How to take full advantage of your website Featured

8:01pm EDT April 30, 2011
James L. Jay, president and CEO, TechPoint James L. Jay, president and CEO, TechPoint

Do you know which page of your website is visited most? The answer may surprise you. It’s also a good starting point for discussing informed content creation and customer engagement. Page visits are only the tip of the iceberg and one of the most elementary metrics for digital content effectiveness, but they are still useful information. The wealth of information generated by website analytics tools is astounding and this data should be the driving force of your content creation strategy.

A colleague of mine worked at a consumer electronics company that spent a great deal of time and money documenting the celebrities that used its products. Interviews, photos and other media were incorporated into the website and expectations were high that these celebrity endorsements would generate “buzz” that would have a positive impact on sales.

Nearly two years later, it was discovered that the most visited page on the site was still the specifications page for a popular product. In fact, the top 10 visited pages were product specifications and the celebrity-related pages appeared to have no measureable impact on website traffic, let alone sales.

While it was a costly mistake to continue with an ineffective program for as long as it did, the more egregious mistake was the company’s failure to understand its audience and what they wanted from the company via its website. The company eventually scrapped the “buzz” approach and directed resources into enhancing its product specification pages.

It’s not about you

Regardless of what you think you know about your customers and their behavior, the only way to know for sure is to collect and analyze data about them.

Whether you employ free website analytics from Google, Yahoo or others, or more advanced measurement software from highly-rated companies like Coremetrics, Omniture and Webtrends Inc., the actual behavior of your customers is the best way to know what they find most important. This information makes up the basic building blocks of your content creation strategy.

Today, even the simplest embed tools come with their own analytics. Indianapolis-based measured marketing service providers like Formstack LLC, Compendium, Delivra, ExactTarget and more offer vast quantities of actionable data. It is important make sure this data is put to good use as you develop content.

Make an effort

Popular Web-scraping or harvesting technologies allow companies to take relevant content from another website to display on their own pages. These relationships are often negotiated and reciprocal between multiple websites. A lot of companies utilize keyword-enabled news feeds from local or national news sources on topics relating to their businesses.

While these types of content filler are useful for keeping a company connected to the larger marketplace or having the latest headlines displayed, they don’t offer original thinking or insights that strengthen a company’s position as a leader in the field.

There simply is no substitute for thoughtful content designed to meet the search needs of your customers. In order to satisfy your customers, you will have to put in the time it takes to do it right — or hire content experts to help you do it right. Companies like Raidious and Professional Blog Service LLC in Indianapolis help dozens of high-profile brand names produce the kind of quality content that their customers are seeking.

Keep content fresh

Getting a customer to sign up to receive your newsletter is a good thing, but it’s only the beginning. Companies like Right On Interactive in Indianapolis have developed products that help you easily segment, schedule, trigger and deploy a series of communications to customers and prospects as they move through the customer life cycle.

This is why content is so important at each stage in the customers’ relationship with your company. If your customers lose interest in you because you fail to keep them engaged after you expended time and resources to draw them to you in the first place, then you may as well consider spending money on your own ill-fated celebrity “buzz” marketing campaign.

James L. Jay is president and CEO of TechPoint, Indiana’s technology industry and entrepreneurship growth initiative. He also serves as president and CEO of TechPoint Ventures, which has invested more than $16 million in early-stage capital in 12 Indiana-based technology companies through HALO Capital Group since 2009. An Indianapolis native, he has a successful track record as an entrepreneur, business leader and public servant.