Last week we looked at which social media apps work for which audience and for which marketing purpose.
Today let’s address the question about what role your existing website plays in all this social media hubbub.
Back in 2009 when I first began speaking to audiences about the (then) up-and-coming social media wave, I impressed upon them the need to “shatter” their online presence.
What does that mean?
Today’s world of online and digital marketing has made it necessary to be in several (virtual) places at once.
Why? Because not every potential buyer will prefer the same method of contact. Some want to find you on social media, some just want to check out your website and others want to keep in touch via email.
There are websites, blogs, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn profiles and Facebook pages to manage. And that’s not to mention conventional email or e-newsletters that some companies use to distribute information about their products and services.
While it may not be imperative to use every single application or digital tool available (there are almost too many to count), it does remain important to spread your message through more than one communication channel.
So what, specifically, is the role your website should play in your 2012 marketing plan?
While a website is not the end-all be-all proposition it was 10 years ago, it remains a crucial element in your digital marketing toolbox.
Your website in 2012 should be clean, uncomplicated and brutally utilitarian. Gone are the days of background music and dancing bears on your home page.
Your website is the catch-all place for the information that is crucial to your clients – both existing and prospective. Contact info, overview of your offerings, downloadable content (where applicable) and, most importantly, links to the all the other places you “live” in the digital realm (blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, sign-up for e-newsletter, YouTube channel, etc.).
You get the idea. Keep it simple but be thorough.
Sounds like an oxymoron but bear this in mind: What do you like your experience to be when visiting a company’s website?
1. Simple, easy and clear navigation.
No hidden menus, and five-level-deep clicking around to find your desired content. People want to find it quickly and easily. Err on the side of many links that are easily found and clicked, rather than menus nested so deeply your visitor feels like they are on an expedition – they may not be explorers and will end up ditching you for your competition!
2. A home page with a great preview of the site’s content.
Remember: No dancing bears unless you are a traveling circus performer! The main page should get to the point, reveal the site’s offerings and be done with it. A sort of one stop shop for the site.
3. A hub for all the other places on the web where you can be found.
I touched on this above. People want to know where else they can find you. While you don’t need to use every single social media application, be sure the ones you do use are easily seen and linked to from your website. Be careful though about overwhelming your audience. Most times, simple links are the most effective. Don’t forget an e-newsletter sign-up form to harvest those email addresses!
4. A direct way to contact you!
This sounds so obvious but there a few simple things to keep in mind. Your phone number, email and address (if applicable) should be prominent and easily seen on all pages. Keep in mind that many of your site’s visits may be coming through a mobile device such as a smartphone or pad. Unless you have a specially developed mobile site, your contact information should be obvious, and I do mean obvious. Contact forms are great if you are harvesting specific information. However, many people just want to contact you. Period. No messing about. Be sure to give them an easy no-fuss way to do so!
So now you have some ideas of how websites differ from yesteryear in today’s “shattered” marketing strategies. Take a cold hard look at yours and make some changes, if necessary. Your audience wants to find you, but they are impatient, have expectations and are extremely protective of their time. Use the above strategies to make their experience efficient and their view of your company stellar!