One helpful approach for considering your website and the roles you want it to perform is to think of it as an employee. What job title would you give it? What tasks or duties would you want it to undertake?
If your business centres on an online shop, for instance, then your website’s job title might be Online Sales Manager. Duties that you might expect your Online Sales Manager to perform could be to create new and repeat sales and successfully manage the customer journey from the arrival at your online shop through to the point of purchase, the taking of payment and beyond with, perhaps, the goal to turn all new sales into repeat business. If you provide a service, like offering beauty treatments or financial services, for example, then perhaps your website is your Business Development Manager and its role is to attract fresh business leads and develop existing ones for the growth of the bottom line.
As a next step, you could then give your website an appraisal and evaluate its performance. Would your website deserve a pay rise if it was an employee – is it delivering? If the answer is less than positive, then it’s important to use the evaluation process to help you work out where improvements could be made. Perhaps you need to support your virtual employee further to help it achieve better results.
Common pitfalls that hinder many a website’s performance include:
Out of date content
While it can be challenging to constantly update your website with fresh content, news or images, it is off-putting for prospective customers to see an online presence that looks jaded and uncared for. What impression might it give them about your business, your values, your brand and your offerings?
Confusing structure or content
Visitors to websites have extremely little patience – if they can’t instantly and easily access the information or product they are searching for, they will quickly move on, meaning that a valuable sale or potential lead is lost. Test your website on this basis – ask a friend who has never used it to visit it and take the journey that a genuine customer might take. Their feedback might illuminate some pitfalls that need to be remedied. Is your website intuitive in terms of information architecture i.e. are products or information well structured and simple to find? Is the style and tone of the content suitable, appealing and consistent with your brand, is it well written and easy to understand? Encourage your friend to give you as much feedback as possible. You could even ask them to complete a questionnaire afterwards. If you want to gain less anecdotal and more on-going and comprehensive customer feedback – valuable for both your business and your customers – then you could consider employing a ratings and review system. There are a number of options: you could set up a (free) Google My Business profile, or you could join a local review site, like Thompson Local, or an independent review service like FeeFo. While on the subject of reviews, remember that if you have a particularly active Facebook page then you could benefit from adding a review facility (for free) on there too. There are plenty of options, it’s just a case of working out what’s most appropriate and relevant to your organisation and budget.
Lack of responsiveness
Even if your content and information architecture is second to none and you have some amazing reviews, if your website is not fully responsive i.e. all pages are mobile and tablet friendly, then your business is missing out and your website is not fulfilling its potential. This is owing to the fact that Google has rolled out “an update to mobile search results that increases the effect of the ranking signal to help our users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly”. The end result is that if your website is not delivering mobile friendly pages then it might well be ranked lower on Google searches than those website that are. If you have no idea if your website is responsive or not then a great place to start is to take Google’s mobile friendly test, which takes literally a minute or so…
Ignoring (digital) marketing, advertising and PR
So, even if you’ve got a super-duper, fully responsive, regularly updated, user-friendly, well reviewed website, you still need to support it with appropriate digital marketing tools in order for it to be able to perform as well as possible. As many Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) features should be in-built to your website and having a comprehensive and up-to-date profile on Google is recommended too, particularly for small, local businesses. Being proactive on social media – Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram and so on – is also advisable although be careful as you can end up expending a lot of time, which is fine but only if, (a) you enjoy doing it, and, (b) the results you are achieving match the time (and therefore money) you’re expending. Much online advertising is actually more affordable than one might think – Facebook and Twitter advertising campaigns can be set up on a very modest budget – and Pay Per Click (PPC) propositions, like Google Adwords, are also attractive as they are tangible as you can see exactly how many clicks to your website your campaign has garnered. Activities like building up a subscriber-based emailing campaign can be effective too. The website can be further supported by more traditional forms of advertising – in newspapers, magazines or on parking tickets and buses or via broadcast media (radio advertising might be more affordable than you realise). Traditional and digital Public Relations (PR) campaigns can also create interest in your website. If you take the time, you may find that there are relevant listing sites that are happy to include a free listing about your offering to serve their purpose of providing users with a comprehensive guide – this might be particularly pertinent if your business offers events and activities. So, overall, leave no stone unturned and never just assume that something doesn’t work or is too expensive, you’d be surprised to learn what you can achieve even on a meagre budget.
If you’re keen to discuss any of the above further or you feel your business could benefit from a fresh perspective relating to your website or marketing activities then do feel welcome to get in touch. We’re always happy to chat and you’re absolutely not obliged to do any more than that if you wish!
The Loud Ladybird creative team delivers a comprehensive and integrated approach – bringing together a copywriting service, photography service, graphic design service, website design service, public relations (or media relations) and marketing services – in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk and beyond. To learn more, feel welcome to make contact.