You can find plenty of tactics on the Internet on how to attract people to your website. But, tactics are only as good as the strategy behind them. Tactics are actions you take to handle specific issues. Strategy is the guiding force that helps you know what tactics you need to use. Without a good strategy, your website and online presence will never meet your goals. A website redesign offers the perfect opportunity to create a strong, effective strategy. If you are going to focus on either strategy or tactics, you need to invest your efforts on first instead of second.
Here are four ways you can invest in your digital strategy during your website redesign:
This is something many companies fail to do. They will go to great lengths to design a website with all the bells and whistles. They will create elaborate graphics and web presentations. But, when it comes to the basic strategy of identifying the ideal customer, it doesn't seem to happen.
Identifying your ideal customer allows you to focus your efforts on meeting their needs and creating a destination they will want to visit and return to multiple times.
After identifying your ideal customer, you need to get to know what they need. In today's inbound marketing world, customers are coming to your website based on what they want to find. You need to know what they are trying to find.
When you do that, you can attract them to your website and present your products as a solution to their needs. That is the core of a modern digital strategy.
Every company needs to differentiate itself from its competition. Whether you are facing local competitors or Internet competition, your company needs to know its identity first.
You may offer the same products or services as your competition, but you can differentiate your company with things like excellent customer service, unique offerings, and custom combinations. Knowing what makes your company different allows you to build a strategy with that knowledge built-in.
If you do not have traffic analytic tools running on your site, you are missing out on the kind of information that is priceless for marketing strategy. If you have these tools, take time to look at past traffic analytics.
This information is priceless for building a smart strategy.
- You will learn if people are coming to your website from search engines, direct links, or their bookmarks.
- You will learn whether users are coming from desktop/laptops, smart phones, or tablets.
- You will see which of your web pages are most popular and which are not.
- You will find out where your customers live, down to the city level.
Investing in your digital strategy will lay the ground work for a successful digital marketing campaign. Tactics will give you the edge in particular situations. Your website redesign and new digital strategy will help you become the top company in your particular market.
Email marketing has been a part of online marketing efforts for years now. But, Internet users have become extremely leery of it. They do not want to get a email box full of spam from a company that they visited once. Website visitors have become more and more hesitant of providing their email addresses to any website.
If you are lucky enough to get the email address of a customer or a lead, you need to use it carefully. Sending too many emails or low quality ones will backfire and get people to drop you from their email. If you are doing a website redesign, you should update your email marketing efforts to coincide.
Here are a few tips on how to get better results with email marketing:
These tips show you how you can make your email marketing campaigns be more effective. With a few changes to your email marketing, you should see more leads coming in and more leads converting to sales. That can interlock beautifully with your website redesign efforts. Give your marketing a new face and a new strategy.
How are your online marketing results doing? Anyone who runs a business online needs to have an eye on how well their marketing efforts are going. If you have not done so recently, you need to take a look. You may be surprised that your current efforts are not giving you the results you want. If you are thinking about doing a website redesign, improving your online marketing results should be a primary goal for the effort.
Here are five ways to improve your online marketing results:
1. Better Calls to Action
A call-to-action is any action you want the visitor to take while on your site. Simply putting a button on the page is not enough. If you want your visitors to do something specific, such as share their name and email address, you have to give them a reason to do so. Using better calls to action will improve your lead numbers and give you leads from highly qualified visitors.
2. Amazing Landing Pages
Landing pages give your visitors a special place to come to rest on your site. They have likely done a search on Google or a similar search engine and came across your site as one of interest. Ideally, your landing pages should target a specific keyword or product. For example, if you sell auto parts, you may need a landing page for each part manufacturer or car brand. Landing pages need to address the specific needs the customer is looking for and hint at much more available on the rest of the site.
3. Lead Nurturing
With good landing pages and better calls to action, you will likely see your lead numbers going up. And the quality of those leads is going to be higher. The next step in your online marketing efforts is lead nurturing. You want to nurture leads so they become sales. You need to build trust with your leads by building a relationship with them. That happens through quality content and social media interaction.
