How to convert your website into a sales and marketing machine
We've all heard, rather endlessly, about Web 2.0, but very few of us—even those of us in the business—are able to explain in simple terms what that means. Even fewer of us comprehend what the implications of Web 2.0 are.
For business owners, entrepreneurs and website and marketing managers our world has changed. Dynamic web applications and highly-technical users mean the days of simple HTML design and simple blogging for consumers are long gone; our users expect—and demand—a more magical online experience, full of subtle nuances and technological flavors instead of direct, in-your-face marketing. This is a fantastical idea yes, and so is riding unicorns and dragons to work—but where would you park 'em?
By taking a practical look at SMB websites in the days of Web 2.0 will give you a step-by-step action plan to aid you in preparing yourself for the ever-evolving, fickle customer and Web 2.0 ripple effect. The challenges with Web 2.0 are more challenging than simply providing an interesting web experience to build the much-needed vendor/buyer relationship, it also means more effectively addressing your target audience (who have a higher bounce rate than ever thanks to shortening attention spans—down to 2 to 3 seconds at the moment); all the while improving workflow, lowering costs, increasing efficiency, and lowering service and support calls.
Simply put, to make an impact with your web efforts in today's internet climate you need to make one hell of a first impression, and you have seconds to do it. Remember, your website is your 24/7 sales and marketing tool, it is your new digital, indexable business card and it needs to address a specific target audience (stay at home moms, law firm CIO, pig farmers in Massachusetts, etc.). On top of first impressions, many visitors evaluating your website are doing it as a competitive comparison, and if you are lucky enough to make their shortlist and they engage you, then the battle has only just begun; from there you need high functionality and at-their-fingertip information.
To address all these growing needs we need to look carefully at the new vendor/buyer relationship that has emerged; most specifically at what a Buyer 2.0 is and what Website 2.0s must have to survive in today's educated climate.
But first, let's take a look at the challenges facing internet marketers when it comes to revving up for 2.0...
The web revolution has brought with it new challenges for SMB business owners. Trying to address a new type of world and customer while dealing with the usual small business issues such as staff turnover, declining margins, limited marketing resources, limited visibility on marketing ROI, the high quantity of low-quality leads and the low quantity high-quality leads, commoditization, awareness and customer adoption along a handful of other challenges make our jobs just that much harder. What that means is that we need to be better; at every aspect of our jobs.
Just as the web has upgraded, so have its users. Web users, and buyers, are no longer the naive surfers they once were; they now require a more subtle and advanced courtship. Buyers 2.0 are:
- More knowledgeable than ever before, on marketing and sales techniques, online buying behavior, web technologies and even conversion cycles.
- Highly demanding. They want apps, mobile site versions, HTML5, social media marketing, security and cloud services—just to name a few.
- Constrained with time. They need to be able to find things easily and immediately. Compounding their time constraints is their shortened attention spans. What are you talking about short attention...oh look something shiny.
- Well-researched and well-informed. Buyer 2.0s do extensive research before engaging with a vendor/website, by reading online reviews, blogs, doing their own competitive analysis and monitor social media marketing campaigns. According to Gartner, “70% of consumers perform online searches before buying products and services”
Your customers have changed.
Read on to find out how you need to change with them.
Your website needs to change along with your customers, lest you be left behind. Websites in the 2.0 era are smart, agile and like new model Mercedes—technologically enhanced. To get ahead of the pack you need cutting-edge technology on the vanguard of web design. To merely keep up with the Joneses you need the bare minimum of the six must-haves below:
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
You can have the greatest website on the planet but it's not going to matter if nobody can find it. SEO uses vital techniques that get your website listed on Google, like inbound and outbound linking, long- and short-tail keyword use, image and video optimization, and much more. Without it, the only people that will see your webpages are those who randomly type in your URL. SEO fundamentals are simple, your rank is determined by content and trust. Content consists of: keywords, page titles, meta descriptions, page URLs, heading tags, page content, calls to action, internal links, meta keywords and images. And trust? Like in life, trust is earned.
2. A Titillating Landing Page
Everybody loves a little titillation. Your landing page is literally your only chance with most browsers. If it rocks, your browsers will browse on; if it sucks your users will go to your competitor's more awe-inspiring page.
3. Exciting—and Engaging—Content
It has been said that content is king for 2012, but that credo should be eternal. Content is always king and always critical. Your SEO efforts, fancy website technology and killer landing page are all useless without interesting content that will get people's attention and keeping it long enough for them to click through your call-to-action buttons. To create content that will keep people reading you need to focus on your customers' needs, identify and cater to your target audience, identify behavior in the early stages of the buying process, use carefully-targeted keywords in your content, and develop a messaging strategy.
4. Killer Call-To-Action (CTA)
Buttons While you have your browsers mesmerized with your exciting content you need to strike while the iron is hot with attention-grabbing calls to action. Call-to-action buttons are tough though and require tons of research, on an on-going basis because the best ones become over-used and stale quite quickly.
Blog it like you own it. Companies that blog warrant 55% more website visitors, 97% more inbound links, and 430% more indexed pages by Google (think: SEO) according to recent research. Blogging works because it adds lots of indexable content to your SEO effort while offering your browsers engaging content that is fresh and up-to-date.
6. Social Media Market It
Social media marketing needs no introduction. It is powerful and crucial in today's marketing economy. To put this in perspective, 43% of all online consumers are social media fans and/or followers. What this shows us is that social media interactions are growing and have value. Another major benefit of social media marketing is the analytics, reporting and KPIs that come from it, which you can use to tell what pages your visitors are viewing, where your website visitors are coming from and which websites are referring you the most traffic.
Websites and website marketing are evolving into complex industries, hence why so many companies are popping up to fill the education deficit that is occurring between vendors and buyers.