Six elements for online success
To build an effective online presence, you first need to recognize and define six elements that work together to meet your business goals:
These elements will:
- Establish your position in the marketplace
- Help you find and engage qualified customers
- Make it easier for customers to do business with you
There’s also a frequently forgotten — but critical — seventh element that we’ll examine.
Why do you want a website?
What do you want it to do? How do you expect it to work? What are your business goals? How will your website help achieve these goals? Who are your customers? Why would they want to do business with you?
What kinds of content will you need to fulfill your purpose?
Explain your business and services in easy-to-understand terms. This sounds much simpler than it really is. Not only does your copy need to be unique, relevant, and authoritative — Google has to like it. What kind of content will you need to meet your business goals? Do you need a blog or news section? What type of media will you be hosting: Text, images, audio, video?
What design will you need to hold your content?
The web is made of content, and design is what holds all that content in place. You not only want your website to look nice, you want it to be useful, usable, and easy to navigate. How will it be organized? What colors and typography would be most effective? How will visitors be able to interact with it?
What technology is required to serve and store your content?
A stunning design full of wonderful content won’t do you much good unless you have a way to deliver it quickly, reliably, and securely. Where are your customers? Are they local or global? What privacy laws do you need to comply with? Who will manage your website? What kind of access will they need? What maintenance tasks will they need to perform on a regular basis?
- System platform
- Web hosting
- Delivery network
- Email processing
- Form processing
- Traffic analysis
- External integrations
How will you promote and advertise your website?
Okay. You built the perfect website and filled it with original and authoritative content. Unfortunately, nobody knows about it. Nobody can find it. Nobody cares. Now what? This is where marketing comes in. You’ll also need some sort of lead generation plan, an active social media presence, and some solid search engine optimization (SEO).
- Organic search
- Paid search
- Local search
- Sales funnels
- Lead generation
- Email marketing
- Social media
- Traditional advertising
How will you manage and pay for your website?
You’ll never accomplish tasks 1–5 unless you’ve got the people, time, skills and money. If you build a website you can’t manage or promote, you haven’t solved a problem — You’ve created one. Launching a website isn’t the end of this process, it’s just the beginning.
How will you make all of this stuff work together?
If you really want to leverage all the web has to offer, you need to connect all of these elements together to form a lead-generating business tool — Not just a website, but a marketing machine.
To accomplish that you need to have a carefully considered seventh element — An online marketing strategy that will inform how these elements should be integrated to best suit your business goals.
Understandably, designers who build $1,000 websites don’t have the experience or inclination to provide this level of thinking. And experience rarely means programming skills. It means a broad understanding of the web and how people use it.
If you don’t currently have a marketing strategy — or the confidence to create one — a talented designer can help you. The best designers can even point out flaws in your thinking, and help prevent expensive marketing mistakes.
Build something that does something.
To be clear, just about anybody can build you a website. You could even do it yourself. But building an online profit center instead of a sinkhole is a different enterprise entirely. In terms of cost, $1,000 may get you an online brochure, $5,000 will get you closer to a business tool.