You’ve got a beautiful website. You hired a professional designer, provided your mission statement, org chart and product brochures. The photos look great, and not a typo in site. It’s the perfect website for your company. Everything you need in one place. That’s very good.
Or is it?
Does your website provide a simple path to the content your most important visitors are seeking, or does it bury that content within a hierarchy that is only understood within your company? Worse yet, does it forego providing content critical to the success of your visitor in favor of content your company feels most critical to its success? Here are a few simple steps you can take to assure your new website is relevant, compelling and an effective part of your business strategy.
First, take a step back. Way back. Start by looking at your content from the perspective of your target audiences. The most successful websites start with clearly focused business objectives. if you can answer these questions accurately, you have all the information required to transform your website into a tool for successfully engaging your visitors:
- Who are your most important visitors?
- What are they looking for?
- Is that information easy to find?
- What do you want from them in return?
Identify your key audiences
I am always surprised how little the people charged with designing and maintaining a website know about their audience. If you’re not sure, don’t just guess. There are several easy ways to answer this question, and chances are, the answers you seek are within arms reach:
- If you don’t have Google analytics installed, shame on you. This tool is free from Google and with a little investment in your time, this will be one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal.
- Check your logs. Almost all Web servers are designed keep track basic information about those visiting your site and save that data in visitor logs. If your site is hosted by a hosting service, chances are they provide an easy way to access and analyze that data. These tools are similar, although less customizable than Google Analytics.
- Simply ask your constituents. Nothing beats good, old-fashioned conversation. And these days, you’ll probably stand out for making the simple effort of involving them in the process.
- At the end of the day, if you’re not sure, engage a professional. The small investment required will go a long way in helping you get the most value from the investment you are making in your new website.
What are they looking for and can they find it?
Are your visitors shopping? Do you have a deep product catalog? If so, chances provide an easy to use search function and allow them to browse your products and services by drilling down by category. If you’re not selling a product or service online, most visitors are likely seeking a broad overview of your organization, your phone number, contact information, directions to your office, and quite possibly, testimonials or reviews. Either way, don’t make your visitor work too hard. Be sure to know what information they want and keep it within easy reach.
What do you want from them in return?
Be reasonable with your expectations. The more requirements you place between your visitor and the content they are seeking, the less likely you will be in your effort to engage your visitor. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for an email address in exchange for something valuable like a white paper or coupon. Visitors are less likely to provide you with more personal information like an address or phone number.
Have a mailing list or newsletter? Consider limiting the requirements for subscribing to an email address, then follow-up with a optional request for more detailed information. Selling a product? Consider not requiring the purchaser to create an account before the sale. Instead, suggest the buyer optionally save their information only after the transaction is complete. Each are proven steps to improve engagement and sales opportunities with your visitors.
Simply put, the more you know about your visitors, and the more you directly address their needs, the more effective your website will be at achieving the goals and objectives you set for the site. Most importantly, you will have a happier, better informed customer, grow opportunities for engagement, and sell more of what you have to offer.