Spring has sprung, and the ice has (almost) melted from the Great Lakes. Time to dust the cobwebs off your hibernating Web presence and bring it back to life. There's plenty to think about, so here's a checklist we use to help our customers get their Website Spring Cleaning done each year.
One thing you can count on is that things have changed since last year. Take a look around your industry and competition. What are the new trends, and who's pushing the envelope in your business this year? Now take a look at your branding and messaging.
If you answered "no" to any of these questions, get your team together and hash out a prioritized plan for updating them. There are many ways your customers can find you, but if any of them appear to be last year's news, you're going to have a problem signing up new customers and keeping them loyal.
It's a simple test. Just pull up your website on your smartphone. If you can easily read it without zooming and panning, you're well on your way to a responsive site. If not, Houston, we have a problem. The issue is the rapid migration from desktop browsing and searching to mobile platforms. It's about a 50/50 proposition right now, but can you afford to lose 50 percent of your traffic and leads? Here's what our web designers and developers have to say about responsive design and website trends this year.
We used to talk about the website "user experience" in terms of navigation, simplicity, messaging and desired action. Now we're talking about customized experiences, including content and context, for each individual visitor and each distinct visit. Once we know something about a lead as he or she explores our website and converts on valuable offers, we can make each subsequent visit even more relevant and valuable. This is done through personalized content based on buyer personas and mapping the buyer journey. The old one-size-fits-all approach to website content is being transformed to this new model rapidly. Will you surrender this new territory to your competitors?
Still trying to optimize your website pages and blogs for high-volume, short-tail keywords? Still trying to rank No. 1 on Google using tactics like keyword stuffing and link exchanges? Have you noticed a significant drop-off in organic search traffic lately? You're probably in desperate need of an SEO overhaul because everything has changed in the past two years.
Google's latest Hummingbird algorithm now rewards websites that are the best match for the intent and context of searcher queries, and Panda and Penguin impose stiff penalties on websites that try to game the system with black-hat SEO tactics. If you haven't jumped on these changes recently, you're probably nowhere to be found on Google.
Websites serve many purposes, but none is more important than getting new business in the door. Are you embracing inbound marketing best practices like high visibility calls-to-action that drive conversions for high-value content marketing offers? Are you testing calls-to-action and landing pages to find the best conversion rates? What about the leads themselves? Have you taken a good look at buyer personas, and does your Sales Team agree with your conclusions? Have you designed your lead generation program to attract these personas with content that answers their questions and helps them find solutions to their problems? What about demand generation campaigns to attract these qualified leads? Are you budgeting enough to create and execute those programs? Last but not least, have you implemented marketing automation to capture sales and marketing data and make sense out of it?
Gone are the days of static websites that promoted your brand but did little else. The reality today is that everyone is doing their due diligence before they purchase from you or your competitors. Branding and product-centric messaging aren't enough these days. Buyers are looking for specific answers to their questions in real-time. They want to know what you're thinking about right now and what it would be like to work with you or use your products.
You can't meet these demands by broadcasting yesterday's news. You can't serve buyer needs from an anonymous service overseas or a bunch of robots with marketing scripts. Now you need real, bonafide thought leadership in the form of regular blog posts, social media updates, ebooks, webinars, videos, speaking engagements and panel discussions. You need to extend your website into the real world and actively engage your audience. This takes commitment and effort, and it starts with you.
Otherwise, your house will become a place that nobody wants to visit.
Photo credit: Liz Lawley