Building your company’s first website can be challenging, especially if you’ve never tackled this type of project before.
OK, honestly, if you've never done it before it can be a nightmare. But I'm trying to be helpful here ....
These days, most business buyers and potential partners will review your site before they do business with you. It’s potentially the most powerful sales & marketing tool you have – it can help you:
- Generate leads
- Nurture existing leads and move them closer to purchase
- Deliver information about your products & services in a compelling way
- Process orders, cross- and up-sell, and run special promotions
- Communicate with existing customers and distribution channels
- Generate publicity
Think of your site as an interactive brochure that speaks with different groups and converts visitors into prospects and customers. It’s an extension of your brand and an example of the quality of work you do.
Although a site can be a substantial investment, it doesn’t have to be expensive; it just needs to effectively communicate with your market and support your brand. Yet when you develop your site with richer content and some basic marketing functionality, you gain broad and potentially lucrative marketing capabilities.
So where do you start? With the content – the information and tools you’ll need to share with prospects and customers. Design, functionality and programming all come later – first, you need to decide what your site needs to deliver to your market.
There’s a lot to think about, but here’s a basic process to get you started:
1. Identify who will visit your site, then list the information & tools that each “profile” will want and need.
For example, if you sell to three different customer segments – Fortune 100, midmarket, and small businesses – you’ll need to offer content that speaks directly to each segment. Profile your visitors in as much detail as possible; try to identify what they really need each time they visit your site, then add that content to the list.
2. Gather internal ideas.
Invite someone from each team in your company; ask what content could help them improve the way they reach out to sell or service customers. You can do this in a series of one-on-one meetings or hold a brainstorming session. At this point you’re just collecting ideas so add everything to the list.
3. Identify content that can help you sell to prospects who find you online.
Most business buyers use the web to find information about products, vendors, and solutions for their problems. And the higher the price of the product/service, the earlier the buyer starts the search. When do you think prospects will seek you out and what do you need to give them to engage them, get them to request more information, and/or buy now?
4. Identify content that you’ll need for marketing campaigns.
Think short- and medium-term. Consider content such as special organic search landing pages, paid search landing pages, email newsletter section, news section, downloadable white papers, webinar archives, signup forms, etc. You’ll want to make sure your site is ready to handle these activities.
5. Check out your competitors.
What content do they offer that you haven’t already identified and should include on your own site?
6. Miscellaneous ideas.
Is there anything else you may want and haven’t already thought of? Browse other industry sites, award winners, even business sites in vastly different industries – you never know where a great idea will strike!
This process may take a day, a week, or multiple months depending on the complexity of the site and the content needed.
Now that you have a long list, it’s time to prioritize. What do you absolutely need right away and when will you reasonably need the rest? Understand what you’ll want in the medium-term, but remember that you can launch sections on a rolling schedule.
What happens next? This list goes a long way in helping you and potential vendors/developers understand the scope of your project. If you’re developing the site in-house, your next step will be to organize the content to create the site architecture, then start defining your requirements for look-and-feel, functionality, technology, and reporting.
If all of this sounds overwhelming – you’re not alone. But remember -- how do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.