Even the most beautiful novel, with an outstanding vocabulary, a great plot and unexpected twists will lose its gusto when it turns out that the main character is, at best, mediocre. Likewise, just as you cannot have an opinion without a subject, there is no good e-marketing strategy without one fundamental element. This is a properly prepared website. But what determines a website’s success in contributing to the overall strategy?
When considering an overall marketing and sales strategy, the basis of our activities should surround the correct functioning of the underlying website. Regardless of whether we are talking about a single page, a comprehensively stocked e-shop or a niche blog – the website must be designed and built to execute the specific requirements that are expected of it.
So how do you create a great website and what should you be taking into account to make sure that the site is well-prepared for any additional marketing activities?
In this article, I will present key 3 elements from a longer list of insights that should be taken into consideration when building a website.
#1 Website Optimisation
When we consider optimisation, we are actually describing two main variants. First of all, we are talking about preparing a website for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). In creating a website, it is important to provide a solid foundation for regular SEO activities that will be able to complement the site by providing enhanced brand visibility. However, it’s not just about search engines. It is also about the user. Meta-titles, meta-descriptions, page load speeds and responsiveness – these are elements that, when properly implemented on a site, guarantee the user comfort and ease in searching for specific information.
Although not all site elements have a strong and unambiguous impact on a page’s position in search engine results, some elements maintain importance by being able to be utilised to significantly facilitate a user’s experience with a website. Appropriate optimisation should enable an increased use of function for users from anywhere in the world.
For many, SEO is only about building the site’s position in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). In practice, however, SEO activities constitute a set of rules (especially those related to the optimisation of the site), that are designed to help the user navigate the site in a comfortable, transparent and error-free way. It is obvious that marketing activities (Facebook or AdWords) help to ensure a good first impression. However, it is also worth taking care to ensure that after a user has entered your website they will not be disappointed.
Being able to think from the user’s perspective should be treated with a value at least equal to the acquisition of organic site visits or the overall visibility of the website. It is worth remembering that a website is not only used to receive traffic from search engines but also plays a fundamental role in working alongside other communication channels. In this way, the site itself can be responsible for sales or other key business activities. Therefore, when optimising or designing a website, it is impossible to ignore the pivotal role played by User Experience Design (UX) specialists. The suitable design of the website’s structure will most certainly improve the quality of subsequent marketing campaigns.
To better understand the necessary priority of website optimisation, it’s best to think about how we, as users, engage with websites. We are often capricious and prone to being a little bit picky – if the website takes a long time to load we become frustrated and fastidious. Indeed, when using the internet we generally become very egocentric – nowadays, it is normal for us to have everything as fast and as exact as possible. We expect this as consumers and we therefore must also cope with such challenges as marketers.
#2 Digital Analytics
In a similar vein to website optimisation, we can also consider web analytics in two main variants. The first, very obviously, is the collection of knowledge about users, their preferences and what it is that they need most. Regardless of whether we use Google Analytics, surveys or other analytical tools, this should be (and is) a priority point. By understanding the overarching goal (e.g. a purchase), this information can be effectively used towards the betterment of any proceeding marketing activities.
Analytics is also beneficial for understanding and improving the website itself. For example, the improvement or slight corrections of call to action buttons can be effectively used to measure user activities. Sometimes, such subtle changes can even be enough to significantly improve the results of a sales campaign, which may – in turn – increase the overall profit generated through the website.
You may ask, does a user experience study negate the implementation of regular analytical activities? Surely an understanding of your customers through a UX study reduces the need for regular analytical processes?
The answer to this is very simple – shopping habits are constantly changing, as are consumer expectations. What was fashionable a year ago, today could be an irrelevant element on the site. Perhaps the functionality that we want to present over time will no longer be noticed or used by users at all. Perhaps even the products we display are not the ones that sell the best.
Nowadays, there is less and less opportunity for stagnation – if we stand still it will only take a moment for our competition to overtake us. With the use of a full package of services such as Hotjar, Google Optimize and Tableau, we can analyse the smallest details of navigating a website, gain pivotal insights from the large data-sets collected, verify them and then subsequently make key marketing decisions based upon them.
It is also worth remembering that web analytics can be used to verify the codes responsible for measuring the results of a campaign. The set of rules that underpin this process enable designers to group all of their marketing activities into platforms such as Google Analytics. This can then be used to verify the effectiveness of a given campaign at any given moment and decide on further steps to take.
Fundamentally, there are no good campaigns without proper analytics. Without data and feedback, all we are really relying on is potentially unreliable human intuition. In today’s world, unfortunately, intuition can be quickly rejected by well-researched data.
# 3 Brand Strategy
When preparing a brand strategy, many people pay attention to the core elements such as the target group, having a diversification of communication sources and the overall consistency of activities. All of this is, of course, important. However, in all this hustle and bustle, it is important not to forget about how the involvement of the website itself continues to be pivotal for most marketing activities.
A website might not just be used as another platform for promoting the already established marketing projects of a given company by exploiting a website’s appearance and usability tools. The website itself can also be another part of the entire communications process.
If you also work with content marketing activities, it is likely that you are publishing press releases regularly. To make the most of this activity, it is worth preparing a separate space for them to be expressed, i.e a content section on the website that is supported by appropriate SEO activities. Then content marketing too provides additional value to the company, in the form of increased traffic volume to the website.
The effects of a promotional campaign can be optimised in different ways – by exchanging banners, changing targeting, but also by introducing additional improvements to the website. When preparing for such promotional activities, it is important to try to analyse how users behave on your website. In this way, A/B tests may be of use. These tests enable you to make slight corrections and then test the preferred ways that users have of interacting with the element in question. This may include alterations to the product card structure or the preparation of a completely separate landing page.
If we publish information about a new product or a new service, it is worth considering whether the user on our site will find all the information they may require. Expert articles, FAQs, perhaps even an additional widget to chat with a specialist – these will greatly facilitate the user’s overall response to the site and may influence the potential of them making a purchase.
The idea of a Customer Journey is not only about leading the customer directly towards a purchase decision. This is something that should be covered by subsequent marketing activities. The primary activity should be about building trust for your product, your brand and the site – your site is your business card and it testifies to you the most.
I know from my own experience that website owners find it hard to look critically at their websites. It is easier to shift attention to the campaign and try to squeeze as much out of them as possible. Often, however, they forget that small changes on the site itself can affect conversions as well. Even subtle changes to the contact form may bring about much larger profits than an ill-conceived campaign with no strong foundation.
The three main points I have described above are the beginning of a short series in which I would like to describe how important a website is in today’s business activities. Although it is quite an obvious point to make (yes, the website is important), in practice it is often overlooked. Of course, changes on websites often turn out to be expensive and may even take a long time to implement. However, this is only the aftermath of certain decisions. Decisions that I will write about in the articles to come.