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Why success online doesn't start with a website

12:12 on Tue, 18 Aug 2009 | Industry Comment | 0 Comments

For any business wanting to take advantage of the online revolution, the obvious place to start would be to get a website up and running.

Surely, everything else will follow on from there, won’t it?

Sadly, no it won’t, and this is where many organisations have got it all wrong when planning their assault on the online consumer.  Not just small businesses, but often large brands, too, who should know better.

It is akin to building a house without any foundations - destined to fall down before too long.

Rather than being the top priority, the website should be just one of the resultant activities borne out of the most important thing of all – your digital marketing strategy.

By creating your strategy, you can identify your aims and objectives of your online presence from the outset and plan a route to achieving those goals whether they happen to be sales, leads, enquiries or purely user interaction.

After all, your web activity shouldn’t be seen as a cost, but as a method of delivering you a return on your investment. If it can’t deliver this, then you seriously have to ask yourself why you are doing it in the first place.

Once you have the strategy, which should be unique to your brand or organisation, you have a means by which all other decisions can be made - from the creation of the website to the methods of attracting potential customers to it.

Without a strategy in place, you are literally shooting in the dark. Yet so often we see organisations having websites created that are not even designed with the intention of signposting users through the site to reach the conversion goals. It is like hiding your contact telephone number away in your press ad in 5pt type. Not a good start on your route to online fortunes !

More disturbing still is the fact that little thought has been given in the design and build process to the needs of search engine visibility, which should really be very high on your list of ‘must do’s’ when briefing your web build agency.

If not, then any decent search agency will carry out a site audit and recommend what needs changing to ensure the site can be indexed, crawled and ranked by the search engines.  Obviously the more work that needs to be done, the higher the cost can become – and your level of frustration.  Suddenly that great value website you’ve had built doesn’t look such a bargain anymore.

This can be avoided, of course.  You can find a web or search agency that can build you a ‘marketing-led’ site in the first place. Further is one such agency that creates sites for clients who desire a seamless service from strategy to site to search.

Alternatively, if you are intent on using separate providers for your site and your search marketing, then engage the search agency to provide consultancy at the build stage to ensure the site will be ‘fit for search’. This can save a lot of time and money – and gives you the reassurance of knowing that your site is maximising your chances of success from day one.

Naturally, you cannot expect the site, however well developed, to perform without a dedicated ongoing online marketing strategy, but at least by getting these basic building blocks in place you have a springboard for your activity.

Going back to the digital marketing strategy, it should apply to even the smallest business looking to go online, however simple you believe your offering is. You still have goals you need to achieve from your investment. Why waste the opportunity to make it work?

Beyond the site itself, a strategy will dictate the right marketing tools (SEO, PPC, social media, online PR) you require to reach your audience and traffic targets because this should be carefully considered and tailor made to meet your sector, product and goals.

While it is easy to find fault and criticise with 'strategy-less' sites,  we sense that the wind of change is starting to blow.  More and more clients who have gone down this route as their first taste of internet experience are now recognising that, although online has not worked for them to date, the web revolution is here to stay and grow. They are witnessing success stories in their own sectors, know that second time around they need to ‘do things properly’, and as a result are seeking a more carefully considered strategic approach.

It may cost them a little more in the first place, but the longer term ROI benefits are obvious, and in many sectors, enormous.

So, as with all things in life, you have a choice. You can hurtle yourself headlong into a new site and hope for the best. Or you can plan a profitable return. Now, which is it going to be?


If you’d like to talk to Further about creating and implementing a digital marketing strategy for your organisation, please call Steve Jaggard on 01603 878240 or email [email protected]

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