A Succesful Website Starts With the Strategy

It’s pretty obvious that any good house starts with a solid foundation. The same applies to a website. In order to ensure a successful website that achieves your goals you need to start with a solid foundation. You need to develop a sound website strategy that outlines your goals, target audience, market position, competitors and marketing efforts. This strategy, or blueprint, will help you and your web designer develop a website that will achieve you online goals.

Put it this way if you don’t know why you want a website, apart from because everyone else has one, how will you be able to measure your success? Quite simply you can’t.

So how do you develop your strategy? To get you started consider the following:

What Are Your Online Goals?

What are the goals of your website? What do you want to achieve?

  • Sell products online?
  • Build sales leads?
  • Reduce support costs?
  • Inform people?
  • Attract newsletter sign-ups?
  • Attract advertising revenue?
  • Brand yourself or your company?
  • To reduce time providing telephone support?

Once you’ve defined your goals you can set about working out how to achieve them and how to measure the results.

Who Is Your Target Audience?

Who is your website targeted to? Think about your audience and try to break it down in terms of:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Location
  • Income
  • Internet skills
  • Other

This will help you to determine your target audience which in turn will influence the look and feel of the website, whether you need to target an international, national or local market, what sort of pricing strategy to adopt, how easy the website should be to use and what sort of ongoing marketing strategies are required.

Who is Your Competition? How Are They Positioned?

Take the time to check out the competitive space. Questions to ask:

  • Who are your online competitors?
  • How do they position themselves?
  • How easy/hard is their website to use? Is it engaging? Compelling?
  • How are they positioned in the search engines? Can you compete?

How Will Prospective Customers Find You?

Once your site is built and launched you need to ensure a steady stream of targeted visitors. Now is the time to start looking at your ongoing marketing and what strategies you’ll need to adopt. Where will your prospects come from? Some to consider:

  • Search engines?
  • Word of mouth & referrals?
  • Offline advertising?
  • Online advertising?
  • Forum participation?
  • Blogging?
  • Other?

The answers to these questions will help you define your marketing strategy and your overall website strategy. For example if you feel search engines will be an important driver of traffic to your website it is vital that that is taken into account when your website is being designed.

By considering the above you’ll be able to put together a clear blueprint detailing your website strategy and how it should be implemented. And in the long run it will help you, and your web designer, create a successful website.

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Under New Management

Seth writes an great post about Under New Management notices:

If I liked your store before, now I’m on notice to be careful–it might not be as good.

If I didn’t like your store before, why on earth am I paying attention to your little sign and why should I go out of my way to take another chance?

If you aren’t reading his blog you should be.

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How Not to Treat Prospective Customers

I recently decided to take the ClickTracks Hosted free 14 day trial. Imagine my surprise when at one of the sign up screens I’m told it’s a 61 day trial. Wow that’s even better, enough time for me to really figure it out and enough time for them to really hook me in.

After sign up I received my first “invoice” which again stated I had a 61 day free trial. So off I went trialing it.

To cut a long story short, as I’m known to ramble, after 14 days I receive the thanks for trying our software, to continue using it you’ll need to pay email. So much for 61 days!

I decided to email them querying the dates and whether I was entitled to the 61 days as my invoice stated. I also suggested that hooking me in for that long makes my continuing all that more guaranteed.

3 or 4 days later I got a email saying the 61 days was an error and it’s actually 14 days. At least they thanked me for bringing it to their attention LOL.

Now ok it was a mistake, but where I come from if you make an offer which for some reason is incorrect you must honor that offer. With the internet being global I guess the same laws don’t apply. The laws of customer service do and for me as much as I like the program it’s left me feeling a bit pissed off. How hard would it have been to say we were wrong and we’ll honor what we told you. What would it have cost them? And I guarantee I would have been hooked after using it for 61 days.

Right now I think I’m gonna keep looking around.

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