Advertising can have a lot of moving pieces. For instance, you need to know which channels suit the best audience, have a strategy for your creative, and lay out a calendar to ensure all your marketing works harmoniously toward your business goals. But there’s one investment that you need to make before you start buying ad spots and launching campaigns — a well-designed website. In today’s post, we’ll break down the qualities of a good website and explore why it’s so important to have this done first.
Simply having a website isn’t enough. It needs to be designed with a number of things in mind if you want to make it a solid investment for your marketing strategy.
Your business needs to have a website that provides a polished, professional experience to everyone that visits it. It is essentially the same as a brick-and-mortar storefront. What will their first impression be? Don’t let the answer be “outdated” or worse.
Your website needs to be designed with your target audience in mind. Using long-tail keywords will raise your brand’s discoverability in search engines, but focusing content around those keywords also helps customers see they’re in the right place. Be sure to read up on current SEO best practices. On a technical level, make sure that your images and videos are optimized to load quickly.
If your site looks professional but is so disorganized and clunky that visitors can’t find what they’re looking for, they won’t hesitate to leave your site and look somewhere else. Make information that’s commonly looked for — like your contact information — easy to find. Also be sure that it’s easy to navigate between different sections of your site. This is especially true if you have a digital store; the more difficult it is for a customer to check out, the more likely they are to abandon their cart.
In response to the fact that more smartphones were used to make searches than computers, Google introduced the mobile-friendly signal ranking a couple of years ago. This refers to a specific set of criteria, including how quickly your page loads, the font size when displaying on mobile devices, and whether or not the layout provides enough space to navigate with a finger. Failing to meet this criteria means your page is downranked and your quality score is lowered, which can have serious impacts on your ROI. Google is getting ready to respond to the fact that mobile traffic is accelerating, so it’s time to catch up if you haven’t yet.
Your website provides all the room you need to tell your brand story and make your message loud and clear in ways that ads simply don’t have the time or space for. That also makes it the perfect place to start capturing leads. Each advertising campaign should probably have a landing page attached, and those pages should have calls-to-action that move the lead along to the next step in conversion. Other CTAs should be featured in your site as well, pointing towards valuable content, information about promotions, and elements that give you broader contact with the lead (e.g., collecting information when they sign up for a newsletter or download a white paper).
Not everyone that visits your site is a lead, and even some leads simply aren’t ready to convert. But chances are good that many people that visit your site could be a lead. Give them a reason to trust your brand by adding value to their experience. Sometimes this should be free, like reading your company blog or watching product demonstrations. However, some content can also drive lead generation; people only want to exchange their information for something they think is valuable.
Your brand identity should be something you’ve already developed before you even thought about advertising. Who your company is and how you solve customer problems is just as important as your colors and your logo. A website can encompass all of these things, which makes it a critical element of your branding. What’s more, this plays a direct role within your advertising campaign.
1. First, it can reinforce the messaging from your advertising campaigns. This improves consistency and adds another potential touchpoint in a non-linear path to purchase. This should include landing pages that specifically discuss what’s featured in your ads, especially if you’re running any kind of digital advertising. If you can feature specialty URLs for those pages that are short and easy to remember, that’s even better — they can be featured in traditional advertising as well. Furthermore, the website makes your brand and your message easy to find if a customer wants to look for you later, and not as soon as they’re exposed to your ad.
2. Second, as we mentioned above, your site can provide much, much more information than simply what was offered in the ad. You can discuss topics that influence brand choices, such as shared values, or educate the visitor about how your product or service works. This, in turn, provides more opportunities to connect with the visitor (i.e., coming back for more information or content), as well as direct opportunities to connect with the visitor again on other mediums (e.g., a newsletter, social media links).
3. Last but certainly not least, your website is a link in the attribution chain that lets you clearly track some of the results from your ads. Traffic to a landing page, for example, would directly reflect how many people clicked on an ad or used a certain URL. Be sure to tap into your website analytics — it’ll also let you see how much time they spent on your site and other pertinent information that lets you understand what they’re most interested in or what made them leave. Promotional codes — for instance, featured in a radio or magazine ad for a discount or bonus item — that are entered in forms can also be tracked, which not only lets you see which ads in general influence customers, but which customers specifically were influenced by a particular type of ad.
As you can see, having a website before you start advertising is the smart choice. It provides the functionality you need to capture and nurture leads, while also giving you some of the data you need to fully determine the ROI of your advertising campaigns. Its versatility also allows you to provide value and information for both current and prospective customers, no matter where they are in their path to purchase. Use our tips and list of the qualities of a good website to ensure your site is up to the task.