In the modern digital era, it’s no secret that the landscape of marketing has shifted. Twenty years ago, we may have never been able to predict that a successful business doesn’t even need to have a physical location to market their business.
In fact, businesses today don’t even need assets to make a killing in the market. Just look at companies like Uber— they don’t own any cars, and they’re the most competitive taxi company in the world. Or look at Airbnb: they don’t own any property, but they’re making a huge dent in the hospitality industry.
What these companies do have is an excellent online presence, with some of the best and most useful websites in 2017. These online platforms are so well done that they market themselves.
So how do you replicate the efforts of these successful companies and create your stellar website with an ability to market your business for you?
There are four crucial steps you need to take to set your website up for digital marketing success.
1. Use Open Source Web Development
Creating a website that works for you all starts at the technical level. And in this day and age, there’s little more important about a website than its user-friendliness. You can sell the coolest product in the world, but if your website is confusing or tedious to use, your site will be doing you a huge disservice.
So let’s back up a bit and explain what open source web development is for those of you who aren’t as literate in tech language.
There’s closed source development and open source development. The code that composes closed source software is only accessible by authorized private users. The rights to change or add to that code is exclusive.
Open source, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. The code of open source software is available and accessible to anyone to view and change. In other words, any developer in the world can contribute to the code. As a result, open source software tends to evolve much quicker than closed source.
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So why should you, as someone trying to create a website that works for you, care about using open source software over closed source?
Because the benefit of using software or creating your website on a platform using open source code means that your website will constantly be improving.
Developers who contribute to open source code are users, so they are keenly aware of user experience on a given platform. You can trust that with open source software if something can be improved, it will be.
When closed source software needs improvement, it can take a long time for the code to be tweaked. With a much smaller number of developers having access to the code, there’s less opportunity for changes to be made.
Open source web development is very much for the people, by the people. And if you want a website that markets your business, you need to be using a platform that’s considerate of one thing first and foremost: people.
For more information on why to use open source technology as well as some open source resources you can use for your website, check this out “Open Source Technology: Why and How to Use It”
2. Make Your Website an Extension of Your Brand
Having a website that works for you and intentionally markets to your target audience means getting creative. Websites aren’t just a home page, about page, and contact page anymore. (If this sounds like your site, pay attention. This section is for you.)
You don’t need a physical location anymore to be a successful business, but if you don’t have a physical location (even if you do) you need to have a substantial digital presence. If you haven’t already, you need to start thinking of your website as a digital storefront.
Consider your behaviors online: when you discover a brand, do you go offline to learn more about that brand? Probably not. So you shouldn’t be trying to leverage people off of your website either.
To have a website that functions as a marketing tool, all of the information a visitor would want needs to be right there, easily findable on your site. And all of that information needs to be branded.
Just like how a physical storefront communicates your brand image, a website does the very same thing. Chances are you want to stand out from your competition. Right? Well, for your business’s information to be communicated in a unique and impressionable way, you have to be intentional about your branding.
So what does this intentional branding look like on a website?
Firstly, have your logo visible on every page of your site. This is branding 101 right here. Along with your logo, you need to have a consistent color scheme throughout your website— colors that represent your brand. It may seem unimportant, but the colors do play a subconscious role in influencing a prospect’s attitude towards your brand.
Secondly, the copy on your site needs to use language that connects with the people you’re trying to sell to. Discovering what language to use is a process, and we can help guide you through that process, but the tone in your website copy needs to convey the same feelings consistently throughout the site.
Some other important branding tips are:
- Use relevant imagery
- Be sure to have the essential pages
- Get active on social media
Checkout out this article “5 Ways to Make a Website that Boosts Your Brand” for more information on how to boost your brand:.
3. Be Inbound Friendly
Chances are you’ve heard the term “inbound marketing” once or twice (or maybe many times).
The term was coined by HubSpot and is defined as “an approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful— not interruptive… Potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media.”
In other words, unlike traditional marketing, inbound marketing doesn’t mean you have to compete for the attention of prospects. The philosophy behind inbound is that if you provide enough valuable content and helpful experiences, potential buyers will qualify themselves into your sales funnel and you will build authority and trust in your industry as a byproduct.
With this concept in mind, consider your website. Is there content there that’s relevant and helpful to the people you’re trying to sell to, or is the content on your site mostly about your business? If your website, in a nutshell, fits the latter description then it’s time to make some significant adjustments.
The adjustment begins by changing your mindset about your website. Think of your website not as a way to promote your business, but as a helpful resource. How can you make it as valuable of a resource as possible?
Optimizing your website with an inbound strategy can be accomplished by asking yourself a series of fundamental questions about your audience and your site as it is now:
- Who are the people visiting your website? What are they like?
- How are those visitors finding your website? Through ads? Through an organic search? Through social media?
- Why did those visitors decide to come to your site?
- What kind of content do your visitors want to see on each page?
- What is the purpose of each page of your website? What part of the sales process does each page support?
- What content will inspire visitors to share your brand with their social networks?
When you’ve done some analysis on your website with these questions, you can start the continuous process of testing what content works best on your site.
Do you want to drive more Inbound Marketing? Read our article “How to Optimize Your Website for Inbound Marketing Success” to learn more.
4. Understand the Cost of Digital Marketing
Knowing that inbound marketing is an essential step to establishing your website as a marketing tool that serves your business, you’ll start to realize that you need to invest more into digital marketing. This realization can be a daunting thought, especially if you’re on a tight budget and you’re not sure where to start.
But luckily, the cost of digital marketing is not as big and scary as you might think. In fact, if you’re currently investing more in traditional marketing you will be relieved to know that digital marketing is typically only a fraction of the cost. And businesses are already well aware of this.
Check out this chart from CMOsurvey.org showing the contrast between traditional marketing spend and digital marketing spend:
When it comes to executing digital marketing strategy, you have three options:
- DIY – Do your marketing in-house
- Hire a Freelancer – Get a little more guidance in the strategizing or execution of your digital marketing with the help of an expert
- Outsource to an Agency – If you need a lot of assistance, you can outsource all of your digital marketing to an agency with an experienced team to handle it
These options are not mutually exclusive, meaning you can mix and match if you so, please. In fact, it might be in your best money-saving interests to delegate digital marketing tasks between these three different options.
For example, many businesses are capable of managing their social media on their own as it’s not incredibly time-consuming and there isn’t much of a learning curve when it comes to learning how best to manage social media. But when it comes to developing content, it might be better to hire a freelancer to write content if no one in-house can write well or has the time available to write.
It’s also important to know that you don’t need to use every single digital marketing strategy under the sun— nor should you. You should focus your efforts on the strategies that will best support your inbound marketing, make the most sense for the industry you’re in, and supplement your website marketing.
We have put together a guide that will help you focus on what is important. Check out “A Helpful Guide to the Cost of Digital Marketing.”
These steps are necessary to create a website that serves you in marketing your business. We’d like to say these are simply recommendations, but in this day and age, if you’re not doing these things there’s a high chance your competitors have already established their websites as marketing tools. Don’t lose out to your competitors just because your site isn’t meeting the expectations of a business website in 2017!
Ask a question and post comments if you need help. Or contact us anytime.