Welcome to your New Website. Now What?
A website without a marketing strategy is like a book on a shelf — valuable, but virtually useless. Here’s how to make your website work for you.
Congrats! You are now the owner of a shiny new website. Or maybe you’ve just dropped big bucks on a redesign. Now what?
Lemme guess. You did either of those things because you felt like you needed to do… something. Something wasn’t working and you needed to try something different.
So you hired a designer and a developer (maybe the same person), and they built you a (presumably) great looking website.
It’s got big, beautiful photos, full-screen video, even does that supercool parallax thing you’ve seen everywhere.
And so it sits. Easy enough to get to. YourWebsite.com. It’s right there, folks.
But it’s getting zero traffic. Or pretty close to zero.
Doesn’t the old “if you build it, they will come” saying apply to the technological wonder we call the World Wide Web?
Nope. That’s baseball. Fictional baseball at that.
What You Should Be Doing (Instead of Twiddling Your Thumbs)
A website by itself is pretty useless. Millions of websites exist on the web just taking up space, like rundown abandoned shops along a lonesome strip of highway. A testament to someone’s good intentions and shattered dreams. A memorial to wasted time and money.
Now, those of you who have real-world physical businesses, I’m not really talking to you.
Unless you’re having trouble promoting that business. Then I’m totally talking to you.
Anyone who decides to build a website for commercial reasons needs to think beyond just having a site before spending the first penny on it. You need to think about how you’re going to promote it. There should be time and budget allocated for promotion and maintenance as well as development.
It’s like owning a car. Sure, you can afford the car payments, but if you can’t afford insurance and upkeep, you can’t afford the car. These are what we call “cost of ownership”. You must invest in your website the same way.
Maybe the investment is money, maybe it’s time. Usually, it’s both.
You Need a Digital Strategy that Reinforces Your Business Model
What is a digital strategy? It’s simply a plan for how you’ll market and maintain your investment. This should really be part of your initial planning, but it’s never too late to start thinking in this direction. It could keep you out of the website graveyard.
How are you going to drive traffic to your website? Well, content marketing is a great way to do that. So is word of mouth and handing out business cards, but it’s really small scale and unreliable. You need something that you can control and count on. Content marketing puts you in the driver’s seat. Here’s an article to help you get started.
You also need to think about what your website offers. This will determine how it makes money for you (i.e., its business model). Remember, if it doesn’t earn, it’s a hobby. And that’s cool too, but it’s not what this article is about.
- Does your site sell products? Think about how you’ll get those people to your site, but also how you will encourage sales once they get there. There are strategies that can boost your online sales through customer retention, upselling and other methods which should be built into your site’s design and functionality. What about follow up? Do you have a newsletter and a way to gain subscribers so they know about your latest offerings?
- Are you a service-based business? One of the best ways to get people to your site is by demonstrating expertise and authority. This helps build confidence in your services so potential buyers can “test drive” what it’s like to work with you. Informative articles and infographics can help you make your case. Then once they get there, how easy is it for them to become a targeted lead that you can follow up on? Can they refer you to their colleagues or friends? All of this is part of digital strategy.
At the very least, you should be using social media effectively to promote your site. That means more than just having a Facebook page and getting your friends to like it. Leveraging content marketing on social media is a major way to boost awareness beyond your personal ecosystem.
You should also plan for launch, or re-launch.
- Write and submit a press release to business publications in your sector.
- Let your real-world customers know about it. Send a mass email to current and past partners and clients.
- If you have the budget, have a launch party and let the media know about it, before and after the fact.
Keep in mind, it’s going to take time for Google to pick up your site and start ranking its pages in search results. And since long-established sites are given advantage in Google’s eyes, it can be an uphill climb to outrank your competition. Getting traffic flowing to your site requires proactive measures.
Don’t Be Another Digital Tombstone
One of the saddest things I’ve come across in my years as a website developer is clients who were super happy with the site I built for them, but became discouraged when it didn’t automatically deliver traffic. The site was built with SEO best practices, good keyword research and everything, but they didn’t plan for the real work of getting the word out. This is where the real investment happens.
A website project should be considered in three stages: Planning, Development and Promotion. Most people only think about the development stage, but without the other two, it’s like pouring money down the drain.
So, plan ahead. Even f you’ve already got a site that’s underperforming, it’s still not too late to get started.
Got questions about marketing your website? Want to know what else you could be doing? Reach out today and let’s talk.