Graphic depicting value which we can be generated through online presence

Sometimes it is hard for business owners to understand the value of utilising a marketing professional to assist them.  Today we are going to look at just one area of a company’s marketing communications.  We are going to look at the website and demonstrate the impact a marketing professional can have on its performance.

In the modern age, a website tends to be the central hub through which most marketing activity is directed.  It is a tool which can gather an interested audience, provide them with information and then convert them into clients or hot prospects.  The trouble is, in order to do this effectively, you need to understand a number of different elements of online marketing.

The Build

The earlier a marketing professional can be involved in the process, the better.  The build of the website is so important.  So many smaller website designers and builders are not up to speed with the latest SEO best practice.  It is critical that your site is coded cleanly, with a clear heading structure, compressed imagery for optimising site speed and all of the necessary tagging to ensure the site is as friendly, from a technical aspect, to as many people as possible. The URL structure of the site also needs to be carefully considered to optimise search visibility.  Any marketing professional worth their salt should be able to provide enough guidance at the start of the project to avoid any major errors here.  Please note the experience of web developers in this area fluctuates greatly (make sure you probe them before appointing).

Content

With absolute clarity over who your audience is and how they behave, and the SEO keyword terminology that will drive relevant traffic to your site, you can start to map out your required content.  Note, the keyword strategy may not always be as obvious as you think.  With this in mind a good marketing professional can give you insights into search volumes.  What’s more is that they can look into competitiveness of terms so you can find the right balance.  With clarity over the strategy, then content needs to be created to maximise visibility for those terms.  Remember though, this content needs to also be user-friendly and engaging.  With this is mind it is always better to be guided by a marketing consultant, or a specialist copywriter than carrying this out in-house.  There is a skill in writing for the web and 95% of the time it is waiting on client content which creates the bottleneck in a website project.

Design & Feel

Whereas the first two areas really help improve your website from a visibility and usability perspective, the design is as equally important.  The design and feel of the website is what will represent your brand, and position you in the mind of the user.  What’s more, once a browser has landed on the site, it is the design and feel of it which will ultimately lead to them sticking around. If you hit the wrong notes with the design and feel they could be off as quick as they arrived.  This infographic (snippet below) from https://www.mybizniche.com/ is great overview of the power that colour plays in online design.  A well-designed site which represents your brand in the best light should lead to a higher visitor conversion rate.  Again, a good marketing professional should be able to ensure that your web build stays on track and adheres to your brand guidelines.

Infographic explaining the psychology of colour with respect to website design

Usability

The usability of the site goes hand in glove with the design and feel.  It is great attracting traffic, and if the site looks good they will want to stick around.  However, if the usability of the site is not good, they will soon get frustrated and go looking for a competitor which is an easier experience.  Within usability a marketing professional should guide you through areas such as page loading speeds, intuitive navigation (getting deep within the site within a couple of clicks) and finding information easily.  Also, worth consideration is how easy it is to get back to a page you were just on, can you easily make an enquiry, or get a question answered?

Calls to Action (CTA’s)

Call to action word with megaphone, 3d rendering

If the purpose of your website is to get the browser to do something – i.e. buy online, request a quote or further information, then you need to make this a simple process.  So many websites fall down at this final hurdle.  A marketing professional should be able to audit the customer experience and make sure that there is a simple call to action process at each of the key stages around the site.  Get this wrong and your visitor conversion rate will be low.  Get it really wrong and you face the possibility of the site not generating you any new business opportunities.  Your marketing professional should also be able to advise you on GDPR legislation and what process you need in place when gathering contact information.

What Happens Next?

The first five ways a marketing professional can help improve your online value are very much on-site.  It is all to do with browsers behaviour, and then their experience when the get to your website.  However, an added value area where a marketing professional would help you, over and above a standard website company, is what happens after that enquiry is submitted.  There is little point have a beautiful well optimised website which attracts loads of visitors and converts them into enquiries, if your internal processes off-line let you down.  With this in mind a good quality marketing professional will map out a sales process and consider how that enquiry is going to be dealt with, by whom and within what timescales.

In summary

So, you can see, a marketing professional can help knit the whole project together.  There are a multitude of website designers and developers in the marketplace.  Some are really technical and understand SEO inside out.  Others make really beautiful looking websites.  However, most will see their job as providing visitors with a good experience, that you simply look good online.  Some will expect all content and imagery to be provided by the client.  Others will expect you to know your keyword strategy and will focus only on SEO friendly design. A marketing professional can take you through the whole project.  Firstly, attracting the right audience with the correct intent to your site. Secondly providing them with an engaging experience which leads to an enquiry/sale.  And finally, ensuring that the company responds to any enquiry in an efficient and professional manner.  Once all these elements are in place, the value of a website can be maximised.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.