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Online success starts with a website strategy

Coming off of 3 regional Online Revealed Educational exchanges in Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary – I have had many requests for specific action steps to get started with many of the concepts we discuss at these shows, and in our e-marketing workshops.  As we do presentations around implementing new media solutions like Blogs, Social Media marketing and beyond, I still maintain that a focus on the initial Web strategy is the first and most critical step to success online. 
Without an understanding about what you want your site visitors to do when they are on your site, who these people are, and why they landed on your website in the first place – I don’t see how any online marketing initiatives can be successful.
The first question you should ask yourself when launching a new website or re-developing a new one is “What do I want people to do on my site?”  It seems pretty basic, and really it is!  Once you truly know what your website’s purpose is within your organization (besides to act as an online brochure) – your strategy will roll out from there.
I have a client that sells a very high end product that she insists will not be purchased online – and I agree with her.  She still maintains that (and rightfully so) she needs to focus much of her marketing resources in developing a stronger web presence moving forward.  When I asked her what the purpose of her website was (which I ask every group and every client I work with), she hesitated and could not answer my question,  and I have yet to find anyone who could give me an immediate answer. 
After further prompting, my client explained that the website had to be truly reflective of the product visually, and should drive the right target market to call the sales agents directly instead of calling wholesalers or other suppliers of a similar product.  She was really not looking to simply take her nearest competitors traffic by being found in the search engines for broad terms as her product was very unique. 
In summary then – her website needs to visually tell the story of what her product offers (Creative development needs to be a focus) and it needs to drive clientele to call a sales person to book or hear more about the product. (Phone numbers and contact information readily available in key places to encourage an increase in calls to the sales agents).   I can also conclude that although because of the high price point, she does not have any direct competitors, but she needs to find the right keywords and phrases that her target audience would be searching for to find a product like hers. (Keyword research, content development around those keywords,  and search engine optimization best practices need to be deployed to ensure that her website can be found by her target audience).
From this point, a search engine strategy which includes developing groups of targeted keywords, and then content and meta data to reflect those keywords, and compelling creative with clear call to actions to call for more information will become a blueprint to success online. 
Answering these questions will not only allow you to understand where you should start in developing a successful online presence, but it will also help with understanding the kind of resources you will need to deploy to achieve results as you build or re-develop your website and online marketing plan.
The end goal for your website is driving your visitors to act whether it be to purchase your product, sign up to receive information, understand your product or service offering, or a call to your sales centre.
[tags]online marketing, seo, sem, website strategy, web marketing, online marketing plan, emarketing workshops, online marketing training, search engine marketing[/tags]

Comments ( 4 )
  • Idea Hatching » Marketing your website – the magic formula to success as defined by a couple of chicks [Internet search, marketing & measurement e-marketing blog] says:

    […] 1. A good product and a Plan of “attack” – a website strategy. 2. A visually pleasing and user friendly design – test test and test. 3. Good quality and relevant content to engage a customer and prompt them to act. 4. A basic understanding of SEO best practices (or an SEO consultant that understands that this is secondary to the above 3 points) 5. Simple site architecture (with Flash, sound and other forms of media embedded into the pages of the site and not directly on the home page) 6. An understanding of what your customers are looking for – and a call-to-action to give them what they want. 7. An Online Marketing Budget (if the website needs to generate traffic/revenue) 8. Want targeted traffic immediately?  You can always pay for it with pay per click or paid search marketing. 9. Commitment to continually providing relevant and new content that both your customers and the search engines will love. 10. Implementing and monitoring of  Google Analytics (or another web analytics tool) to measure the success of the website and tweak accordingly. […]

  • kev says:

    Great article. A succesful website is a powerful tool for any business and the key is knowing how to BUILD an optimized site to attract visitors, how to WRITE to sell effectively and turn your visitors into leads, and how to NETWORK your site on the web to maximize your website’s potential. I have written a blog with tips on how to make any website into a real success story. You can read my blog here: http://startasuccessfulbusinessonline.blogspot.com

  • Just Right Fitness says:

    Just found your site- really great!

  • Kersten Kloss says:

    It’s nice to see some Canadian activity regarding the very hot topic of web strategy. Hopefully more companies in Canada wake up to this new social networking medium.

    I see Website Architecture and Web Strategy as two completely different components that need to each other to create a successful web presence.

    Good Website Architecture, like classic architecture, needs a plan. It needs to have a design that fits the needs of it’s inhabitants (visitors) and it needs to have aesthetic appeal and finally, the right inhabitants. For all you techies out there, take a look at Peter Morville & Louis Rosenfeld’s book, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web. (It’s an Oreilly publication) This is a heavy read, but it offers good pointers for those that want to lead a website project on their own.

    A great short list of TO DO’s can be found on Seth Godin’s blog titled “Things to ask before you redo your website” I like this list a lot.

    Here is his list followed by the link to his blog:

    •What is the goal of the site?
    •In other words, when it’s working great, what specific outcomes will occur?
    •Who are we trying to please? If it’s the boss, what does she want? Is impressing a certain kind of person important? Which kind?
    •How many people on your team have to be involved? At what level?
    •Who are we trying to reach? Is it everyone? Our customers? A certain kind of prospect?
    •What are the sites that this group has demonstrated they enjoy interacting with?
    •Are we trying to close sales?
    •Are we telling a story?
    •Are we earning permission to follow up?
    •Are we hoping that people will watch or learn?
    •Do we need people to spread the word using various social media tools?
    •Are we building a tribe of people who will use the site to connect with each other?
    •Do people find the site via word of mouth? Are they looking to answer a specific question?
    •Is there ongoing news and updates that need to be presented to people?
    •Is the site part of a larger suite of places online where people can find out about us, or is this our one sign post?
    •Is that information high in bandwidth or just little bits of data?
    •Do we want people to call us?
    •How many times a month would we like people to come by? For how long?
    •Who needs to update this site? How often?
    •How often can we afford to overhaul this site?
    •Does showing up in the search engines matter? If so, for what terms? At what cost? Will we be willing to compromise any of the things above in order to achieve this goal?
    •Will the site need to be universally accessible? Do issues of disability or language or browser come into it?
    •How much money do we have to spend? How much time?
    And finally,
    •Does the organization understand that ‘everything’ is not an option?

    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/09/things-to-ask-before-you-redo-your-website.html

    I just finished a great book written by Seth on leading online communities, called Tribes. It’s a quick weekend read and I suggest any company decision maker that is interested in the new medium pick up a copy. It’s a paradigm shift to the way we all market ourselves, our ideas and our products or services online. It’s very basic psychology but also very Web 2.0! I got my copy at Indigo.

    Keep up the great topics. I will try to engage more in the future.

    Cheers!
    Kersten
    Business Consultant, Web Strategy
    Calgary Alberta Canada

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