Questions to Ask Before Setting Up Your Website
A business website is an essential foundation for all companies today. It is a requirement to establish legitimacy for your business. It enables you to inform, educate and engage with prospective and current customers. And it enables you to have the broadest market reach to maximize your visibility and grow your business.
But it can be dizzying for a new or small business owner to navigate the different tools, styles, approaches, and vendors to determine what kind of website you need, what capabilities it should have, how it should look and function, and how much it should cost.
Here are some questions you should ask before you choose an approach and start walking down the path of Internet Marketing:
What are my business objectives? Determine what your operational and financial goals and objectives are for the next one to three years. Are you trying to penetrate a new market? Who is your target audience? Do you want to sell more of the current products and services you do today? Do you want to build a community or solicit donations and volunteers?
Answering these questions are essential to provide the direction you need to design and create your website.
How can the website help me achieve my objectives? If you are looking to sell products or services, your website should enable your customers to learn about your offerings, order them and pay for them on your website. If you are looking to grow a membership base, solicit volunteers and donations, your website should enable your contributors to signup or contribute money using an appropriate signup or payment form on your website.
If you know what you are trying to accomplish, answering these questions will enable you to ensure the tool has the right capability, and that you design your website to enable the necessary functionality.
Who is my target market or audience, and what are they looking for? Understanding your target market is critical. Who do you want coming to your website, and what will they be expecting to find when they land?
Answering this question enables you to focus the design of your website, the functionality needed, and create targeted messaging, offers, and calls to action.
How do I drive traffic to my website? You can’t expect your website to stand alone and contribute to your business objectives. It can be a beautiful and well designed site, but if no one knows it exists or where to find it, it was a waste of money.
Marketing is the key to driving traffic to your website—both traditional and online. Depending on your business, your market, and your location, it will be necessary to analyze your situation and decide on the right combination of internet-based and more traditional marketing techniques to drive qualified traffic to your website. Internet Marketing techniques include paid search marketing, organic search marketing, Email marketing, social media marketing, and blogging—all with their unique characteristics and uses. In a later post, we’ll spend time diving into the various Internet Marketing techniques that can increase your visibility and attract visitors to your site.
Once they arrive, how do I get people to take action on my site? Once you have identified and understood your target market, and once you have figured out what action it is you want them to take, you can begin to design and build your website.
There are many approaches to increasing conversion rates that we will address in a later post, but there are also some fundamentals that everyone should consider. The first page people land on should include:
- The relevant information they are looking for
- A clean and simple layout
- A focused message and a clear, concise call to action
- The ability to take the next step, whether it is purchase, donate, sign up for a newsletter, etc.
How much should my website cost? Pricing and value continues to vary greatly for new websites. There are many different types of website builders, from do-it-yourself, to large agencies, to boutique firms. Each has a different approach, toolset, level of quality and sophistication. When combined with your unique needs to ensure your website looks, feels and acts the way you need it to, pricing can be all over the map.
In addition, keep in mind that website costs don’t end once it has been built and launched. There are costs for marketing, enhancements, updates, hosting, and maintenance that will continue over the life of your website.
The key is to remember that done right, your website is an investment in your business success, not an expense. It is not an online brochure, it is an essential foundation component driving the operational and financial success of your business. Plan wisely, invest carefully but confidently, measure your ongoing results, and adapt as necessary. The Internet Marketing path is directly ahead of you. It’s time to take your first steps down the path