons are really just symptoms and the real cause can be traced back to poor marketing. If your website lacks strategy, quality targeted content, a lead magnet, calls to action and some search engine optimization (SEO) tactics then your business will probably never reach its full profit potential.
Marketing Has Changed – Inbound vs Outbound
In the past decade there has been a fundamental shift in the way consumers make their purchasing decisions. The availability of free, high-quality information online has changed the way they buy and the internet has also changed the way businesses communicate with their customers.
Historically, we used ‘outbound’ marketing techniques to ‘buy’ the attention of customers. We interrupted consumers with cold-calls, persistent sales representatives, pamphlets, brochures, radio, TV advertisements, newspaper ads, billboards and telemarketing. Courtesy of the internet there has been a massive shift in marketing techniques. These outbound marketing methods have been replaced by ‘inbound’ marketing methods - marketing activities designed to bring visitors into your business as opposed to sales teams trying to get the attention of potential customers. Modern marketing now promotes your business through blogs, podcasts, videos, e-Books, e-newsletters, whitepapers, search engine optimization (SEO), social media channels and other forms of content marketing. These methods are designed to earn the attention of customers and draw customers to your website by producing relevant, interesting and targeted content.
In the online world, consumers hold the power. They can subscribe or unsubscribe from your newsletter, block a phone call and move on from your website with a simple click of a button. Today’s consumers will do extensive online research as part of the buying process. They read reviews, participate in forums, use social media channels to get feedback and download guides and product reports. In fact, a study from Fleishman-Hillard suggests that 89% of consumers use the internet to source information on products, services and businesses before they make their purchasing decision. Buyers want to gather as much information as possible before they have to speak to a sales person or make a purchase.
The term ‘inbound marketing’ is also associated with the concept of ‘permission marketing’ and inbound marketing has five stages including:
While the role of your website is to generate traffic and enquiries, the challenge is to convert these leads into sales and nurture the customers so they keep coming back. Marketing automation has replaced high-touch, repetitive manual processes and they trigger a series of pre-defined sequences and actions from the back end of your website. A carefully constructed website will pull traffic from your various sources of content and if you can then engage with your site visitors you can convert the visitors into leads. The next step is to nurture these leads and turn them into customers. That’s really just the beginning because a great website will then have automation processes in place to generate repeat business from those customers.
Your Website is Your Silent Salesperson
Your website is like the front door to your business and often the first touch point with a prospective client or customer. You only get one chance to make a good first impression and your prospects will pass judgment on your brand and business in seconds. It can make or break a business and your website remains the most relevant and important piece of marketing technology for business owners. While your sales people probably work a 35 hour week your website is working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks of the year. It is your silent sales person and needs to be more than just an electronic billboard.
Remember, you are competing with close to 1 billion other websites on the internet and in your industry you’re probably competing with businesses with much larger marketing budgets than yours. That might sound daunting but the internet is virtually a level playing field so you can compete and beat the major players in your industry. In some cases you’ll find the big players in your industry are complacent about their position in the market and they don’t measure and monitor the performance of their website. You might find they have a ‘set and forget’ attitude to websites and their content is stale so their website is ripe and rotting.
Website success doesn’t come easy and while the internet offers a ‘field of dreams’ in terms of potential leads, if you have a ‘build it and they will come’ attitude you will fail. Your website will always be a work in progress because the search engines like Google crave regular, fresh, original content including videos and blogs. It doesn’t matter how successful your website is right now, there is always scope for improvement. The great websites are simple, informative and consistent. They turn heads, catch the eye and are easy to navigate and understand.
Click HERE to download the full edition of The Business Accelerator Magazine for September 2016.