4. Have a Great Blog
You may already have a blog that you update on occasion. But, when doing a website redesign, it is the time to take your average blog to the next level. Blogs offer so many opportunities to build relationships with leads, new visitors, and existing customers. The most important things to remember with a blog is provide quality content, regular updates, and make your visitors want to come back to see what else you might have to offer. Read: Facts about Blogs
5. Participate in Social Media
You may have been avoiding going on Facebook or using Twitter. Social media is not a passing fad. It is a force you should embrace. If you want to improve your online marketing efforts, you need to embrace at least a few social media channels. As part of your redesign, integrate them into your website and your marketing efforts. You will start to develop a following and those followers are more likely to share your company with others.
A website redesign is the perfect time to take a fresh look at your online marketing strategy. It offers an opportunity to see how you are currently doing and set goals on where you want to go. With those goals in mind, you can get going with your redesign efforts and see the results you expect.
Improving your online marketing strategy should be a part of any website redesign effort. One important part of this is to define your target customer. When you understand your ideal customer, you can refine your website, its content, and the SEO efforts around it. Those efforts will get highly qualified customers to start visiting your website.
How can you define your ideal customer?
The best approach is actually to ask your customers some questions. Ask some of your best customers to fill out a survey. If you cannot ask these questions of your customers or do not want to bother them with a survey, you need to answer them yourself.
Here are some questions to get you thinking about your target customer:
All of this information gives you insight into the target audience you want to attract to your website. What you may find is that you have more than one target customer. Many companies offer services or products that take in multiple groups of people. Identifying all of your ideal customers helps refine your online message. Ask these questions of a wide range of customers before you website redesign to find out if you have more than one ideal type.
When going through a website redesign, you need your target audience clearly defined before you begin the design process. What you learn with those questions will guide your content, your SEO focus, and even your color/theme choices. Take the time up front and give your redesign the focus you want.
A professional website redesign is more than just adding new graphics and a new color scheme to your current site. You need to look at where you are now and decide where you want to go with the new design. You need to know what you like and what you do not like. You need to know what your competition is up to and how you want to counter that. All of this is part of a solid redesign effort.
To help focus your efforts, here is a seven-point checklist for your website redesign:
You can use this checklist to prepare for your redesign. Take the time up front to get the information gathered and to choose the right web agency. It might seem like a lot to do, but the effort is well worth it when you seen your new website premiere.
Can you pinpoint the year your website went live? It might be the year you opened your business. It might be a decade ago when you realized you needed some sort of web page. It might be five years ago when you upgraded your single web page to a multi-page site. No matter when that website appeared, you need to consider a website redesign every two to three years to stay up on modern design and technology.
Here are five things you need to make sure are part of your next website redesign:
1. Mobile Responsiveness
Mobile devices are rapidly overtaking both laptops and desktops for web browsing. If your website is not friendly to mobile browsing, consumers will go elsewhere. When you are doing a redesign, it is very important to make sure your website works well on the smaller browser windows of a smart phone or a tablet.
2. Optimized Landing Pages
In the past, most visitors would enter your site through the home page. Today, that is not the case. You can have multiple entry points to your website. These landing pages offer a place for people to look at specific information you are offering. Let's say you offer car parts for both new and old cars. You can have a landing page for new cars and a separate one for old ones. These landing pages have a design optimized to gather traffic and route it into your larger site.
3. Clear Call-to-Actions Throughout
Vague requests and mild requests do not do the job when it comes to gathering leads and getting sales on your website. Your website needs clear calls to action parsed throughout the entire site. If you want to get lead information, your landing page should guide the visitor to do that. If you want visitors to check out your catalog of products, then a banner pointing to it is a good way to direct that activity.
You may already have a blog. If you do not, you need to add one in your website redesign. Some people think that blogs are fading away. The reality and facts about blogs is that they are not going anywhere. People like to read entries that interest them. They will follow blogs of companies they like to get information on new products and services, to get tips, and to get ideas for new projects. This is a great way to connect with existing and new customers.
5. Social Media Integration
Do you have a company Twitter and Facebook account? Social media is something almost every company needs to use. Social media is here to stay and a smart company will maximize its use to promote new products/services, to introduce discounts, to award loyal customers, and to offer tips and ideas.
