A “set it and forget it” belief is the fast-lane to failure in Web marketing. In fact, one of the most detrimental moves that many companies make is to build a website without understanding that the creation of the site is just the first step in an endless commitment.
“Recent statistics show that 80 percent of customers begin their buying research online, and to ensure that your product or service shows up for these potential customers, you need to take some basic actions to keep your website current and performing,” says Hourigan. “This includes frequent updates and publishing relevant content that showcases your company’s subject matter expertise.”
Smart Business spoke with Hourigan about what it takes to keep your Web strategy up to speed so it produces consistently positive results for your business.
What is the first step in an effective Web strategy?
You must start at your website. Basic requirements of being found at the top of the search results when people are looking for your product or service are the relevancy to the topic they are searching for and the freshness of the content. Websites that are built with the correct structure to support relevancy and the flexibility to allow fast changes are the essential core of a successful Web strategy.
My best advice on how to start is to build with the never-ending end in mind. Really understand what you want from your website before you design or develop it. What are your goals for your website? What do you want your website to do? Generate leads; be used as a research tool where prospects can learn more about you; serve as an interactive tool for your existing customers; recruit employees, etc.? Your website goal, or prioritized goals when there are more than one, are your guide. Make these the driving force and litmus test for all aesthetic and functionality considerations when creating your site.
How do I bring it all together?
Three things to be sure to have your website integrated with are:
- A content management system (CMS).
- Analytics (Google analytics is free and can serve this need well).
- Integration with your CRM for tracking leads through to sales.
These will help ensure that your website is built to be search engine optimization-friendly, and friendly to your Web marketing needs in general, which are a moving target. If it takes a Web programmer to add Web pages or affect a change to your website, then your Web marketing is nearly doomed before it begins. When you are forced to incur the time and expense of programming to achieve the ongoing needs of your Web marketing, you bog down your ability to quickly adjust to the dynamic nature of marketing. This costs not only time and money; it will cost you sales and competitive performance in your market. A CMS enables marketers to do your Web marketing. Analytics is a prerequisite to effective SEO and measurement. Integration to your CRM enables accurate tracking of the bottom line impact of your Web investment.
Having your core website solidly in place and able to meet the needs of ongoing change enables you to best utilize Web marketing tactics that achieve your goals.
How do I develop a winning ongoing Web strategy?
A Web strategy that continues to perform is an ongoing process of planning, executing, measuring and adjusting.
Planning your Web strategy is often the most intense and most crucial exercise. Again, your website goals are your litmus test for identifying, evaluating and selecting the tactics you will use, as well as how and when to measure their successes.
A great rule of thumb is to be readily able to answer:
- What goal you are furthering with a tactic.
- How it influences or causes this progress.
- What metric you are using to gauge it.
In addition to the core functionality and flexibility of your website that supports this iterative process, it is key to have talent on board that understands the balance and interdependencies of different Web marketing tactics. This allows you to best execute to achieve your goals.
When measuring your Web marketing performance, focus on metrics that are tied to achieving your goals. An example of this is to look at not just the number of leads a tactic generates, but also the cost per lead and the percentage that converts to proposals and sales. This perspective will keep you from getting lost in the metrics, which is easily done.
Regular analysis will guide the critical fine-tuning of your Web marketing mix. This is an ongoing effort, customized to your business and the evolving conditions of your marketplace. When done right, your Web strategy can be made of very different elements from one year to another, and for good reason. It needs to be a moving arrow locked onto your moving target.
Taking this disciplined approach to crafting your Web game plan is how the consistent best performers separate themselves from the competition.
A constant of the Internet world is change. Very often this is rapid change. Having your core and flexibility in synch puts you ahead of the game. From there, it is vital to put in place the processes and the people who are skilled and equipped to keep the strategic cycle of Web marketing in motion and delivering best results.
For a snapshot of Bayshore Solutions’ Web marketing methodology, visit www.BayshoreSolutions.com/method.
Kevin Hourigan is the president and CEO of Bayshore Solutions. Reach him at (877) 535-4578 or www.BayshoreSolutions.com.