Even for brick-and-mortar stores that don’t do ecommerce, having an online presence is essential these days. According to studies, more than 95 percent of customers check for local businesses online, while more than 90 percent of B2B buyers conduct preliminary research online.
Your website is the online face of your business, the place where potential customers can learn more about who you are and what you do.
Website planning plays a crucial role in laying the foundations for your site’s future success. By considering the many aspects of web development during the early stages, your business will be able to more easily achieve its objectives in the long run. Here are 7 steps toward creating your new website.
Create Buyer Personas
A buyer persona is a representation of your ideal target customer. It is heavily informed by market research, consumer demographics and behavioral segmentation. This combination of quantitative and qualitative data provides valuable insight into your existing or potential customers. Buyer personas provide a clear outline and context for your business, as they simplify content mapping and resource allocation, and set up a template for your team to align themselves with. Informing yourself about your target audience’s lifestyles, challenges, demographic characteristics, motivations and goals will assist you in creating a valuable strategy for attracting online visitors and turning them into customers.
Define Your Overall Marketing Goals
The main goal of your website should be to promote your business and explain the value it brings to your customers. Moreover, the best way to do this is by promoting your business as the best solution for their problems.
Identify a list of goals that blend both your brand’s personal elements and the effects that your customers are looking for in a way that effectively resonates with your ideal customer and their values.
Yes, injecting your personality and personal tastes into your website can help to personalize and humanize your business, but this should be in a way that resonates with your ideal customer.
Your business website should satisfy, engage and retain visitors who can benefit from your business. Identifying your goals for marketing your business will help you stay true to the idea behind the website and make sure that you’re maintaining objectives throughout the web development process.
Map the Buyer’s Journey
The buyer personas help to inform the buyer’s journey. By recognizing their personas, you’ll be able to understand how potential customers move through their buyer’s journey and then create curated content that aligns with every stage of their decision-making process.
- Awareness stage: Once a potential buyer starts expressing symptoms of a problem or an opportunity, it’s important to be aware of how your product or service could assist them at this stage.
- Consideration stage: The potential buyer has a more defined idea of their problem and what a solution could be, along with considering different options. For your success, that means considering your competitors and how their product or service could be optimal to the customer.
- Decision stage: The potential buyer has decided on a solution to their initial problem.
So you’ve established your user personas, looked at your competitors, completed your content inventory and held a couple of card sorting sessions. Now it’s time to take all that lovely, useful data and shape your sitemap.
By this stage it may well be fairly clear what pages your website needs to include and how they should be categorised. You can use a spreadsheet for creating your sitemap, although I recommend creating it in a way that is easy to visualise – Slickplan is a great digital tool for this.
At this stage we recommend completing some user testing to ensure that your sitemap makes sense. Tree testing is perfect for this – it allows you to present the user with a variety of tasks to complete within a simple text-based version of your sitemap. For example, if you are a solicitors firm, one of your tasks may be: “You are going through a divorce and would like to talk to someone about the custody of your children” or “You are buying a house and would like a conveyancing quote”. You can then see if the user finds what they are looking for easily or if they get led down the proverbial garden path!
Research Your Competitors
Checking out what your competitors are up to can be a great source of inspiration, as well as allowing you to identify potential gaps in the market. Have a look at the websites of your main competitors and note down what they do well, what they could be doing better and anything else you can learn from them. Follow the user journey in the mind’s eye of your personas, see how accessible the content is and highlight where you feel frustrated. A word of warning: don’t be sucked in by design for design’s sake. Just because it looks flashy and cool doesn’t necessarily mean it’s useful for your users.
Nail Down Search and SEO Goals
The main goal of SEO is to boost your business’s presence in relevant search engine results. This helps you to earn more leads, sales and revenue, and ultimately grow your business online. Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo prefer websites that are user-friendly. Make sure your site is also optimized for mobile users, void of deadlinks and offers pages that load quickly so potential customers can easily get the answers they need.
From identifying your SEO strategy comes the need to utilize conversions. Conversion Rate Optimization, or CRO, is a process for increasing the number of website users who take a desired action, such as signing up for a mailing list, leaving contact details, or buying a product.
Begin Your Journey with GO2
Building the best website for your business is a heavy task with potentially amazing yields. GO2 Partners has the expertise to help you fulfill your business goals in a digital world. These tips are just some of the best practices that our digital marketing team considers when developing and implementing your online strategy. Call GO2 Partners when your team is ready to take that next step!