There are 1.8 million websites on the internet that range from news and entertainment to selling software. In this blog, I will look specifically at E-commerce and business to business (B2B) companies.
There’s something magical about all the limitless possibilities that a brand-new website can offer your business. It instils an almost childlike desire for creativity in even the most pragmatic of people. And maybe that’s not so strange. After all, most websites are just building blocks of code, reminiscent of tiny digital Lego-blocks, placed intricately on top of one another.
It’s almost impossible not to get caught up in all the cool and exciting things that web design can do – the cool gadgets, the flashy themes, the exciting colour schemes and the latest plugins. But oftentimes the most boring elements are the most important ones. When it comes to web design and a new website, there is one quintessential question you should be prepared to answer…
What is the purpose of my website?
If you’re an E-commerce business or run a Service-Based Business, then everything should start with this fundamental issue. And trust me, it’s far more than just an existential design question.
For some, like news websites, entertainment websites, or blogs, their website purpose is quite straightforward. However, for E-Commerce or B2B businesses, this often requires more consideration.
While the question itself may seem a simple one, it encapsulates the very essence of your digital marketing strategy and should reflect what your aim is, not just in the short-term, but for the next few years. Here are four key strategies you can employ when trying to answer this question.
Tip #1: The answer is never just ‘leads’ or ‘sales.’
It’s the most straightforward answer, which is exactly why it’s almost always the wrong one. After all, reducing the whole purpose of your website down to a revenue statistic is a very one-sided way of looking at your online presence.
Everyone wants leads from their website. But what does that even mean? And how do you measure success?
I always recommend thinking about your website purpose from a more conceptual, rather than financial perspective. Focusing on the problem you solve for consumers, rather than the outcome it represents for your business, is often a good starting point. For example, if you’re a software company, then providing value to app developers and helping them automate processes is a better website outcome than merely selling more products.
And the difference is not just a linguistic one. The first option may sound like just a euphemism of the second, but it opens your business up to a whole host of different micro conversions.
Tip #2: Micro Conversions.
If you want to make life easier for app developers, then you can provide value in countless ways. One of these is obviously your product. But there’s also education, free tips, handy blogs, informative guides, beta products, free trials – the list goes on. Once you re-examine the purpose of your website while considering your customer’s needs and pain-points, you can start to focus on how you can add value, without obsessing over how you can sell more products.
This starts with assessing what kind of micro conversions you need to achieve your goals. A micro-conversion is a stepping stone on the way to a sale or a booking. Sounds reasonable, right? Well, it always does, until you mention that most micro-conversions don’t usually have any monetary value.
This is where most businesses lose interest. In the traditional sales pipeline model, no money equals no lead. Simple as that. But that is starting to change, especially now that omnichannel experiences and multi-channel touchpoints are becoming more common place.
The Sales Funnel is an anachronistic way of doing business. It has been replaced by a circular, process-based model that revolves around engagement and value, one which puts the customer at the centre. And businesses have already started to take advantage of this shift in consumer behaviour. It’s not enough to just have a good product or service, because there’s plenty of others out there that do as well. Engagement and promoting loyalty stem from businesses choosing to step out of their mould and get on an equal playing field with their customers. When you remove the traditional barriers between consumers and sellers, like with personalisation, you allow for different conversations and interactions to take place.
Tip #3: Think about your customers and user experience.
The purpose of most websites should always be to fulfill the needs of a particular demographic. And to do so, you need to understand their needs and desires.
Highlighting what makes you different is hard with just words and flashy pictures. But providing someone with real value is a tangible thing. It speaks volumes about your knowledge and your understanding of their issues.
As a result, it’s crucial that you think about who your customers are. In general there are three personas you should always consider:
- Learner – They are still learning about the service or product that you are offering. In fact, they may have only recently come across it. Learners benefit immensely from valuable and informative content and are likely to be enticed by downloadable guides.
- Shopper – These people are generally ready to make a purchase but are still deciding on what the best options are. They need to be convinced of the value of your offering.
- Buyer – These are the people who are ready to buy either your product or your service. Before you get excited, however, remember that only 5% of people browsing your website are likely to be at the buying stage.
As you can see, challenges arise when attempting to reach all these personas, rather than just the buyer. Consider the User Experience for each of these personas. Analysing and improving elements like your bounce rate and time on page can help you improve the user experience and drive your customers to act. By nurturing the various personas with the right type of content, you can also move them along in their buyer journey. That way, when your customers are ready to buy, they’ll lean towards your business.
Tip #4: Stand out from the crowd.
A website isn’t just about what you’re selling or what you’re trying to say. It should revolve around your ability to meet the needs of your prospective customer, by communicating and connecting with them.
Ultimately, the real purpose of a website is to get a visitor – a stranger who essentially doesn’t know much about you or your business – to take that next step and, more importantly, to feel comfortable doing so. Nothing helps this more than standing out from the crowd and being different from your competitors.