Let’s consider one of the vital foundation stones of a successful website – its purpose.
The key thing about understanding your website’s purpose is understanding who your customer is in the first place. (Yes, I know that bit sounds a bit dull and you’ve probably heard it a thousand times but there’s a reason why you have – because that answer is fundamental to your online success.)
When you know who your customer is you can marry your great products/services with people who are just desperate to buy them. (Put differently, there’s no point pitching a steak sandwich to a vegetarian.) Finding people who are desperate for your products or services isn’t that hard when you know who you are looking for. But if you don’t your marketing will be costly guesswork. You simply need to identify who they are and who they’re not.
Knowing who they aren’t can be as important. Just to give you an example, if you’re only interested in doing projects which are more £5,000 in value you could run a Google AdWords advert which said “[Insert Service Here] from only £5,000”. This instantly rules out all those prospects looking for cheaper versions of your service and means you’ll only get enquiries from people who have the budget you want.
So, just take a moment to profile both your customers and non-customers. You need to understand their demographics (their age, sex, job and so on) but you also need to know the psychographics (what they like, what makes them buy, what their values and interests are). These all contribute to a clearer understanding of your perfect customer and that gives you a clearer understanding of how to pitch your company to them. (A good place to start the profiling exercise is by analysing your existing customers.)
The great thing about going through this process is that once you know your ideal web customer you’ve probably defined your ideal real-world customer too.
Now you know who makes up your online market you can more sensibly define your website’s goals.
Having goals for your website should be a no-brainer. If you asked anyone who owns a website whether they should have some they will inevitably say “yes”, “of course” and “quite right”. Trouble is most people know they should have some but never get round to setting them.
Goals are much more than words on paper. They form the signposts to success. How would you know if your website was a success unless you’d set some goals for it? How would you know if it was failing? How would you know how much more work you had yet to do on it? Goals act like a speedometer measuring you how well you’re doing.
Success means different things to different people and so no two company’s goals would be the same. Here are a few simple goals you might want to consider:
- A certain number of visitors per month
- A financial target either as turnover or profit
- A specific number of sales
- A specific number of email addresses collected
- Or number of direct leads or enquiries or surveys completed
- A particular number of actions. For example, downloads, views of a video or podcast, clicks to a particular page
Don’t overload yourself with goals, pick 3-4 and make them achievable. Most importantly make sure that you goals have a clear timetable. Don’t fall into the trap of letting them be open-ended. Again, be realistic, you’re not going to double your visitors overnight but you can in a matter of months.
And last of all when you think about your website’s purpose please consider the experience you want to give your user. In the end you are offering your visitor an online experience of your company. What should that feel like if you were your visitor? Would you want them to come back again tomorrow? How long would you want them to stay on your website?
It’s strange to think of your website providing an experience but it is often the first impression people will have of your company and we all know how much first impressions count!
You can break this down into two simple steps. Firstly, think about the type of experience you want to give them: Do you want them to see how you work through case studies, do you want to give them free help and information, do you want them to sign up to your email marketing or listen to your podcasts or fill in the contact form.
And secondly, think about how you want them to feel once they’ve finished on your site: happy, relieved, excited, provoked, sympathetic?
Once you have a clearer idea of the experience you’re giving your visitor it’s surprising how easy not just the content but the style of your website falls into place.
Jed Wylie is the author of Make Your Website Sell and works for Morgan Wylie a web design and digital marketing agency in the Midlands. Follow Jed on Twitter @MorganWylieWeb