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Why should you never think website first in your approach to marketing.

Browsing a website on a laptop

There aren’t many businesses that don’t have a website – even if it’s just a basic one-pager. It’s often one of the first marketing tools new companies invest in, and with good reason.

After all, most people use the internet regularly – smartphones have allowed us to keep the internet in our pockets. So it makes sense for businesses to have an online presence.

But, despite the many advantages of having a website, it shouldn’t be the sole focus of your marketing strategy.

A website is only one element of marketing

A good marketing strategy begins with the things your customers don’t see – research, planning, positioning, analysis, and segmentation.

Who are your ideal clients? How are you positioning yourself in the market? What are your key messages? How will you target the right people? Which tactics are right for your business?

Those things might not be as exciting as getting a fancy new website, but they are the things that will improve your return on investment.

Once you’ve done your research and planning, you can then focus on the tactics. How will you communicate with potential customers? Email, social media, paid ads, print marketing, networking and events, cold outreach – there are hundreds of marketing activities to choose from and not all of them will be right for you.

Young businesswoman drawing her marketing plan on screen

And marketing doesn’t stop with attracting new customers. Marketing to existing customers is just as important. How will you encourage repeat purchases? Can you offer a loyalty programme? Would a ‘refer a friend’ scheme work for you? As you can see, ‘marketing’ covers a broad range of things, and it doesn’t start or end with having a website.

Your ideal prospects might not be visiting your website

While having a website as a reference point for potential and existing customers can be useful, it won’t necessarily bring you leads, enquiries or sales.

That’s because it might not be where your ideal customers are looking for your services.

Take a window cleaning company as an example. Most people find their window cleaner via recommendations from neighbours, local Facebook groups, or through local advertising like van signage or a flyer through the door. If these things are generating enough customers, a window cleaner might not necessarily need a website.

Restaurants can get a lot of new customers through word-of-mouth marketing, targeted social media ads, local advertising and so on. While a website might be useful for showcasing menus and enabling people to book, it won’t necessarily be the thing that attracts attention in the first place.

And if you’re selling products on a small scale, it can be beneficial to use third-party websites and marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy and Not On The High Street. People are already going to those sites to shop, so you don’t have to generate your own traffic. Before you invest thousands of pounds into a new site, find out whether your ideal customers will even be looking for you there.

You need a strategy for getting visitors to your website

There are over 1.9 billion websites online. The chances of your ideal customers stumbling across yours without you doing any other marketing is slim. And if nobody is visiting your site, it won’t generate any leads or sales.

So if you’re considering investing in a new website, you should also consider how you will drive traffic to it. Don’t blow all your budget on a fancy design and then wonder why it isn’t generating enquiries.

Guide to SEO

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get visitors to your site, including search engine optimisation (SEO), paid ads, social media, and email marketing. The right strategy for you will depend on where and how your ideal customers search for you. If your ideal customers aren’t on Facebook, there’s no point spending hundreds of pounds on Facebook ads. Equally, if people aren’t searching online for your services, you probably don’t want to invest in SEO. This is why all good marketing strategies require research.

Your website needs to convert visitors into customers

Once you’ve got visitors to your website, you need a way to keep them there and convert them into enquiries or buyers.

There are a few key considerations: design, functionality, content, and ease of use.

Here are some of the things that will put visitors off:

  • Slow-loading sites
  • Not optimised for mobile
  • Too many pop-ups
  • Broken links
  • Buttons that don’t work
  • Unclear messaging
  • Difficult to take action
  • Next steps not made clear
  • Too much on the page
  • Hard-to-read text
  • Not enough information
  • Hard to navigate

Your website should always be designed with the user in mind. Make it visually appealing and easy to use. Invest in good copy and make your calls to action clear and easy to take.

Out-of-date websites can be detrimental to your business

Getting your website live is only the first part of the process. You’ll also need a strategy for keeping it up to date.

You could miss out on customers if you don’t update your products and services. And if your website messaging doesn’t match your other marketing messaging, you’ll confuse customers.

Refresh your content regularly, feature your most recent customer feedback, add new blog content, update images, and keep product listings and pricing up to date.

The word content graffitied on a brick wall

Marketing is about getting your message in front of your ideal customers

Ultimately, the key to effective marketing is meeting your customers where they are, whether on social media, through email, or in person. By focusing too much on your website, you may miss out on opportunities to connect with potential customers in other ways.

Taking a more holistic marketing approach will improve your chances of reaching your ideal audience.

If you’re considering updating your website, it has to be aligned with your wider marketing strategy. And if you don’t have a marketing strategy, Opportunity Marketing can help.

From our marketing pit stop – a two-hour marketing consultation – to our full marketing strategy, all our services are designed to help you get greater returns on your marketing investment.

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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.
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