BONUS - Professional Design
Do not let your website design fall into the hands of amateurs. Your web credibility is more important than you think. A new visitor makes assumptions about your company based on your website. If your website is professional looking, works smoothly, and looks slick, the visitor is more likely to give lead information or to consider making a purchase. If your site is unprofessional or looks sloppy, people make the assumption your company is unprofessional or just doesn't care.
Take your website design seriously. Make sure you integrate the features into your site to grabthe attention of new visitors and to keep the interest of existing ones. Leave the design work to the professionals to make the best impression possible. It is an effort that pays off in the end.
Redesigning a website is a major decision for your company. But, all company websites need a revamp at least once every two to three years to stay fresh and current with technology. When you are ready, there are a few things you can do to make this effort worth the time and money.
Here is a list of six things to remember when preparing for a website redesign:
Use these recommendations to make your website redesign a fresh restart for your business. You will find the time, money, and effort well worth it when you have professionals at your side during the entire process.
In 2000, I made the following prediction at the CIC Forum in Washington DC:
“Mobile phones will morph into ‘widgets’ (wireless internet devices for geo-positioning, ecommerce and telecommunication).”
I went on to forecast that our phones will become web browsers, “Walkmen” (iPods were not invented yet), still/video cameras, GPS systems, email managers, calendar/contact managers, micropayment systems and more.
Here is the actual slide shown at the conference:
What fueled my interest was the potential that mobile applications held for meetings. Meetings are mobile and inherently in need of mobile technology to manage event data!
What a difference a decade makes! All these predictions have come true and mobile apps are now the hottest line of software development. There are hundreds of direct applications for events, tradeshows, associations and venues. Here are several of the significant ones.
Multipurpose conference applications:
These “Swiss army knife” applications provide multiple tools bundled in one application:
Quick mobile was the mobile application for the MPI MeetingDifferent and will be for the MPI WEC. It also used at major film festivals including Sundance and Tribeca. Features include: full conference schedule, personal agenda building, area guide (with Frommer’s integration), search capabilities for attendees/speakers/exhibitors, integration with social media including Twitter/Facebook/Pathable and messaging. They build apps for the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android and mobile web providing greater ease of use than companies that provide only mobile web versions.
Follow Me www.core-apps.com
Follow Me was the mobile app for the 2010 Consumer Electronic Show, one of the largest shows in the tradeshow industry. Features include a full conference schedule, personal agenda builder, maps, exhibit hall way-finding (you are a dot on the map), course notes/literature pick-up, session alerts, Twitter integration, and sponsorship revenue sharing. They also build native apps for the major smart phones ( iPhone, Android, Blackberry) and mobile web for the rest.
Similar to QuickMobile and Follow Me, EventKaddy provide native apps for most smart phones. Shows include the large 2010 Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas, Features include full conference listings, customized attendee agenda building, attendee networking tools, interactive floor plans/maps, multimedia listings for exhibitors, digital coupons/brochures/course notes (in .pdf), conference alerts from show organizer to attendees, with extensive metrics.
EMA provides multiple-platform mobile web applications (iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and mobile web) including conference agenda, exhibit directory, conference alerts, hotel information, local area resources, attendee messaging and social media integration.
Zerista is as an online networking/ business matchmaking tool, but as now put much of their emphasis on mobile networking apps. Their mobile community application Zerista Pro was used at the Mobile World Congress with more than 20,000 users. Features include mobile web meeting scheduler, attendee directory, personal profiles, attendee matching, social media integration (Twitter/Facebook), personal scheduler, full agenda, exhibitor directory, booth locator, virtual booths, floor plans, and local guides.
Event Media Concept’s Mobile Conciergewww.eventmediaconcepts.com
Mobile web applications providing conference agenda, exhibit directory, conference alerts, hotel information with GPS mapping/star ratings, local area resources with GPS mapping, attendee messaging and social media integration. Mobile web applications tend to be slower and not as user-friendly as native applications built for specific phones. On the plus side, nothing needs to be downloaded to have it work.
VisionTree is a service company focusing primarily on the pharmaceutical industry. They provide mobile handsets similar to an audience polling service which can be supplemented by attendees mobile phones. Features include audience polling, text Q&A, feedback forms, conference agenda, speaker bios.
