Strategies for optimizing a website to support digital marketing effectively
By: Alexander Acker, April 12, 2017
It seems like almost yesterday that a company website was the digital equivalent of a clickable online brochure. One whose primary goal was to communicate “who we are”, “what we do”, and “how you can reach us”.
The who, what and how’s still exist on a website today but the website is no longer in a passive, supporting role to traditional outbound marketing and sales techniques. The modern website, powered by analytics and built on content management systems and inbound marketing automation platforms, plays an active role in supporting customer acquisition today.
The modern website plays an active role in supporting customer acquisition today.
The web-based digital pamphlet has evolved into the equivalent of “home base” driving in leads from a variety of digital marketing tactics and strategies. Some of these strategies are pretty standard, from email to paid social, but digital marketers are getting more creative today to differentiate themselves and their product offerings.
If potential customers are being driven to a website for conversion, consider these strategies for optimizing a website to support digital marketing efforts effectively:
STRATEGY 1: Build (or rebuild) a website to handle digital marketing
Digital marketing 101: It’s one thing to have a modern, responsive website built on a Content Management System (CMS) platform like Drupal. It’s quite another thing to build a content strategy and integrate digital tactics that utilize a marketing automation platform to drive engagement and analytics dashboards to track results.
While the job of digital marketing is to create desire with compelling messaging and visuals, the website or landing page that the prospective customer is driven to must be equally as appealing and employ easy, simple calls to action that drive customers to learn more or to purchase.
Tracking the success of campaigns in automation platforms like Marketo, SalesForce Marketing Cloud, and Hubspot and with web analytics tools, like Google Analytics, is essential to ensuring campaign success and maximizing return. In addition, if a channel isn’t working as expected, strong analytics allows companies to pivot quickly to channels that have demonstrated better success rates.
STRATEGY 2: Don’t short the importance of the discovery process
To ensure you’re optimizing your website and creating the most effective digital marketing campaigns, it’s important to first gather the right types of information and to map out the most accurate blueprint. These are essential parts of a successful discovery process:
- Conduct interviews with key decision-makers to understand the strategic, business, sales, and marketing objectives. One CEO we interviewed called it his opportunity to give his view from the “eagle’s perch”.
- Analyze target audience demographics, including their interests, to build customer personas and what would resonate most with them.
- Audit the competitive landscape. That means analyzing two key areas: websites that are actual competitors as well as reviewing websites that the company aspires to. Also, review competitive digital marketing and advertising campaigns that have demonstrated success.
- Review current website analytics to understand key metrics, such as what customers are clicking on, which browsers they’re using, and if the bulk of the customers are coming in from desktop or mobile phones.
- Interview technology teams to understand systems, versions, third-party technology integration needs, server/hosting configuration, and security needs.
STRATEGY 3: Customize, customize, customize and cater to user needs
The most effective websites today will serve customized content based on user preferences and needs. Marketing automation dashboards will track the effectiveness of campaign messaging but the website the user is driven to will need to serve relevant, customized content based on the user’s customer persona and the channel that has delivered them. The customer information that was gathered and organized during the discovery phase should inform this process.
Create customized content
Serving content, marketing, and advertising based on browsing history or cookies provides a customer with a more relevant experience. For example, if a user has made inquiries about a specific financial product, advertising can be served with relevant offers or new content can be served based on the expected buying cycle of a customer’s lifetime needs.
Create customized web pages
With your digital marketing strategies and tactics deployed, drive in webpage visits with a curated, customized content experience. With a solid understanding of your audience demographic and an understanding of which channels they are most receptive to, customize the message to align with what’s valuable to them.
For example, if you’re deploying a marketing tactic designed to target a specific college sports team, drive customers to a landing page or microsite designed to connect the product or solution with the emotional pride of the team, players, and town.
The website will track analytics and provide reporting data that can be used to further tailor campaigns and marketing automation can help keep customers connected to the brand with touch points over a number of channels.
STRATEGY 4: Be creative and differentiate yourself
A unicorn pooping to demonstrate a bathroom product? Love it or hate it, this new brand of digital marketing is designed for creative differentiation. The over-the-top creative approach is designed to make the viewer laugh and feel comfortable with the content while it demonstrates the benefits of the product. Imagine what a 90s infomercial of this product would look like? Gross.
For differentiation, go bold with digital marketing and don’t rely on conventions. A/B test multiple campaigns and messages to test which campaign resonates the best and drives the user to a website or landing page that pushes the boundaries. And drive the audience to a creative website that pushes the boundaries. If it’s a single landing page, use widgets to create interactivity, video to tell stories, drive them to social channels to be part of a community, and ensure they’re always connected and wanting more.
STRATEGY 5: The 90s called. They want their cluttered website back.
For as many companies that have embraced modern web design, there are just as many companies that have not. Cluttered pages with verbose content and generic stock photos should be replaced with clear, concise messaging, and visuals that serve to activate the content, differentiate the brand, and drive the user to learn more or purchase.
The call to action for 2017 is to get companies thinking about their website as a channel to drive sales. To this end, companies will need to think differently about their website, as if it was their largest corporate office, and employ modern website design rules including:
- Utilizing a responsive website design that’s optimized for desktop, tablet, and mobile devices
- Utilizing on a Content Management System (CMS) that, preferably, doesn’t lock into a 5-year or 10-year contract
- Employing analytics tracking and marketing automation
- Simplifying and consolidating content into longer pages with more relevant information grouped together
Is 2017 the year to optimize your website to drive revenue?
To discuss, email Alex or give him a call at 212-243-6867 x212.