New Website: planning your marketing? Look close to home first!

When it comes to planning business marketing for the new year, many people start by working out their budgets for online advertising, print media and design work. If this sounds familiar, STOP! Before you pour your hard-earned dollars into any form of advertising, think about where you’re pointing people to – my money is on your website. Right? And when was the last time you updated your content, refreshed your design work, or checked your functionality? Could it be time for a new website?

Your website is your number one selling tool, your virtual store front, your online business card. Your customers will arrive at your website with certain expectations – and if they can’t find what they’re looking for in the first few seconds (or even milliseconds!) then it’s highly likely you could lose them forever.

So just how effective is your website?

Design – clean, clear, effective and unique!

A new website design needs to be eye-catching yet uncluttered. It needs to immediately give an impression that relates to your industry, service or product, and it needs to resonate with their purpose or requirements. A good design will have your contact details (such as your phone number and email address) as one of the first, most eye-catching priorities. It should also avoid an overcrowded, cluttered feel, opting for the easiest and clearest presentation of information possible. Does this sound dry and boring? Well, that’s where truly clever web design comes into play! A talented web designer will be able to keep the important stuff where it’s supposed to be, while still exciting your customer with a unique design profile. Check your website – how’s it measuring up so far?

Content is king         

You’ve probably heard this a number of times, but there’s no escaping the truth of it: content really is king. When it comes to ranking on Google, your content will dictate the efficacy of your organic search rankings. Basically, if your content is too crammed with key words to make sense, or if you’ve ‘borrowed’ information from other sites, or if you’ve rambled on for too long without hitting the mark, well, these are all pretty important considerations for your website’s page rank. Other things to consider include the correlation between your page titles and your content, whether you’ve thought about your customer’s intent when they search, and also whether you are updating your content regularly (blogging is a fantastic tool for this). Again – take a look at your website: how’s that content shaping up?

The user experience

So you’ve checked the design and the content, now it’s time to take a look at the user experience side of things. This is all about really stepping into your customer’s shoes and going through the motions of searching, reading, purchasing or entering information as your customer would. It’s a very interesting exercise to put yourself and your family or friends through, and you may be surprised at the feedback you receive. Recently a friend discovered that her marked drop in online sales for one large item was due to a shipping glitch – the large item was extremely light, yet the shipping was calculated on size. This had led to a cost of thousands just for delivery: once the settings had been altered, the problem was solved and sales quickly picked up again. It’s all about keeping in touch with your user experience, and keeping those online customers happy!

Of course there’s plenty more to consider when giving your website the once-over, important areas such as analytics (tracking and understanding the movements of your website visitors), SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to increase organic reach, and living content (news, specials, blogs, keeping that content fresh!). Once your website is in top shape, then it’s time to ramp it up and enter the world of social media: but first, check those basics!

For more expert advice, contact the friendly team at Monster Graphics!

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