It’s not enough anymore to just have a website. The outdated question of how a website works is now overshadowed by the question of why it works (and why it doesn’t work). Regardless of industry, profit-status or audience, there are three foundational purposes that your website has. Accomplishing them is the measure of a successful website and will set your business apart from your competition. Let’s explore these three foundational purposes.
As the hub of all your marketing, your website bears a responsibility to build credibility for your business. The reality is that most people (potential clients) are interacting with your website before they will ever meet you face-to-face. Users will be prone to equate the product and/or service you provide with the quality of your website. And your website should never run the risk of losing potential business. Building credibility on the web boils down to a few core expectations:
Your brand is the face, the very character, of your business. It’s more than just a logo; a consistent brand ties together the look and feel of your website. Your brand should deliver a clear message while making an emotional connection to your users. Good brands build credibility, credibility builds equity, and equity means more value for your business.
Clear Information Architecture
Making the content and flow of your website coherent and easy to use will immediately set you apart from your competition. Why? A majority of the web fails to make information accessible in a way that makes sense. Forrester Research, an independent technology and market research company, says it best: “Websites that are hard to use frustrate customers, forfeit revenue and erode brands.”
Social Media Awareness
There’s a reason we call it a “web presence.” Various social media outlets make building credibility about more than just your website. Being involved within the social media landscape and being aware of how your business is being portrayed within those outlets (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) is crucial to building credibility and being approachable.
Thought Questions: Consider the level of credibility your business’ website exudes and ask yourself, “Does my brand communicate in a consistent and coherent way? Is my website unified and easy-to-use? Can my followers and potential clients access my website via social media outlets (and vice versa)?
Hand-in-hand with credibility comes the need for your website to establish expertise—our second website purpose. If you have a product or service to offer, you’re website should clearly articulate what you do, how you do it and why you provide that product or service better than anyone else. Future clients are looking for someone they can trust. And truth be told, within the ever-growing expanse of the worldwide web, it’s becoming harder and harder to be trusted, let alone be found.
Therefore, the integration of a content strategy via a “blog” within your website is critical. Developing this plan for consistently posting unique and expert advice about your service will target the audience that’s looking for you. Establishing expertise on your website will not only increase your search-engine friendliness, but will deepen your followers’ trust in your business.
Thought Questions: When looking at your current website from the perspective of your clients, ask yourself, “Does this business know what they are talking about? Can I trust them?”
Assuming you’re driving people to your credible and easy-to-use website with expert content and keeping them interested, your website’s third purpose is to produce leads. This means generating future client relationships and potential sales.
An effective website doesn’t just capture attention, but compels your users to want to know more about your business, while at the same time giving them an outlet to access further information. We call this outlet a “Call to Action.” The term speaks for itself. A call to action can take different forms, whether it be to “Sign up for our Email Newsletter,” or “Contact Us Today,” or “Buy Our New Book.” The end goal, however, is the same—produce new business. By making yourself, your knowledge and your products available on your website, you’re giving your users some form of interaction and inaugurating a new relationship.
Thought Questions: How are you producing leads from your website by calling your website’s users to action? Does your website sacrifice or generate potential business?
Ask yourself, “Why do I have a website?” Why questions give us insight into what we are thinking about. Businesses would do well to recover this pursuit of purpose. Please share in the comments below your answers to some of the questions we’ve asked. In your experience, what other purposes should an effective, marketing-smart website accomplish?