So you want a new or updated website that provides a foundation for growth, clearly identifies your business and niches, is optimized for Google, is a 24/7 online sales portal, has relevant, interesting content, and attracts the right customers and projects?
It takes a team to satisfy all of these desires—a strategist to determine the goals, a project manager to keep you on track, a web developer to build a great website, and a writer to deliver stellar content and calls to action.
Web developers are the experts for website design and development. However, what they do only works if the website’s content supports your company’s brand and go-to market strategy. The final product should truly align with your business goals and marketing activities.
Even if they conduct a website strategy session, web developers will expect you to be prepared to discuss the look and feel, content and navigation, your target visitors, and how you want them to use the website. This is not an easy conversation if you haven’t agreed on your visual and competitive brand, your target audience, or your go-to-market strategy.
Skipping the strategy step is like skipping breakfast. You will default to a cheap and quick fix that fails to fill your pipeline.
For example, one of the biggest mistakes that companies make is only describing their services and their company history when developing a website. But referrals and prospective customers want to know how you will solve their problems. They want to know why your company is the best choice. Without a strategy session among your leadership—prior to the web developer session—it’s likely that you won’t get the right kind of web visitor, let alone a visitor who will call you.
Here are six reasons your website could be failing without a clear strategy:
1. You don’t have a foundation for growth
Your brand is the growth foundation for every internal and external communication. It is your reason for being in business. Your website must address key questions throughout the buying cycle. What problem can this company solve for me? Why are they the best choice? How will they add value? Are they worth the investment? Will I be glad or sorry I chose them? What are other people saying about them? How credible are they?
You need to know why your best customers choose you. Ask them. Use their responses as the key messages on your website. A web strategy session helps you think through your reasons for being in business and how to communicate that value quickly on your website.
2. The firm and niche reputation are unclear
A strong website supports your firm and niche reputation with content that explains to new audiences why you are the right choice. Your site reinforces that your firm is best for referrals. Think about how you would rate your firm and major niche visibility;or each niche, assess how well known you believe your firm is. This will help determine how many web pages are needed to elevate your position in the marketplace.
If your company is hurting for top talent, consider what those candidates want to know about your company when they visit your website. Can you communicate the same way to your entire audience, or will you need different careers pages to reach different types of recruits?
3. Your website isn’t optimized to be another salesperson
One of the benefits of having a website that “works” is being able to use it as a 24/7 lead generation tool. Think about your dead-end or non-qualified leads. How will you describe what your company is and what your company is (or is not) in a friendly, but clear way to decrease irrelevant inquiries? If you think everyone is your target audience, you may need to revisit your sales pipeline and measure wins and losses.
It’s important to consider how visitors will engage with your website. Do you have strong calls-to-action (CTAs) and solid work samples that make sense for your audience? Try adding well-written case studies highlighting your best results in each niche market. Outside of your website, what is the most successful way you are currently getting leads? Leverage that technique through your website by pointing leads to specific web pages that will convince them to choose you.
4. There’s not enough relevant content to make visitors return
Use your website to shorten the sales cycle. If your company has a long sales cycle, which is often the case for professional service firms, consider what resources could be added to your site to support those ongoing sales conversations. For example, visually engaging process graphs and relevant articles keep leads coming back to your website as a best practices resource. You can use those resources to stay in touch with leads and prospects.
5. There is not a strong sales process
What is your go-to-market strategy? If your sales process is based on what your consultants or sales team chooses to pursue, it’s not going to be consistent, let alone tied to website resources that can help shorten the sales cycle. Decide the best approach to drive leads and referrals into your pipeline. Then talk through the resources online that would be helpful to support those sales conversations and decision points in the buying cycle. Is there a demo you can offer or a free consulting session? How should that offer be represented on your website and how can you let prospects know about it?
Social networks and e-blasts can be great vehicles to drive traffic toward your website, and these campaigns can be scheduled and automated to support your sales team. But you must talk through the strategy before it can be incorporated into your website.
6. You’re attracting the wrong customers and projects
Your ‘A’ clients are customers you love and who make up the foundation of your business. Your website messaging should address their expectations, needs, and wants. But if you don’t really know who your best customers are, you can’t attract more of them.
Consider creating personas—a fictional representation of your ideal customer based on research and real data—to drive website messaging and resources. Once developed, personas can help you keep your audience in mind when writing new web content. Personas also help you articulate your audience to a web developer or outsourced marketing vendor as well as to new employees and your sales team.
When planned well, your website can be used as your online sales and networking tool. It will promote your great work, highlight your success, and bring in business.
Now that you understand the importance of targeting the correct audience through curated messaging, how do you maintain this consistency? Make sure to check out the
On-Demand Webinar: Website Content Consistency – Why It’s Important and How to Sustain It to learn more about creating a consistent message across all digital assets.
Dawn Wagenaar is the principal and a senior marketing consultant with Ingenuity Marketing Group in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is a former in-house director of marketing and the founder of several networking groups. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-690-3358. You can also learn “Six Ways to Strengthen Your Firm” by visiting the Ingenuity blog.