No website is an island! Left alone, a website is not much more than a little billboard on the information superhighway, so for it to be effective it’s important that you weave it and other digital efforts frequently into your overall marketing activities.  And like any marketing activity, the purpose should be to generate qualified leads.  Your website might have other purposes beyond generating leads (I.e recruitment, investor relations, public communications, etc), but in any event it is likely still a mechanism to spur action or get a desired outcome from it’s audience (inform, empower, persuade, etc.).  With this in mind, let’s discuss the  three “must have” components of an effective website strategy:

Attract an Audience

The best way to attract an audience is by being attractive and available.  Looks matter, but as we all know they’re only skin deep, it’s what inside that counts and for a website this means quality content.  And when I say website, I really mean your web presence. The quality content required to attract an audience goes far beyond the borders of your website.  Marketers must become digital publishers!  Put yourself out there and spread the love – Blogs, YouTube, Twitter, Email, LinkedIn, and Facebook should all be considered publishing platforms that integrate with your website. Also consider the value of a reputable search engine optimization firm and the possibility of a pay-per-click campaign on Google, Facebook and/or LinkedIn.  For more  specific tactics check out my previous post regarding a social media game plan.  Just make sure you’re putting your best foot forward by providing value to your audience as opposed to only hype and self promotion. Think Oprah and not PT Barnum.

Convert Visitors to Action

Have a call-to-action or a mechanism for engagement.  It’s surprising how many websites and marketing efforts lack a clear call-to-action – This is marketing 101. It’s as simple as offering a download in exchange for an email address or a free consultation by telephone, newsletter sign-up, contest entry, RSS feed, Twitter follow, poll, or invitation to an event. Also consider tying these things in with a specific landing page and monitoring how often leads come back to your site so that you can track when it’s the best time to follow-up. I read an interesting stat that purchasers will do 60% of their information gathering before contacting a company, so it’s important to nurture these leads by monitoring their activity and reach out with soft touches along the way. HubSpot offers a pretty slick tool that allows you to track the repeat visits of visitors to your site and allows you to grade them so your follow-ups are laser targeted.

Analyze Metrics to Optimize Efforts

Makes sure your website and digital marketing efforts are being measured so that they can be optimized.  The big online companies eat this stuff up because they know knowledge is power and by evaluating stats and metrics they can have tremendous revenue impacts by making changes that impact their conversion rates.  However,  analyzing data is where most efforts fall apart because most SMB marketers don’t have time or an appetite for this work. Sadly, by ignoring this you are defeating a major benefit of digital marketing since it is more easily measured and modified than any other medium.  Use Google Analytics or another reputable stat package on your website to track where traffic is coming from and what pages are most popular.  Take full advantage of the stats made available through Pay-per-click campaigns and try variations of ads to determine what works best.  It’s so easy to measure and adjust digital efforts, it’s silly not to at least try.