Keeping your business competitive is tough enough before you start thinking about marketing in a world of websites, even for technically capable firms. Most of us want to stay focused on what we do best, running our businesses, rather than updating the back end of the company website. Although we may realize that a quality website could push our business from good to great, it is still not what any business owner wants to do. When Marketing RELEVANCE designs a website or performs a marketing audit we look at five main components to assess the effectiveness of the website. These five areas are essential in today’s website and technical marketing environment.
- Be Where They Are: Mobile-Friendly
The smartphone adoption rate has been the fastest in technology history. Nearly everyone has a smart phone in their pocket; a device equipped with GPS, web browsing capability and instant communication to anyone and anywhere in the world. According to Google, consumers search more from their mobile phones today than from their desktop computers. Companies that want to stay competitive need to ensure their websites are mobile-friendly (and today mobile-friendly means responsive). Mobile-friendly sites need to load fast, in 5 seconds or less. The images need to be optimized for mobile, the colors and design need to be thoughtful and effective, and the site needs to be “finger-friendly,“ easily navigated by the touch or swipe of a finger. These sites also feature bigger buttons, limited scrolling and easy searches. But they must also be built with responsive design. A responsive site is built to display on different devices with adapted resolutions and screen sizes. Screen real estate on a mobile phone is minimal compared to a desktop computer, and today’s web design addresses mobile capability first to display the content effectively for each screen size.
- Can They Find You If They Don’t Know You: Search Friendly
Having a sleek mobile site won’t help anyone if search engines don’t show it on the first page of two of search results. We check every page of our websites to make sure they are naturally populated with search terms that yield results. We want the sites we build to be found, so they can point potential customers to our client’s sites. Search engines, Google especially, prefer to list a single website in search results rather than listing both a desktop and a mobile version of the same site (responsive design). Building the same site keeps the ”SEO juice” on a single site instead of sharing it across multiple sites, which strengthens the effectiveness of the site as a whole. In addition, spending time on the copy and wording of pages will make sure businesses can be seen as experts in their field. Because search engines update their algorithms frequently, optimization is not a one-time thing. It takes time and needs to be done monthly to be effective. Hiring an agency with a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert makes sense. SEO experts refine search terms and phrases and keep up to date with the changes.
- Sexy Bling That Sells: Visually Appealing and Actionably Effective
This is perhaps the most nebulous and subjective guideline, different people find different things appealing. A busy site with broken links and disorganized navigation is the enemy of businesses and users alike. The goal is to keep users on the site to get what they’re looking for. We counsel clients to select a limited, cohesive color scheme, to use bright, high-resolution images and to provide consistent branding across all pages and sites; allow the visuals to be part of the story. But pretty isn’t everything. Websites need to earn their keep by creating a call to action, whether it’s filling out an information request, joining a mailing list or visiting the business. All those actions, or Google analytics’ events, need to be tracked and monitored each month so that decisions can be made to improve the effectiveness of the site. Only by understanding the analytic reports can effectiveness and improvements be made.
- What Can They Do When They Get There: Interactivity
Our “real” lives spill into our social media channels, and customers are no different. Good or bad, people will share their experiences in a Twitter rant, a Facebook review, or an Instagram photo. They like to share valuable information, and we want them to find value in our websites. We make it easy for visitors to share from our sites by creating buttons, short links and thumbnails. Interactivity on social media is a two-way street. When clients post about us or ask a question, a positive, timely response is vital. We live in the interactive age; our websites need to as well.
- Did They Find Everything Without “Trying”: Intuitiveness, Friendliness and Expertise
A mobile-friendly, search optimized, gorgeously interactive website is nothing if the content is drab, outdated or incomplete. Effective websites attract and maintain attention because the content is top-notch. Everything from directions to the business to blog posts to the contact form needs to stand out with crisp, clear writing. Every link and page must lead the potential customer to the right places. Each page, post, sentence and image needs to showcase the expertise of the business the website represents. Anything less is a waste of a powerful tool.
Marketing RELEVANCE is an expert in auditing existing sites for these top five components, and in building or rebuilding them. We develop websites so our clients can stay focused on making their clients happy. See our portfolio here, or contact us to see what we can do for you.