31 Mar 11 Questions to Ask Yourself When Planning an Effective Web Strategy
- What are the overall organization’s goals that my Web strategy will contribute to?
Are you trying to improve your brand awareness? Increase revenue by 10%? Knowing what your overall organizational goals are will serve as a compass to guide you through the rest of the process. (Learn more about S.M.A.R.T. Goals)
- What measurable goals will my Web site need to reach to be successful?
Do you need to generate 20 lead submissions a month? Double your newsletter subscription rate? Increase online sales by 10%? When a Web site has specific measurable goals, you can measure the effectiveness and the results clearly. You’ll know what you’re return on investment is and how to improve it.
- Who are my target audiences?
If one of your goals is generating business consulting leads and another goal is attracting potential recruits for your team, you will have two separate target audiences. Each will most likely need to see different parts of the site, a different message, and separate goal pages. After you’ve listed each target audience, brainstorm attributes of each. Things like age group, gender, location, experience level with the Web, and other attributes play a huge role in how effective you will be in reaching your goals. For example, if the sole purpose of your Web site is to generate leads for super high-quality, handcrafted, custom furniture, you would define your target audience as generally between the ages of 30 and 60; with females having the most say in the decision; and perhaps they tend to buy area rugs online too. Now you’ll be able to really focus your attraction efforts and cater your presentation to what the target audience expects.
- How do I attract my target audience(s)?
There are many ways of getting traffic to a Web site. Not all traffic is created equal. Your strategy should investigate possible opportunities with Organic Search Marketing (aka SEO: Search Engine Optimization), Social Media Web sites, Pay-Per-Click, Microsites, “Viral” marketing, and others. All too often companies put up great looking Web sites that don’t get much of the right kind of traffic, because getting people to the site was an after-thought. What’s exceptionally great about Web marketing is that almost everything is measurable.
- At what level are my competitors utilizing the Web?
Reviewing your competitors Web sites and the Google search results for related keywords can tell you a great deal about what you’ll need to do to compete. Every market is a bit different. Some are very saturated and the way to compete is through innovative ideas. Some are wide-open and waiting for the first strong contender to plant their stake in the ground. Most are somewhere in between. There are also numerous tools to gauge various aspects of your competitors.
- What’s the most effective way to present myself on the Web?
The answer has everything to do with your target audience and goals. It’s important to think about the following questions:
– What kind of first impression do I want to give?
– What is each target audience expecting to see?
– Why should they choose me?
– How can the presentation and organization of the Web site reflect the natural process of someone choosing my services and products?
– Are my products or services difficult to understand? (Perhaps an animated presentation would be effective is explaining them)
- How important is usability?
Better usability means more satisfied visitors and better results. Here’s a really simple example: If your audience is of an older age group, use larger text with more contrasting colors. Good usability also means presenting your content to the visitor in a way that feels natural to them. To start thinking about how to organize your content, consider these questions for each page of your site:
– What does the visitor expect to see or do?
– What are common questions they might ask?
– How more information do they want?
– What is the next step we should guide them to?
- What’s the most effective way to arrange my Web site content?
Present your content with less text, more imagery, and include videos. Most people “scan” rather than read Web pages. Guide visitors through your key pages in logical steps. For example, if my goal is to get leads for my consulting service and I know that most prospectives want to know 1) service benefits; 2) how the process works; and 3) experience of the team, then it would be natural to guide the visitor with links or graphics on each one of these pages to the next logical page. It’s a fact that a percentage of people will leave on every click. If you currently have 15 pages and you could present your services more concisely in five, you’ll most likely get better results.
- What kinds of innovative Web media will help me reach my goals?
– Video of Staff: Effective in building a human connection and trust
– Video/Flash of Processes/Products: This can be very helpful in communicating the benefits and difference of your processes or products in a way that text and static graphics cannot. (See Construct Solutions’ Process example)
– Microsite: This is a smaller Web site focused on a particular promotion, product, or service. It’s generally combined with email marketing and other types of advertising.
– Viral Video: If planned and executed successfully, these can direct a huge amount of attention on your company. See “Will It Blend” campaign as an example.
- How do I know if the investment makes sense?
You can track and measure almost everything on the Web. Because you’ve defined your goals, it will be easy to track them automatically. With some Web analytics tools, you can see which advertisements and marketing efforts bring the people that reach goals on your site. However, it’s vital that you choose a Web analytics tools that you are totally comfortable reading. If you understand what the reports are saying, you’ll be able to easily makes plans to evolve your strategy and improve results.
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