When most people think of digital marketing, they think of websites that are well-designed and optimized for search. So, when they have someone build a new website or update their old one, they have two basic concerns: that it looks good and that it has lots of key words for web crawlers to pick up. Good design and SEO—that’s about it then, right? But what’s going to make people want to find your site in the first place? And what are they going to do once they’re on it? The bottom line here is that without a good all-around digital marketing strategy your website is pretty much useless.
What Else Do You Need?
The internet has become the most important channel for businesses to reach potential customers. Let’s face it, no one watches the commercials anymore, and no one wants to stand around and listen to another sales pitch. There’s still something to be said for simply getting your business’s name out there for people to see. But when people want to buy something these days they start by going online to do some research. That’s why a sound digital marketing strategy is crucial. No matter how awesome your website looks, though, no matter how many key words are stuffed into it, if your web content doesn’t offer visitors any valuable information then you can count on them going elsewhere to find some.
So what goes into a more comprehensive web marketing strategy? And what role does your website play in it? Ultimately, the goal of your website is to increase your sales. You can think of your website as a salesperson who works 24/7. Just as you wouldn’t want your salespeople walking around carrying signs instead of talking, you don’t want your website to have nothing but a bunch of static text. Instead, you want your website to actively engage with visitors, to give them the information they’re looking for, and to encourage them make a purchase.
Your web marketing strategy should focus on three central areas:
Google relied on key words back in the day, but search algorithms are much more sophisticated now. They take into account things like how many other sites link to your content, how many people share your content, and what people do with your content. And the algorithms have ways to penalize sites that try to game the system by stuffing them full of key words or purchasing links from third-parties.
The best way to think of this is that the search engines are in the business of helping users find quality content, and they’re really good at what they do. So to get some attention from potential customers you’re just going to have to create some quality content for the search engines to find. Your website should either have a page for your blog or link to a blog hosted elsewhere. The idea is to post information about your industry: news, product reviews, explanations of standard practices, answers to basic questions, etc. You’ll still want to focus on key words, but you want them to be an honest reflection of the content you’re offering.
Blogging regularly (enough to keep up with your competitors) is just the beginning though. You can also create more in-depth materials like white papers and e-books. You can host webinars or in-person events. You can offer downloadable versions of archived webinars. You can make podcasts and videos. Remember, your potential customers are going to do lots of research before they decide what to buy and who to buy it from. By giving them plenty of helpful resources you establish trust, demonstrate your expertise, and strengthen your brand.
Once you’ve created some valuable content, the next question is how are your potential customers going to find it? Search engines are well and good, but you can’t rely on them for all your traffic. For one thing, you may want to attract more local traffic. For another, you’ll probably need some links and shares before you start to rank on search results pages. So how do you get over this initial hurdle? The first thing you’ll want to do is start building up a presence on the various social media networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
Always give site visitors the option of sharing your content on social sites or via email, and give everyone the option of signing up for email newsletters that include links to your most popular posts. You’ll have to spend some time learning what kinds of stuff to post on which outlets, and you’ll need to follow some rules to avoid having your stuff marked as spam. But if you concentrate on providing quality content and take the lead in sharing it you can get traffic off to a good start.
This is what it all comes down to. The whole reason you want to get more people to visit your site is so you can get more sales. And this is ultimately why a static website is useless (well, almost useless). If you get a million people to visit your site, even if they all think the design is totally spectacular, it doesn’t do you any good if none of them end up contacting you or making a purchase. The purpose of your website isn’t to impress visitors—it’s to convert visitors to leads, and convert leads into customers. Depending on what kind of business you have, you can do this a lot of different ways. The most basic method is to attract visitors to your site with quality content, like a blog post that answers a basic question about the products or services you offer.
On the blog, you can either post links to product pages or to more content. At the end of your post, for instance, you may have a call-to-action that allows visitors to click for more in-depth, premium content, like a white paper. Clicking on the CTA brings them to a landing page, where they provide a name and contact information in exchange for the white paper. They get the information they want; you get a sales lead. You can follow up with and nurture that lead, offering more content or a chance to ask questions directly. Eventually, as you keep generating and nurturing more and more leads, you’ll have many more opportunities to close sales.
Okay, so your website isn’t completely useless. At some point in the decision-making process, your prospects are almost certainly going to visit your site to get some basic information about who you are and what you’re about. Your website offers you an opportunity to convey your professionalism, your commitment to quality work, and your brand identity. You can also use your site to host your blog, or post links to your landing pages on it. But the simple fact is that to compete in today’s digital marketing arena you need a lot more than a good-looking website.
Author: Dennis Junk