What Is The Purpose Of Your Website? Brad Shorr
What is the purpose of your company website? If you can’t answer that question clearly, there’s a good chance you’re squandering your best online asset. And even if you can answer the question, if you’re off the mark you’ll wind up with the same result — an underperforming or even counterproductive site. Don’t let that happen to you!
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Established companies frequently drift into purposelessness because they launched a site when the Internet was new, and from then on have never given it much strategic thought. Over time, their sites have become Frankenstein monsters of patched-together tactics: a little e-commerce here, a little lead generation there, a lot of “look at me!” content everywhere.Newer companies struggle with purpose for the opposite reason: too much strategic thinking. These days you can’t open your browser without bumping into a hundred blog posts about how to do this with your site and how to do that with your site. A business that’s paying attention can easily reach the conclusion that if its site isn’t as complex as the genetic code, it will be a woefully inadequate business tool.
How do you begin to shape a purposeful company website? Old or new, your best bet is to keep it simple. Basically, you have three strategic options:
- Sell products and services
- Generate leads
- Establish credentials
Option 1, an e-commerce site, requires the biggest development and marketing budgets. It produces direct revenue and measurable profit, as well as sales leads.
Option 2, a lead-generation site, can be developed and marketed for less (generally speaking), but still requires a hefty investment. It produces qualified, trackable sales leads.
Option 3, a credentials site, is the simplest and least expensive option. It makes a good impression on people who know who you are, but won’t help you find new leads or customers.
How do you know which option is right for you? A lot of factors go into that decision, with budget being one of the most important (which I’ll cover in my next post). For now, suffice to say that many companies have lead-generation ambitions but only a credentials budget.
Other major factors to consider:
- [size=; font-size: inherit,inherit]The nature of your business. A law firm specializing in antitrust cases probably won’t attract leads from Google search or pay-per-click ads. On the other hand, the firm needs to make a solid impression on potential clients who have already heard of it. In contrast, a law firm specializing in personal injury cases will most definitely be able to generate leads on Google. The antitrust firm has better things to spend money on than a lead-generation site; for the personal injury firm, such a site could make all the difference in the world.
- [size=; font-size: inherit,inherit]The geographic scope of your business. A credentials site makes sense for a local art gallery. But suppose the gallery wants to market its art regionally, nationally, or internationally. Now, e-commerce and lead generation can be contemplated, and the overall business plan can drive decisions about must-have site capabilities and the marketing budget that makes the most sense.
- [size=; font-size: inherit,inherit]Supporting business structure. Sadly, well-executed lead-generation sites sometimes fail because the firm lacks a sales department capable of following up on the leads or closing them. E-commerce sites implode when the firm’s IT resources are overwhelmed by system demands, or when its fulfillment infrastructure becomes overloaded by the additional volume. Website strategies must always be considered in the context of your overall business capabilities.
Each type of site has its own set of characteristics, which is why it’s hard to mix and match features. For example, a few items thrown up for sale on a credentials site will probably have
- low visibility or awkward positioning on the page
- a poor user experience in terms of understanding the offer and completing a transaction
- the effect of confusing visitors as to the purpose of the site and nature of the firm’s business
In short, mixing and matching purposes does more harm than good. As with most business activities, Internet marketing strategies cannot be crafted or executed haphazardly. Winning sites are built and marketed with singular focus.For more great small business articles such as The Top 25 Home-Based Business Ideas and Keeping Your Business Ideas Confidential, visit AllBusiness.com and AllBusiness Experts. For local business information on 15 million businesses, be sure to check out InBusiness.com.