A2ZInc’s ChirpE www.a2zinc.net
A2ZInc has been a pioneer in web-based exhibit floor plan sales, mapping and management providing services for more than 600 shows per year. They are also developing a mobile application called ChirpE. This mobile web application includes a full conference agenda, event alerts, exhibit guide, exhibit floor plan, social media integration with LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter, and personalized agenda building.
A2Z has gone to great lengths to build a mobile platform that will work well with other mobile and web apps including strong matchmaking tools. They have also built some of the best social media integration and aggregation tools for mobile apps for the events industry.
This is another mobile web-based product with agenda, exhibitor information, basic surveys, searchable attendee list, basic city guide, and SMS alert sign-up.
Mission Software http://event-master.com/mobile_phone_service_key_features.html
Mission Software, based in the UK, has Mobile Phone Service providing a range of mobile web and on-demand text services for events including agendas, exhibit information, travel info, SMS messaging, and SMS voting.
Text messaging event information services:
Text messaging has some advantages. It is cheap, is accessible on virtually all mobile phones. Here are two similar products incorporating this technology:
SNIPP www.snipp.com and XIPP www.xnip.comn
These two nearly identical products work like this: Identify everything of interest at an event (people, exhibit products, exhibit booths, course notes, articles, weblinks, etc.) with a unique ID code (e.g. A345B). Then text message this ID code to 76477 (S-N-I-P-P) for Snipp or 29292 (for Xnip). Then attendees can access the information collected anytime via a personal web page at the Snipp.com or Xnip.com websites. This provides inexpensive, paperless, and digital ways of accessing event information.
Audience polling and surveys:
Audience polling devices are a great way of stimulating attendee interaction and finding out what they are thinking. However, traditional keypads can be beyond the budget for many events (from $3-12/person/dar). Phone based polling/survey systems, although not as fast or capable as keypads, can be right for some events.
Traditional surveys methods are problematic. Paper surveys are inefficient in tallying and end in landfills. Web surveys often are captured days after the event when impressions are cold often resulting a low response rate. Alternatively, mobile survey tools are low-cost, low in environmental impact, efficient in data collection and capture the data while the impressions are fresh.
Here are several mobile survey products:
iPod and iPad applications for surveys, data collection, prize give aways, presentation tools, and metric tools with applications for meetings and trade shows.
Validar is primarily an exhibitor lead management/intelligence company. Their SMS Survey product provides text messaging surveys at events. Ask attendees questions about the keynote speaker or solicit advice on which sessions met expectations and which fell short. Attendees can respond to surveys using any SMS-enabled device, such as a PDA, cell phone, or smart phone. This system has the capability to ask answer several questions with one text message, making it more convenient survey tool than those using a separate text message for every question.
Similar to Validar, Zuku provides low-cost text messaging (SMS) polling and Q&A. Responses can be projected live.
Plug and Poll (www.plugandpoll.com)
Plug and Poll is a Dutch firm providing similar SMS polling services.
PollEverywhere provides SMS polling and Q&A sessions. They also integrate with Twitter and mobile web responses, and, as with standard audience polling systems, results can be projected live. These polling questions can be integrated directly into a PowerPoint program making it easy for a speaker to use it. Try it for free for up to 30 responses.
Traditional lead retrieval is one-way (from attendee to exhibitor), location bound (at the exhibit booth), and expensive for the exhibitor. Mobile lead exchange provides two-way, less expensive, digital ways to exchange contact information anywhere at the event.
DUB – Mobile Business Card Networking www.dubmenow.com
This app was used at the South-By-Southwest 2010 (SXSW), the same Music and Media conference where Twitter debuted two years ago. This app works with iPhone and Blackberry (with Android, and Window Mobile Media coming) to exchange electronic business cards. It allows you to locate people near you at a conference or send your card via SMS or email. This automatically syncs with your phone address book and updates to contacts are updatee automatically. It also integrates with LinkedIn and Twitter.
Bartizan’s iLeads www.bartizan.com/index.php?id=62
Bartizan has been a traditional lead retrieval service for more than 30 years. Their new iPhone app is a tacit admission that the traditional lead retrieval model is on the way out. iLeads is an iPhone/iPad app giving each attendee at a tradeshow a unique 4-6 digit code printed in 16pt.font on their name badge. Those with access to the iLeads database (usually exhibitors) log into a specific event on their iPhone, type in attendee’s 4-6 digit code, and then can see (and record) the full contact information. There are built in qualifier questions, seven standard action codes and an area for notes. All leads are date/time stamped and, using the phone cam, a contact’s photo also can be attached.
