Your Website: The Hub of Your Digital Marketing Strategy
Although an effective digital marketing strategy is composed of several key components, none of them are as important as your website.
Your website is your shop front, the main entrance to your business – the ‘face’ of your business. Despite this, all too many businesses treat it like a glorified brochure. In reality, without an effective, user-friendly website, you don’t have much of a digital marketing strategy.
However, when you understand the role of your website and how it can be used to connect with your target market, you’ll start attracting more visitors, generating more qualified leads, and making more sales than ever before.
So, with that goal in mind, this post explains the importance of your website in your digital marketing strategy and how to make better use of it.
Why A Website Is Important for Digital Marketing
A good website isn’t just important for digital marketing – it’s crucial. Here are three roles a website plays in your digital marketing strategy.
Website as The Main Entrance to Your Business
Before the explosion of the internet, most businesses had a physical location, whether that was a shop, showroom, or office. These bricks-and-mortar premises acted as the main entrance of their business, where consumers had to go if they wanted to purchase products and services they offered. Today, those same consumers will visit your website instead.
Your website isn’t just the main entrance of your business, as it’s a storefront, it’s also the face of your company. Your website represents your brand in the marketplace and, as a result, it’s where potential customers form their first impressions of your company.
To further the analogy of your website being your storefront, let’s conduct a quick thought experiment: if your website was actually a shop, what would be like? How would potential customers perceive your store? How does your shop compare to the description below?
- Having a great website is like having a great-looking shop. It’s easy for customers to make their way around, find what they’re looking for, and to find out more information when they need it. Then, when it comes to making a purchase, all specific questions they have about their item(s) of choice are answered and they go away feeling good about their purchasing decision. All of which gives your business credibility and makes it likely they’ll recommend you to their friends and family.
- Having an average-to-good website, much like your run-of-the-mill shop, won’t leave much of an impression. Sure, people will stop by and have a look but there’s not a whole lot to keep them interested: so most will leave fairly quickly. That being said, you’ll get some customers from time to time, though it will mainly be those who know what they want and happen to know that you sell it for a decent price.
- Having a poor website is like having a shoddy-looking shop. The kind of shop that, as you walk around, makes you think, “why don’t they give this place a lick of paint, or at least clean it.” Worse still, it’s poorly laid out and hard to find what you’re looking for. This is a type of store where you can never seem to find a member of staff when you have a question about an item. And if you do happen to find one, it almost feels like your query interrupted their day.
- Not having a website, meanwhile, just makes you look amateurish: it causes your prospects to(correctly) think ‘what kind of business doesn’t have a website these days?’.
The Importance of a Website for Marketing
Your website is also vital for marketing your business for several reasons. Firstly, it creates awareness of your brand in the marketplace; it lets people know that you exist. If you don’t have a digital marketing strategy, the likeliest place consumers will stumble across your brand is through your website.
Secondly, your central brand messaging should go on your website. This is the main place where you’ll communicate with your target market. This includes your product range, the features of each of your products or services, and most importantly, how they will benefit from them.
It’s through the brand messaging, or the marketing copy, on your website that you gain your visitors’ trust. Quite simply, if they don’t trust you, they’re not going to buy from you. Nearly all consumers have a fear of making a mistake when they buy something: that a purchase will not only be a waste of money but, worse still, a waste of time – in both making the mistake and rectifying it. Your website is a prime opportunity to show that you’re here to help them make smart purchasing decisions.
Thirdly, your website is such an important part of your digital marketing strategy because it’s where you want your prospects to end up as a result of your marketing efforts. Whether you run an ad campaign or post content on a variety of social media platforms, you’re going to want to direct potential leads to your website, where they can find out more about your company and ultimately make a purchase. Similarly, content such as blog posts, case studies, testimonials, etc. will all be featured on your website.
Importance of A Website for Sales
Ultimately, the goal of any digital marketing campaign is to encourage leads to take profitable action – which means, at some point, that they’ll buy something from you. More often than not, this is going to take place on your website.
On one hand, if you have an online store from which consumers can purchase your products directly, then your goal is to get them to buy something then and there. Alternatively, if you have a service-based business, your goal could be for them to make an inquiry through your website: whether through a contact form, sending an email, or giving you a call.
However, where a business was previously restricted to particular opening hours with a brick-and-mortar premise, a website allows consumers to purchase your products and services around the clock. Additionally, well-written website copy and frequently-added, useful content will help convert leads, which means you don’t always have to actively engage with visitors for them to become customers.
How Do I Make Interactive Websites?
The more that visitors interact with your website, the more memorable it will be. This in turn increases the chances that they make a purchase during their visit or that they remember it enough to return when they’re ready to buy. There are several ways to make your website interactive and increase visitor engagement.
- Encourage them to leave comments: The most effective way to do that is with well-written content which contains a ‘hook’, which is a usual question that entices readers to answer in the form of a comment.
- Asking for ratings and reviews: Asking existing customers or clients to rate their experience of your product or service. These ratings and reviews then help convert more visitors into customers as they help lend credibility to your business. If your attempts at getting a review from customers have proven unsuccessful in the past, you may need to offer your past customers an incentive for providing you with one. This could be something as simple as a discount on their next purchase.
