Planning your Website Strategy for 2017
New Year usually means new beginnings but doesn’t have to mean a new website. If you think your company website/digital platforms are looking a little lacklustre and not doing what you thought they would, don’t despair. Instead of pulling the plug or investing more money take note of our ideas for a refresh to revitalise and renew your organisation’s online presence.
REFRESH YOUR SITE’S CONTENT, NOT JUST AT THE START OF THE YEAR
Having a website is not enough. People will visit your site once, maybe twice but if they don’t find anything new they will stop coming. Regular content updates ensure that visitors are encouraged to come back, time and time again. Your content strategy doesn’t have to be expensive or flashy, keep the focus on what you want to say and why, understanding that content can take many forms – text, audio, graphics and video. Content matters to your customers, it works to build trust, to engage, inspire and most importantly provides information and answers important questions. The quality of your website content will determine how your customer reacts – both on and offline.
The best way to ensure your content is meaningful is to draw up a content strategy. This will help you to plan for content that is useful and has a purpose. It should inform what you will publish, why and as the internet gets bigger, helps to pinpoint where. A well thought out strategy will dictate not only what should be shared but perhaps more importantly what can be left out. The strategy acts as a benchmark for content decisions and provides a framework for buy in from all stakeholders, including content providers and reviewers. A key role for your organisations content plan is to identify roles to assist in establishing thoughtful and meaningful input into your website. Be careful to not sanction content that cannot be created or maintained in the long run – a content audit can help with this task.
A well thought out content strategy can secure consistent new business for an organisation. Quality content ensures a greater level of customer engagement and satisfaction, which in turn improves sales opportunities, online service and creates trust. Internally, the strategy provides a basis for accountability and some argue that website projects driven by content rather design take up 25% less time and objectives are realised 3-6 months post launch. Make content the focus of your organisations effort in 2017.
ARE YOU SOCIAL MEDIA SAVVY? HOW ABOUT YOUR WEBSITE?
Social media continues to dominate how we engage with each other, how we make decisions and how we access information. Therefore your website plan for 2017 must not only involve improving and maintaining your presence in this area but also focus on establishing clear calls to action, ensuring that a social media interaction is converted into a visit to your site and subsequently a sale. In other words your social signals need to be well tuned. Here are some tips on how to increase traffic to your website:
- Include your website url/link on all your social media accounts
- Proactively monitor and engage social media accounts. Use these channels to interact with existing and prospective customers. Share content on your website through appropriate social media, direct answers to queries and respond to recommendations by posting links from pages on your website that deal with those particular issues.
- Set up a blog. It is the easiest way to stay relevant and have fresh content waiting for site visitors. Tease excerpts from the blog on your social media accounts, prospective customers are more likely to click through to your site if they know something new is waiting on the other side. Be creative. A blog doesn’t just have to be in written form, why not try a YouTube video?
- Social media advertising can be used to increase traffic to your site. If investing in this process be sure that the ads link back to a dedicated landing page for conversion.
- Consider hosting a Twitter chat, a Facebook party or a Google Hangout. These methods offer a great opportunity to increase brand awareness, build relationships and direct people to your website.
As well as checking your social signals are in place, ask yourself if you are present where you need to be? Social media is now so much more than Facebook or Twitter. Link to your audience via LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram. Instagram is a great way to share content that feels natural, it also coincides with the need for more visual content. Instagram allows you to build relationships using pictures and videos – a medium of interaction that is valued far more by mobile users.
OPTIMISE FOR EVERY PLATFORM
One of the reasons for rise in use of social media is the smartphone and tablet. In fact, 45% of the UK owns a smartphone and 93% of this group use their mobile to browse the web every day. 2014 was predicted as the year when mobile users would overtake the numbers of fixed internet browsers. If your site isn’t mobile/tablet friendly in 2015, you risk being left behind. Google reports that 61% return to its site if a search result they have followed through is not readable. Your content needs to be optimised for multiple screens, otherwise there is a chance you will alienate a portion of your target audience.
Statistics also show that 53% of purchases are as a result of an Internet search on a smartphone. This is only possible if a. your site is mobile device friendly and b. there is commerce functionality built in to your site. Giving people the opportunity to purchase directly through your site can help your business to run efficiently. Your website can be open for business 24/7, you can’t. Increasingly people are choosing to buy out of hours at their convenience, therefore if there is no option for your customers to buy from you when they want – they will move onto a company that allows them to do just that.
Furthermore having online ordering functionality means you can take your business to locations you otherwise could not – think global! Some business have recognised the potential in online shopping and have set up solutions via eBay or Facebook. This is fine to a certain degree but it does not offer a consistent brand message nor is it considered professional. The ideal answer is to integrate an eCommerce solution with your website. This gives you total control via your site over the end to end process, from advertising, taking payment to organising delivery.
If you’ve waited till now to invest in an ecommerce solution, it couldn’t be a better time. The process is now easier than ever and doesn’t cost nowhere near as much, whatever your requirements.
Don’t end 2015 with ‘what ifs’ and ‘if only’. Take control of your website and business. The changes we have discussed don’t necessarily mean a huge amount of monetary investment, but they will require planning, follow-through and consistency. Make 2017 the year of your online revolution.