Digital show guides:
A primary focus for these apps are on the exhibitor information and floor plan:
Interactive maps, schedules, and exhibitor info for the iPhone and iTouch sold through the iTunes store.
Member management for associations:
Associations are moving to use mobile tools to provide member services. The major association management companies are expanding their product lines to include these options. Here is a stand-alone one:
A range of membership and association mobile web management tools including member directory with full contact info, member photos, personal contacts, special interest groups, staff roster/contacts, and member alerts.
This will likely be a hot development area where meeting planners will be able to access all online event registration and housing data through their mobile phones.
Otto is one such example. Veteran designers from the pioneer meetings technology company SeeUThere have built a revolutionary attendee management/online registration product. It has full mobile integration so planners can access all attendee/housing data from an iPhone. The registration product is free for the first month and then only $49/month thereafter with no transaction fees.
Venue and Location Concierges
These applications are designed for the venues to provide to attendees or hotel guests:
This nicely designed iPhone application helps conference attendees at convention centers. The “myBCEC” app designed for the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is a good example of what other venues could do. The app contains a full, interactive venue map, local area restaurant/services information, the event calendar for the facility (with Twitter event hashtag links), transit information (including airport departures, traffic alerts, directions, parking information, subway alerts), a wide range of information about the venue (venue twitter feed, lost & found), and exhibitor information (utilities, AV, F&B, cleaning, etc.).
RunTriz is a pocket concierge for hotels. Hotel guests can order room service, view the drink menu, contact housekeeping, receive messages from the hotel front desk, schedule a wake-up call, arrange transportation, and view local shopping, restaurants and nightlife. If you don’t have an iPhone, participating hotels will loan you an iTouch.
Geovative GeoTours (www.geovative.com)
Geovative provides destination marketing using multimedia GPS tours with mobile apps.
Micropayment Systems/Near Field Communication:
Near Field Communication (NFC) is a short-range (about 4 in.) wireless communication standard used in Europe. Primarily designed for making quick payments, residents of Estonia, for example, can tap their phones on a parking meter or at a rapid-transit turnstile, making a immediate and easy transaction form the ‘e-wallet’ stored on their phone. Nokia and Samsung are among the phone manufacturers that currently offer NFC and there are rumors that the next generation of iPhone will have it as well. NFC provides great potential for meetings including lead exchange, electronic ticketing, and micropayments. If the new iPhone adopts this standard, NFC will become huge in the tradeshow arena.
ITN International (www.itn-international.com)
ITN, a high-end registration company, is a pioneer in using NFC for events and tradeshows. They provide innovated capabilities for attendee tracking, lead data collection, event micropayment systems and more.
Consumer mobile apps with event applications:
Although this article focuses on event-specific mobile applications, there are few consumer app that bear a brief mention:
Foursquare www.fourquare.com and Gowalla www.gowalla.com
These location-aware mobile applications allow people to check-in at a location to network with others and to share with friends. Although originally used in restaurants, bars, etc. these are starting to be used for events. Both were used at the 2010 South By Southwest Music and Media Conference in Austin.
iPhone app to share contact information and photos.
WebEx Meeting Center http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cisco-webex-meeting-center/id298844386?mt=8
iPhone app to tap into schedule, attend and start WebEx online meetings
iPhone task management
Google Goggles www.google.com/mobile/goggles
Built for Android phones, this product holds great promise for augmented reality applications. Simply point your phone cam at a restaurant or other object, and get a link to the website. Take a picture of a business card and it converts it to data in your mobile contacts… And much more!
These are just a few! There are likely hundreds more meeting-specific applications on the way and tens of thousands of consumer mobile apps that can help attendees, meeting planners, exhibitor and meeting suppliers at events and tradeshow. Finally, these ‘widgets” have become a reality and much more will come.
Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP is a professional speaker and consultant focusing on meetings technology. With 20 years of experience running international citywide technology meetings, he now helps clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity He can be contacted at his extensive web site: www.corbinball.com.