Winning online is something I talk about a lot with clients. In looking at things like an Olympic track and field event, your website has to win a combination of heats to get to the medal round and then capture the ultimate goal, the gold medal. Online, that gold medal is the customer … and that can be their trust, their time, their communication or their money. Here is a short summary of just some of the heats you need to win to get to the medal round, but keep in mind they all play off each other to create success.
Heat 1: Getting Customers To Your Site
What are your strategies to move people to your website? SEO, Google Adwords, email marketing, local search marketing, banner ads and inbound links are all ways to push users to your website. Offline is important as well, placing your web address on all your materials and finding ways to include your website as a step in working with you or the end result. More than anything, you can’t afford to just rely on one of the strategies I mentioned, you need to leverage a team of them together.
Heat 2: Search Engine Results, SEO
It’s the race to be ranked. Good site structure, content, trusted inbound links and a good page title are just some of the pieces to get you into the race for great search terms with your competitors. Make sure you are in this race by utilizing good search engine optimization (SEO) practices. If you choose to ignore organic search results, you won’t be anywhere near the finish line.
Heat 3: Design of Your Website, Make a First Impression
What is or isn’t great web design, is always up for debate. You can’t ignore the value of a professional web design, properly coded and constructed to produce a clean, easy to use interface for your website. While it is cheaper for the kid next door to put something together for you, it is expensive to lose this race repeatedly because your quality, experience and trust never connect with the customer.
Heat 4: Website Content: Less Fluff, More Good Stuff
You land them on your site, your design and layout is trust worthy and inviting … now they want answers. Explain what you can do for them, give them examples of how you’ve helped others, product reviews, needed details, relevant photos or graphics. If you answer their questions and educate them, you win their trust … you win them. The web is increasingly going the route of full disclosure, giving as much information to the customers so they can make a decision in their comparison is a must.
Medal Round – A Clear Path, Website Usability
I touched on it a little in heat #2, a website that is easy to use is often a winner. Don’t loose customers, don’t confuse them and don’t make them think. Just provide easy next steps to get them to the end goal they desire (which is usually your goal as well). Clear navigation, content funneling, well placed anchor text and call to action buttons/graphics should all be in the mix here. You should also employ various web analytics and reporting tools to identify roadblocks or patterns as you can always fix things and try new routes.
If you’ve won these heats in any order, you most likely have won the gold medal and earned that customer. They found you, moved through your site and gained answers and insight to how you can help them with their need, problem or question. You funneled them to the goal and they bought your product, filled out an online form, signed up for an account or even called you. Enjoy your moment on the podium.