Guest post by Cassy Trussell, Senior Content & Media Manager at Web.com
A successful website should be much more than a digital brochure.
Many businesses miss the mark when it comes to their company’s website by including little more than pretty pictures and basic information describing their products and services. While the website might look good, it often falls short in its potential to promote the business because it’s lacking key marketing components.
Your website should function as a marketing machine for your business, attracting leads and converting them to customers.
Let’s explore the key marketing components you must add to your website to turn it into a growth tool for your business.
A successful website has cohesive branding.
Branding is a practice that makes your products, services, promotional materials and other elements of your business easily identifiable as belonging to your company. It’s what helps people distinguish you from your competition — whether it’s a logo, colors, the way you talk or write about your business or your company’s overall reputation in the marketplace.
As soon as visitors land on your site, they should recognize that it belongs to your company as a natural extension of your brand. Right away, they should feel confident they’ve arrived at the right place.
If discovering your website is their first encounter with your brand, the site should make a memorable impression and also clarify what you offer and what customers can expect from your company.
Most of all, your website’s branding should feel welcoming to your target customers and serve to build familiarity and trust.
A successful website is easy to use and navigate.
Never underestimate the importance of your website’s user experience (UX).
Start by making sure your design is mobile-first. Because nearly half of all web traffic comes from mobile users, you’ll want to make sure they can access and use your site on their mobile device with ease.
Next, ensuring your web visitors can effortlessly find their way around your site is one of the most important components of their experience.
All too often, companies attempt to make their website stand out by using what they consider clever page titles and fancy graphical elements. And while there’s nothing wrong with being creative, any lack of clarity leaves website visitors feeling lost and confused, rather than inspired to buy.
With your website, your job is to include the pages and sections visitors expect and make them easy to find, every time.
The best way to do this is to consider exactly what your website visitors need to know in order to do business with you. Aim to provide them with just enough information to make a decision about where to click or what to do next, without any confusion or distraction. Finally, keep your website’s navigation simple, clear and streamlined so visitors don’t feel overwhelmed or have to think too much. You want them to be able to find what they’re looking for in the least number of clicks.
A successful website includes a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of getting pages on your website to rank higher in search engines, such as Google. Search is typically how most people will discover your website online, so ranking higher with search engines is critical to increasing traffic to your website. Without implementing an SEO strategy, your website isn’t likely to be easily found via a Google search.
Search engine algorithms (the set of rules used to determine which pages show up in a search) include complex metrics for determining how pages rank. Improving your website’s rank involves leveraging SEO techniques, with both off-site marketing activities and on-site optimization.
Here are five specific ways to optimize your website for search engines:
- Keyword Research – Identifying what keywords your customers are searching for and strategically incorporating the terms into your website content and architecture.
- Content Marketing – Consistently updating and creating strong keyword-driven content, taking advantage of the fact that search engines place a premium on high-quality content.
- On-Page Optimization – Using techniques that improve the structure of the page, such as incorporating keywords into the URL and title tag and adding the alt attribute to image descriptions.
- Site Architecture Optimization – Making sure internal links within the website are using proper anchor text and linking to key content.
- Semantic Markup – Implementing proper use of a markup language, such as HTML tags, to convey information about the meaning of each element on the page.
Keep in mind that your overall SEO strategy should be content-driven, so it is important to add a component, such as a blog to your site, that enables you to update your content and add fresh material regularly. Consider working with a copywriter who understands how to write for SEO without alienating readers or getting penalized by search engines for tactics such as keyword stuffing.
Use a tool, such as a plug-in, to ensure you are including the basic on-page SEO elements throughout your site. Better yet, work with a website company that’s knowledgeable about SEO best practices and can implement them for you.
Successful websites incorporate thought leadership.
Thought leadership is a branding practice and content marketing method that establishes a company, executive or entrepreneur as an authority in an industry and solidifies their status as a go-to expert in a particular field.
Including thought leadership content, such as a blog, podcast or videos on your website will help to raise your profile and set you apart from the competition.
Ideally, your content shouldn’t be overly promotional, but instead seek to educate, inform and inspire your visitors. Don’t shy away from taking a stance and sharing your perspective as it’ll help your business stand out and get recognized. Good thought leadership content is helpful to your customers, gets shared on social media and even has the potential to go viral.
Successful websites prioritize lead generation.
Email marketing consistently outperforms other marketing channels, so it’s a must for your website. A 2018 study from Emma found that 59% of marketers say email marketing is their biggest source of ROI.
To take advantage of email marketing, your website needs to have one lead capture form to collect your visitors’ email addresses. To make this offer enticing, provide free, valuable content, such as a coupon code, free report or newsletter, so there’s a reason to share their email with you. To get people to sign up for your offer, feature the lead capture form prominently on your site. Consider including your form in key places, such as above the fold on your homepage or blog sidebar. And, remember, even if you consider pop-up forms annoying, they’re an effective way to capture emails on your site.
