Many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) tend to dedicate resources to marketing initiatives that drive traffic to their website, yet are willing to devote little investment in the website itself. Why is this?
Why is the tool that is responsible for converting that very same traffic into customers often neglected? It mainly comes down to a lack of understanding regarding how a website contributes to an overall marketing strategy.
Rather than prioritizing marketing channels that drive traffic, SMBs should focus on their website first, and build the rest of their marketing strategy around it.
There are three reasons for this.
Reason 1: Your Website Represents Your Brand
As an SMB in the digital age, your website represents your brand. As such, it should enhance your organization's image, not detract from it.
If a significant portion of your marketing budget is invested in billboards, television ads, and search marketing campaigns, but you've settled for a poorly designed website, not only is the effectiveness of the overall strategy compromised, but your brand perception is negatively impacted as well. This is an important point because a negative perception of your brand can also impact the potential of doing business with a prospective customer in the future.
When prospective customers visit your website after seeing a compelling television ad or finding your organization on Google, the website's role at this point is to enhance your brand, build value in the product or service you provide, and ultimately convert that visitor into a lead or sale. If the website detracts from your brand and fails to build value, it can actually have the opposite effect and deter the prospective customer from converting.
Reason 2: Prospective Customers Interact With Your Website
When prospective customers interact with your website, they're engaging with your brand. This interaction between a prospective customer and your organization's brand further increases the probability that they will do business with you. It is also an opportunity for your website to build value in your product or service.
In order to achieve this level of engagement, your website should have a professionally designed user-interface and well-written, compelling content that caters to your customers' needs, as well as provides clear calls-to-action.
Conversely, a poorly designed website that neglects to deliver a relevant and compelling message will fail to engage. This lack of engagement can result in lost customers, and again, negative brand perception.
Reason 3: Your Website Facilitates Conversions
After investing all this time and money into marketing efforts that drive traffic to your website, it's ultimately the website's responsibility to convert that traffic into leads or sales. This is where a website-first marketing strategy becomes critical. A website that enhances your brand, builds value in your product or service, and connects with visitors by providing them with relevant and useful content will facilitate conversions, and make your overall marketing strategy more effective.
However, missing one of these key elements can have a detrimental impact on your website's ability to convert. The most effective calls-to-action and enticing incentives will not overcome the negative effects of a cheap website with poorly written content, that fails to connect with your target audience.
Real World Example
To illustrate this concept, let's use a home builder. In this example, the home builder uses a combination of online and offline marketing to garner interest in one of its newest developments. These efforts are doing a great job of directing traffic to the builder's website. However, their website has some issues as our prospective buyer is about to find out.
Our prospective buyer visits the home builder's website for the first time on her iPhone after seeing their billboard on the way to work. She discovers their website is not mobile-friendly, and decides she will try again on her desktop when she gets home from work.
She's finally home, and it takes the website 20 seconds to load, which feels more like 2 hours. Once the website finally finishes loading, her initial thought is that the website isn't nearly as attractive as the billboard she saw earlier, and wonders if it's even the same builder.
She sees they have some floor plans available and decides it's worth taking a look. However, when she clicks on the floor plan to enlarge it, the screen goes blank. Apparently, that feature isn't working.
So, she puts her glasses on and attempts to review the floor plans in their minimized state, but it's too difficult to see the details. She eventually gives up. After all, if this home builder can't afford to build a decent website, how can they build a quality house?
In this example, the home builder's previous marketing efforts were rendered useless because the website didn't represent the brand well, didn't engage the prospective buyer, and ultimately couldn't convert her.
Despite their website, the home builder in this example would most likely still sell homes. However, the questions are had the builder used a website-first marketing strategy and invested in a better quality website, how many more homes would they be selling, and how much money would they be saving on other marketing efforts?
Because your website represents your brand, engages prospective customers, and facilitates conversions, a website-first marketing strategy will make your overall marketing efforts more effective.