- Polls, surveys, and quizzes: You can then use the feedback you’ve gathered to improve your products, services, and the way you communicate with your target market.
- Social media buttons: These allow the visitor to instantly share content from your website on their preferred social media channels.
- Links: You could include external links to support information you’ve included in your content, such as statistics. However, internal links are preferable they direct visitors towards other useful content within your website. The more of your content they find valuable, the greater the connection they’ll feel towards your brand.
What Are the Goals of a Digital Marketing Strategy?
Although the goal of any digital marketing strategy is to generate more revenue, different businesses have various obstacles that stand in the way of achieving that. Their challenges usually fall into one of three categories:
- Attracting more prospects
- Converting more leads
- Closing more sales
As a result, your digital marketing strategy should contain tactics for achieving all three of these objectives.
Ways of Attracting More Prospects
Attracting more visitors is what most businesses are looking for from their digital marketing campaigns. They simply want more of their target market to be exposed to their products or services to increase the chance of making sales. Methods of attracting more prospects include:
- Search engine optimisation (SEO): Optimising your website so it appears higher in the relevant search engine results pages (SERPs) and directs more people to your site
- Pay-per-click marketing (PPC): Running an ad campaign on certain keywords that prospects will be searching for.
- Content marketing: Writing blog posts and articles that will draw visitors to your website.
- Social media marketing: Consistently posting on the channel most relevant to your target audience to increase awareness of your brand.
Ways of Converting More Leads
Though some prospects will make a purchase on their first visit to your site, the majority won’t. Some may return later after a little more consideration (and shopping around), while others will never come back. To maximise the number of visitors that go on to make a purchase from you, you need ways to better convert your leads. These include:
- Email marketing: Email marketing allows you to stay in regular contact with prospects. As they’ll receive frequent marketing communications from your brand, they’re more likely to remember it, as opposed to visiting it once and never coming back!
- However, for a prospect to give you their email address (and other contact details) you need to offer them something worthwhile. This could be downloadable such as an eBook or an interactive resource of some kind. Similarly, it could be a free assessment, trial, consultation, or something to that effect.
- Content marketing: This is more in-depth content that helps further educate the prospect and help them make a purchasing decision they feel comfortable with. Such content includes:
- Comparison posts
- Case studies
- Expert guides
- How-to and product demonstration videos
Ways of Closing More Sales
These are a technique which guides your prospects over the ‘buying line’ and towards making a purchase. This is especially relevant for businesses whose websites get a fair amount of traffic, and perhaps receive a few enquiries, but don’t close as many sales as they should. Ways of closing more sales include:
- More calls to action (CTA): Where you guide prospects towards the next stage of the buying journey by telling them what to do next. Most buttons are calls to action, as are phrases like ‘click here, ‘sign up’, and ‘book an appointment, and ‘add to basket’. Sometimes, a business can improve its customer conversion rate by simply adding more calls to action in its content.
- Short-term special offers: Discounts and special offers which are only available for a short time can help to close sales by increasing the sense of urgency within prospects. This is caused by triggering their fear of missing out on a great deal –and paying more for something they could get for less. Special offers are excellent ways to convert subscribers to your mailing list, as you can provide them with exclusive discounts reserved for those who wisely handed over their email addresses.
- Payment methods: Offer as many payment methods as possible to make it as easy as possible for people to make purchases.
- Case studies, reviews, and testimonials: These increase your credibility and help build trust.
What Are Digital Marketing Tactics?
Your digital marketing strategy is your overarching plan: the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of promoting your brand online. Tactics, meanwhile, are the how of your digital marketing strategy: the specific techniques and tools you’re going to employ in your digital marketing strategy.
The best tactics to use depend on the main goals of your digital marketing strategy, as discussed above, and your target market, which we’ll look into in the next section.
Here are some of the most prominent digital marketing tactics:
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): SEO is the process of optimising your website so it appears higher in your target audience’s search engine ranking pages (SERPs). SEO can be categorised as being on-page SEO, which relates to improvements you can make on your own site, and off-page SEO, which relates to other websites, linking back to your site.
- Ads: This is the process of promoting your business through a series of advertisements on digital platforms. Google Ads is, by far, the best example of this, though ads on social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are also very popular and are picking up steam.
- Content Marketing: Content marketing is the practice of attracting visitors to your website by creating and promoting information that your target audience will find valuable. This content could be text-based (blogs, articles), images (photos, infographics), video, or audio.
- Social Media Marketing: Social media marketing utilises platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, to reach your target audience. It’s a great way of increasing awareness about your brand, as well as promoting content that you’ve published on your website.
- Email Marketing: Email marketing is the process of building a greater connection with prospects through a series of emails. As well as promoting your products and services, email can be used to educate and inform your prospects.
How to Structure Your Digital Marketing Strategy
Now, it’s time to put the strategy for your website together. Here’s a 5-step guide on how to structure your digital marketing strategy.
