Build a website without budgeting and delivering an ongoing digital engagement strategy is like buying a car without fuel, Bert without Ernie, Bonnie without Clyde, Fred without Ginger, gin without tonic and strawberries without cream.
Too many businesses build a website and then think ‘job done.’ Its reminiscent of the film Field of Dreams’ main plot when farmer Ray Kinsella hears a voice that whispers, "If you build it, he will come" and sees a baseball diamond in his cornfield. He builds a baseball field, no one turns up and Ray is financially ruined.Your websites performance can pretty much follow the same pattern if there is no engagement strategy woven in right from the genesis of the design and build.
71% of CEO’s see communications moving towards social and digital collaboration and your future website will be the hub of that collaboration. In addition, 87% of CMO’s expect to focus on an integration of cross channel touch points in the next 3 - 5 years. (1) You are going have to dare yourself to future proof that website no matter how far that pushes your comfortability.
Driving traffic, engaging that traffic and converting it into business is relatively easy. We know the formula, we’ve known it for years. The problem is that few organisations budget realistically and put the necessary resources behind it. Plus there is an inherent problem that many companies are not agile enough to deal with the constant changes that social and digital experiences. Adaption is not what organisations are very good at. So what do I recommend, well here are some pointers:
Please build a strategy, the most important question you can ask yourself is “why?” Why are we doing this? If your marketing team can’t justify it business wise, don’t do it until they can. When attempting to drive engagement take the time to determine exactly what that means to you and more importantly what that means to your prospect or customer. A website needs to achieve these four things:
- increase revenue.
- increase lead generation.
- improve brand profile.
- build long term relationships & loyal customers.
With these objectives in mind, deploying the following five tactics must be at the forefront of your mind:
1. Content personalisation
When you improve the content of the page for the individual visitor based on the keywords they have used and the pages they have visited you get massive customisation and this is how many brands are profiling their customers through loyalty programs that integrate content, web, digital and social solutions.
If you use Amazon a lot you will recall "people who like this also like..." This is based purely on the product, it's useful, but not as useful as a process that combines this with what you know about the visitor. What do I mean? You’re looking to build your own home so you go to Google and find a list of specialised architects. A website that generates personalised content will show you the home page as requested, but will emphasize the work they have done on other self builds very specific to your requirements, likewise, the portfolio page will put the images of those projects at the top rather than the bottom. This saves time and directs the search results faster.
Small changes to the way you present your content like this revolutionises customer conversion because you are able to focus your expertise on the area directly relevant to your visitor and I’m talking quite simply here, it can be a lot more sophisticated. So when you talk to your Marketing specialist, these are the kinds of solutions you must demand from them.
What effect does personalised content have on your business goals?
- improved lead conversion rates.
- increased sales especially on ecommerce sites.
- better customer experience of your website. clearer messaging of your offer.
2. Integrate with social engagement
Quality content and quality conversations drives social media engagement. Too many people have siloed social and digital, yet they are inextricably linked. People will have conversations everyday with you about your brand and products but it won’t necessarily result in you hitting those strategic objectives you set out quite clearly to your executive team. However, clever, relevant campaigns will. Remember attention is different to relevance.
I always recommend clients do the usual day to day stuff by keeping social media in perspective, stimulating and responding to conversations, enquires and complaints but really focus effort/resource on 3 or 4 major imaginative campaigns per annum. That will drive people to your website and get them focused. Essentially it brings social media conversations back to your hub site.
What effect does social engagement have on your business goals?
- improved lead generation.
- improved brand profile.
- deeper relationships with customers.
- increased conversion rates.
This isn’t what it used to be. Jelly, social media platforms and Google are changing the playing field and keeping up to date with this is a very specialist job nowadays. The major problem here is budget. Budget for basic stuff, budget for some sophisticated action around campaigns and budget for the inevitable changes Google et al will throw at you. Remember also that search engine optimisation is more about search engagement optimisation.
What effect does a solid SEO plan have on your business goals?
- increased, relevant traffic.
- delivery of customised content.
- improved lead generation.
4. Customer communities
Customers today are more connected than ever before, communities can provide the ideal platform for them to share their opinions and needs. Peer to peer review is extraordinarily important in todays scramble for product savvy consumers.
According to an IBM study, 85 percent of users say social networks influence their purchasing decisions. A brand community can serve as the central hub for all social interactions. Communities can work collaboratively with companies by helping them identify the content that makes the most significant impact and also support the development of new products/services. This adds a new level of intelligence that can then successfully drive sustainability.
Moreover, the community can act as a force multiplier, facilitating meaningful relationships between customers and companies to achieve exceptional customer experience.
What effect does this have on your business goals?
- brand loyalty.
- deeper customer commitment.
- customer trust.
- increased sales as you can cross sell and up sell.
- building reputation through word of mouth and referral.
5. Measurement and analysis
There is always something missing from a website build project and its usually this. I wish I had a pound for every company who hasn’t set up a measurement practice around their social and digital activity. The scope for build insights into your customer behaviour, likes and dislikes is staggering. The more you know about your customer, the better you understand them, then you can design around and with them. I like Olivier Blanchard’s approach in his book Social Media ROI. Its simple and effective.
If you build a website without this attached to it, you’re quite frankly mad. Data will be a differentiator for you. And, I’m not just talking about Google Analytics here but scraping the internet for data too. People will be having conversations about your brand online that you don’t even know about. Do yourself a favour and build this, no matter what, into your website design and build project. Oh yes, and budget for it too, you won’t regret it.
What effect does data analysis have on your business goals?
- business intelligence on unprecedented levels although you will need to budget for ‘big data’ very soon.
- in depth insights into customer/prospect behaviour.
- better and very accurate decision making.
- aids predictive analytics.
Companies and their executive teams need to think about how they are going to use social properties to engage with both current and potential customers and then how to optimize their experience to maximize sales and profits. In essence, they need to relearn how to do something that businesses have done since the dawn of commerce and to educate their marketing teams that website optimisation is no longer about just about the engine, its about the engagement.
(1) IBM - Insights from the Global C-suite Study http://www-935.ibm.com/services/uk/en/c-suite/csuitestudy2013/
If you are a CEO, Senior Executive or Director, Ann is running some innovative seminars in the Spring on how to move your website performance to the next level. For further info or to book a place contact Ann on email@example.com