Never before has the internet been such a powerful marketing tool. Instead of relying on yellow pages, consumers now rely heavily on Google searches. More and smaller business owners are realizing that they need a website to connect with their target audience.
To maximize efficiency and reduce costs, small business owners need to start with a plan and a little research.
Define your goals
It is important to start your website plan with a list of clear goals and then communicate them to your web designer. Web designers and developers are not mind readers and may not understand everything about your business.
Your goals should explain why you want the site and what you expect it to do.
Some common goals include: selling products online, providing customer service and product support, recruiting members for an organization, and providing detailed information about your company.
Define your target market
As a business owner, you know exactly who your customers are and what they need and want. Your goal should be not just to meet, but to exceed their expectations. It’s also important to remember that you probably have more than one target market. You should address the needs and expectations of both. For example, your customers’ current needs are so different from your prospects that they know nothing about your company.
Discovering your target market should affect both the look and tone of your site plan. When selling children’s products, you want to portray fun and colorful graphics and plain text. If you offer financial planning services, you no doubt want clean-looking and informative business-written copy like Ton.
Research your competitors
Perform internet searches using appropriate keywords to find websites of both direct and indirect competitors. These searches should include sites in your industry that are “best of breed” companies. They may not be in direct competition, but they almost always provide insights into your site planning. The key here is to analyze sites and note their content, visual appeal, ease of navigation, and search engine friendliness.
After thorough research, list the sites and detail why. This is a great way for you to communicate your needs, likes and dislikes to your web designer.
Keep your image consistent
Be sure to give your web designer a copy of your current marketing materials. Your new site should look and feel the same and have the same company colors and logo. If your current marketing materials have changed completely, go to a more up-to-date site and then visit your marketing materials at a later time.
When planning your site, be sure to gather all of your marketing materials, mission statements, and employee bios and keep them in one place. You want to digitize (or publish) this information and then send it to your web designer. If you are not the best typist, hire a virtual assistant to do it for you. You don’t want to pay web design rates for data entry!
Set your goals
Determine how you will measure the success of your site by setting goals that reflect your goals. If your main goal is to sell products online, you can set a goal of selling 100 widgets per month. If one of your goals is to be found in search engines, you can set a goal of 50 hits per day for your chosen keywords. Measurable goals are a very important part of your website marketing and allow you to evaluate your success.
These steps should help you think about your website and allow you to develop a plan for success. Once your planning is complete, be sure to find a web designer or company that suits your personal tastes and working style.