Determine your goals
First and foremost, what are your goals for your digital marketing strategy? Or, to put it another way, what do you want from your digital marketing efforts? Of course, as we discussed above in the section on goal, eventually, it all really comes to down-boosting your bottom line. But what exactly is preventing your business from making more money?
- Is it a lack of traffic?
- Or, do you have a lot of visitors but none of them are turning into solid leads?
- Alternatively, do you get a lot of enquiries but find you’re unable to convert them into sales?
Before you set out to solve your business’ sticking points with your digital marketing strategy, you need to know what your company’s marketing problems are.
Also, more importantly, without goals, you won’t know how effective your digital marketing strategy is. You need goals so you know what success looks like when you achieve them.
Define Your Target Market and Target Audiences
Once you’ve established a set of goals by which to measure the effectiveness of your digital marketing strategy, you need to define your target market and the distinct target audiences within it.
To determine your target market, look at:
- Your products and services: What type of people could benefit from them?
- Who already buys your products or services: See if you can determine any shared characteristics among your existing customers. More specifically, try and define their demographics, psychographics, and behaviour.
- Your competitors: What kind of people buy from your competitors (look at testimonials and case studies)? Who do your competitors seem to be targeting?
If you want to learn more about how to find your ideal customers, we go into greater detail in our post on how to define your target market.
Create Buyer Personas
Once you understand your target market and have established things like their demographics, psychographics, and behavioural traits, you can use this information to put together a collection of buyer personas (checklist).
A buyer persona, also known as a customer avatar, is a character that is made up of the same traits as your ideal customer. Your buyer persona should condense the most important, shared characteristics of your customers so you have a better idea of who you’re attempting to reach with your digital marketing campaigns.
Ideally, you should create a persona for each of your target audiences. For example, you might have an online shoe store, which means your target market could be quite broad. However, among your product range will be shoes for men, women, and children, so that the very least, you have three target audiences.
However, if you were to drill down into each product category, you’ll find multiple subcategories, each of which could be a target audience. Looking at ‘women’s shoes, for instance, you’d have subcategories like high heels, trainers, and hiking boots. Each of which could potentially have a separate buyer persona.
Decide On Your Digital Marketing Tactics
Once you’ve created at least one buyer persona, you can select a range of tactics to include in your digital marketing strategy. These are the specific platforms, tools, types of media, and the nature and content of your marketing communication.
When determining which tactics to use, consider the following:
- Which platform will be best for finding your buyer persona?
- Email marketing? Social media platforms? (LinkedIn? Instagram?)
- Which digital tools will help you best navigate your chosen platform?
- Which type of digital media will most appeal to your buyer persona? Video, text, images?
- Which type of media lends itself to your products or services? (If you have products that photograph well, for example, then you’re going to want to use lots of images.)
- Marketing communication
- What are the most important benefits of your products or services?
- How can you best communicate them to your buyer persona?
- How frequently will you publish content or post on social media platforms?
Look for Holes in Your Digital Marketing Strategy
Finally, this is where you review your strategy and fix any issues to the best of your ability.
First, before you begin to implement your digital marketing strategy, you need to look for any aspects you may have overlooked. This is essential ‘proofing’ your strategy to make sure it’s as robust and thought-out as possible.
Secondly, and more importantly, you need to look for holes in your strategy after you begin to execute it. Many business owners create a digital market strategy once and never touch it again. However, a lot of your strategy and the tactics you employ to reach your target audience will be guesswork at first: educated guesswork, sure, but guesswork all the same. However, once your strategy and is up and running, you’ll learn which of your assumptions were accurate and make changes accordingly.
The main way you’ll gather information to fix the holes in your strategy is through analytics. This analytical data will come through tools like Google Analytics, as well as others that are specific to the platforms you’re marketing on. Things to look for in your analytics include:
- How many visitors are visiting each day/week/month?
- Do any particular days or times of the day stand out for higher traffic?
- From those visitors, how many make enquires?
- How many enquiries lead to sales?
- Did a piece of content work as well as you expected?
- If not, why not? What could be improved?
- What type of content seems to attract visitors?
- What about your strategy is not working?
The thing to remember about analytics is they provide so much information that it’s easy to get lost or overwhelmed in all the figures, tables and graphs. This is yet another reason it’s crucial to have clearly defined goals for your digital marketing campaigns. You’ll then know which analytical data relates to your goals and, consequently, what to pay attention to.
Your website is the backbone of your digital marketing strategy. It plays a crucial role as the face of your business, in marketing your products and services, and as the place where consumers can, ultimately purchase them. Without a good website, most of the digital marketing campaigns won’t amount to much.
Before you implement a digital marketing campaign, make sure your website is putting its best foot forward by making it attractive and interactive. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself burning through your marketing budget while not making many sales.
However, when you treat your website as the main entrance to your business, and design and regularly update it with potential customers in mind, your business’s bottom line will grow significantly.
Steve Jaenke has been involved in the digital world for over 2 decades. Seeing the power of SEO early in the market he pivoted his business to focus on assisting SME to understand and leverage the power of Google. He is a recurrent judge for the Australian Web Awards awards.