Visibility, Engagement, and Conversion. These are the three pillars of effective website marketing I started writing about in 2007. A great deal has changed since then but the basic premise behind these has not. Let's dive into each and learn how building a fundamental understanding of each layer can help you become a better marketer. I'll expand on each of these in greater detail in future posts so we'll keep these somewhat light for now. At this point, it's the big picture that counts.
This layer is about getting found by becoming more visible. You can become more visible by leveraging both internal and external tactics. Internal tactics take advantage of resources that you have immediate control over. External tactics can be influenced but not controlled.
On-Page Search Engine Optimization - Using your site's content management system (CMS) you can follow on-page SEO best practices and gain a foothold (no, a toe hold) into better search results. Title tags, H1 tags, ALT tags, common keyword phrases, and more should be easily modified to meet your keyword strategy. If not, you should think about finding a CMS that let's you do that easily.
- Blogging - this is a must. If you don't have a blogging strategy in place then you should probably abandon your efforts until you do. A regular blog post is like a new coat of paint that keeps things fresh and inviting.
- Email Marketing - the tried and true vehicle for many a marketing professional. Email marketing not only promotes your products and services it also provides regular touch points to a core group of individuals. Building your list correctly, however, involves all three layers at first. Yet once you start a list you can then leverage it and control content distribution.
Links - links are still an important indicator for search engines and represent the bridges between sites. Getting reputable sites to link to your content is as valuable now as it was 10 years ago but search engines are very crafty in detecting link building schemes so be careful. Learn from the best.
Social Sharing - Another way to build your visitor base is through social media channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, and more. These are like being at a party and meeting someone new, then having that person introduce you to someone else, and then to someone else. Build your base one meaningful contact at a time then others can share with their own network and create expansive reach on your behalf. But only if your content is worthy of sharing.
- Advertising - traditional offline advertising (direct mail, radio, tv, billboards, etc) can still help drive traffic to your website where you can offer more personalized attention. Online ads work in much the same way but result in immediate click-throughs.
This layer involves capturing and holding the attention of visitors who come to your site with the intent of eventually converting them into whatever the next level is in your customer lifecycle. Engagement is all about content and nothing else.
Relevant, Engaging Content - You have a core constituency and within that core there are triggers that will engage them and hold their attention. Few know what those triggers are better than you. Don't write garbage just for the sake of adding more content. Keep it consistent, keep it relevant, and keep it engaging for your readers.
Titles - No, not title tags, actual titles. Titles are often your first impression so make them count so you can capture your prospects' attention. If you haven't checked out Robert Bly's The Copywriter's Handbook, you should. It's a little dated but it is effective and time tested. You could also get some help from the Article Title Generator just for fun.
Responsive - This has been the new buzz word in website marketing for the last two or three years. It basically means that your site can be effectively consumed on desktop, tablet, and handheld devices - i.e. it responds and adapts to the screen size for the most optimal experience. It also means that you're maintaining content in one place, making your job a lot easier.
- Usability - Always a factor in how users engage your website (this includes responsive). A cluttered, difficult to navigate site will bounce more visitors regardless of how amazing the content is. Be sure to seek the advice of professionals if you're unfamiliar with sound layout and navigational techniques.
Conversion is the top line goal of any website marketing plan. A conversion is simply moving from one level in the customer lifecycle to the next. This could be:
- Buying a product or service
- Downloading a white paper
- Making a donation
- Signing up for a newsletter
- Watching a video
- Reading a case study
- Playing a game
There are four primary steps for driving conversions.
Define Goals - Keep your goals simple at the beginning, such as:
"I want to grow my email newsletter subscriber count"
"I want to sell more class A widgets"
"I want people to sign up for a free home security audit"
Give - provide content in exchange for visitor information. You should give more than you take and keep the take very limited because visitors are weary to give too much information.
Measure - put in place mechanisms that report both successful and failed conversions.
- Report - review reports regularly so you can tweak your calls-to-action and create a system of continual improvement.