Keep in mind, the purpose of adding a lead capture form to your website isn’t to collect emails for the sake of collecting emails. You should be implementing a strategy to convert leads into customers by nurturing them through your marketing funnel. This can be done via a series of emails once someone signs up and by sending regular email newsletters.
Successful websites feature social proof prominently.
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon based on the idea that consumers tend to adapt their behavior according to what other people are doing. In the case of your website, your visitors are more likely to trust your company if they can relate to the people and brands that have already given you a stamp of approval in some way.
Here’s how to incorporate social proof into your website:
- Include customer testimonials, success stories and case studies to demonstrate to visitors that people like them are happy doing business with you. If appropriate, share customer logos, particularly if you’re a B2B company with brand name customers.
- Incorporate online reviews, such as Yelp, Google and Facebook. A 2018 report found that 78% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- Use your PR efforts to lend credibility to your company by using media logos on your website. By showcasing where you’ve been featured in recognizable news outlets you’ll elevate your brand’s credibility.
- Use “Wisdom of the Crowd” to inspire a fear of missing out. For example, if over 10,000 people get your free newsletter every week, it must have something that other visitors would be interested in.
- Boost your status in the eyes of your website visitors with Celebrity, Influencer or Expert endorsements, which provide a halo effect that you can use to your advantage.
A successful website values social media.
Social media has become a driving force in our culture and purchasing behavior, and your company’s website can benefit from taking this into consideration. An estimated 37% of consumers rely on social media to find inspiration for their purchases.
As a result, you need to make it easy for your website visitors to find and connect with you on social media. The goal should be to provide additional ways beyond your website for people to build a relationship with your brand. The truth is that when people visit your website, they may not be ready to buy from you right away, and social media offers a way for them to stay connected and gain trust in your company, as well as your products or services.
To encourage people to connect with your company on social media, include social media icons or links in an easy-to-find location on your website, such as the footer. Also, ensure your content can be easily shared by website visitors by embedding simple share buttons on your website pages and blog posts.
In some cases, you might want to consider embedding social media feeds, such as your latest Instagram posts, to bolster your social proof and keep your website content current and fresh.
A successful website makes it easy to find you.
Your website visitors should be able to locate exactly where to find you and how to reach you with ease. Don’t make them search for your contact information because chances are they’ll give up on searching. You can make it easy to contact you by including a prominent contact page on your site. This should be linked in your site’s primary navigation bar so visitors can find this information in a single click.
If you’re a local brick-and-mortar business, be sure to claim your Google My Business Profile and other local business listings, and incorporate each location into your website, including clickable Google Maps.
When consumers search for a local business, one of the primary factors they take into consideration when narrowing down their options is proximity to their location. Claiming your Google My Business profile — complete with your full and accurate business information—will enable your business to show up in Google Maps, and allow people to click through seamlessly to your website.
Successful websites have strong calls to action.
Throughout your website, it should be crystal clear what you want visitors to do on each page.
What action do you want people to take?
- Walk into your physical location.
- Buy something in your online store.
- Opt-in for a free download.
- Schedule a free consultation.
Whenever possible, include only one specific clear call to action on each page or section. It’s best to minimize confusion and provide a clear path for them to take.
Ensure each call to action stands out on your page by using high-contrast colors, persuasive text and eye-catching buttons. Remember, you want your calls to action to pop when people are skimming your site, so it’s important to differentiate these sections from other content.
Successful websites track data.
Understanding what’s really happening on your website can help you measure the success of your marketing programs and provide insights to guide future website and marketing decisions.
An easy way to get started with tracking data is to install Google Analytics on the back end of your website. This will enable you to monitor the traffic to your site, the behavior of your website visitors, demographic details, conversion rates and other useful information. Once this is set up, you can choose to have Google send you reports on your website’s performance at regular intervals.
Another consideration, especially if you may use Facebook or Instagram ads at some point, is to install what’s called the Facebook ads pixel on your site. Having this on your site will help track important information about your visitors which you can use if you run ads.
If you’ve ever visited a website and then had an ad pop up on Facebook or Instagram from the same company, that’s the pixel at work. For your business, the pixel gives you a way to follow-up with website visitors using advertising.
Turn your website into a marketing machine.
As you can see, there’s far more to a successful website than sharing pretty pictures and information about your products and services. Without incorporating each of the key marketing components we’ve explored, you are missing valuable opportunities to attract leads and convert them into customers.
Why settle for a fancy online brochure when you can have a powerful marketing machine working for your business around the clock?
Cassy is a writer, editor, and designer. As a Senior Content & Media Manager, she crafts creative content to support small businesses on the road to success. Cassy has collaborated on projects featured in Search Engine Journal, MarketingProfs, and Local Search Association. One of her favourite parts of the day is spending time with her dog, Derp. Find her on Twitter @CassyTrussell.