Everything you always wanted to know about a new website but didn’t know who to ask!
So you’re looking to start or get your business online?
The most frequent questions and concerns we hear are:
- I don’t know what we need
- I don’t know who we should get to design the website
- How much should we be paying for a web site?
- What do we want our website to do for us?
- How should we market our website?
And no doubt many more doubts and questions along those lines!
UA Media has worked with exciting new start-up businesses since we launched in 2006. We have heard the same theme running through customers’ thoughts regardless of the business type; the common basic uncertainties are just the same.
With any new website or online project the first elements to get right are the foundations:
- Domain Name
How to put all these into practice to get the best results:
Making sure you have a concrete, realistic budget set from the word go will save you and whoever you consult with a lot of time, and as we all know, time is money…
By setting a web design budget you are clear and focused on what you can achieve within that budget. Setting a wish-list first that can’t be done will leave both you and the company you consult with on the back foot; better to set a budget then see what you can get with it.
You will need to set a ‘buy and build’ budget. This is the amount of money it’s going to cost to buy a domain name, pay for hosting and pay a web designer. Also, factor in at this stage if you need to purchase any images, hire a photographer, or buy any third party applications such as live chat or marketing tracking tools.
Setting your annual online marketing budget is critical at this point too. If you don’t, you could end up with an amazing web site that no one apart from you, your friends and family see because there’s no traffic going to it. So you want to think about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Pay Per Click (or Google Ad Words), Social and Email marketing.
Choosing a domain name is a key element of branding and ranking and your choice of domain name needs to fit with your marketing plan.
- If you are marketing your products / services under a brand name then you can pick a domain name that matches your company name, such as www.smithsweddingcars.co.uk
- Alternatively, you can market your services / products based on type, for example www.myweddingcar.co.uk again building a brand online (this can be more useful for niche products).
- Many people choose to have both options and in the example above they would buy both domain names and point myweddingcar.co.uk to the smiths domain. There can be many reasons for doing this and benefits, again it’s something you need to discuss when putting your initial plan together before you discuss it with a web design and online marketing company.
If you’ve invested time and money on a new website, it’s crucial that you also invest in good quality, reliable web hosting that can be proven to be trouble free. There’s nothing worse than driving traffic to a dead website. Make sure you look into all the options and remember, like most things, you get what you pay for.
Decide a clear purpose for your website. That might sound simple, but the site will be much more effective if it is designed to a specific business model; for example to focus on driving conversions, versus driving telephone queries.
Always remember that people are pressed for time and the ‘ten second rule’ means you need to grab people’s attention at first glance.
Do you want visitors to your website to buy products or are you selling a service, what if you do both? Try to map out a clear path from the visitor landing on your web site, to either checking out, or using a call to action and enquiring. The less clicks involved the better your conversion rates will be, which adds value to your Search Engine Optimisation, PPC and other online marketing activities.
Now that you have the building blocks, it’s time for the really creative front end magic web design that will bring your plans to life.
Some people like the WOW factor and it’s always great when a customer or visitor to your web site gives you a compliment about it. There are however, some fairly simple rules to adhere to, again all in the name of good conversions.
‘Look great but don’t complicate’ is the golden rule in web design. You need good clean, yet compelling and attractive web design. Apply the same rules as you would to opening an office or shop. Lead people by the nose through to the areas you need them to focus on, with as few barriers as possible.
It’s too easy to get carried away and overwhelm people with information to the point that they don’t know where to click next. If that happens then there’s a very high chance you’ve lost them to another site.
“Content is King”
(quote from thousands of SEO experts world wide)
In order to best sell yourself online, you need good, relevant, and unique content on your web site. You need to create a balancing act between what your visitors read and what Google needs in order to improve your rankings.
At the same time the content must best represent what you offer in such a way that will engage readers enough to drive them to purchase or enquire.
Thankfully the days of keyword stuffing (spam) are long gone and search engines are smarter than ever, so can pick up on dodgy tactics. This ensures that people who work hard and present good, rich content are rewarded and the bad guys that try to cheat the system are caught out.
While content is king, there are also elements of your site that will benefit from technical SEO and that’s where we come in. We can help you to get your site indexed by Google and we can also optimise your new site by using specific tools to ensure that you’ll get found. We use software called PremiumYoast SEO for WordPress and we are a Yoast-Certified agency meaning that we’ve done the training we need to get it spot on. We can also train you how to optimise pages for SEO so you’ll be able to do it yourself once the site is up and running.
Using all the above you already stand a good chance of getting conversions, but you could still face an abandoned cart.
This is where your website plan needs to look at pricing and sale strengtheners. Not only will you have to study your competitors for price, you need to make notes of what makes you the better choice. As pricing can be very keen without much more room for price movement, some brands price fix in order to keep a level playing field and reduce brand devaluation. In that case you are going to have to explore added value options to make you the best choice for your customers.
At this stage it’s the little things that matter which we call ‘confidence signals’. These can be elements such as warranty information, delivery information, in-stock flags, and other signs about the product that will help make the conversion. Attain positive, real reviews and always use testimonials if you have them.
Delivery is a big factor at this part of the process. Web site conversions live and die by delivery and it’s the universal biggest headache for web site owners everywhere!
Your online marketing strategy must have longevity within your business plan! The days of having a web site designed and set live on the search engines, then sitting back and watching the orders roll in are long gone.Getting your strategy right is a must and if you are working with a team of professionals then life will be a lot easier and more profitable.
Organic SEO can take 9 – 18 months to be fully effective on a site-wide basis. Don’t be sucked into claims such as “we can get you on page 1 of Google in 4 weeks”. It is possible, but the keyword choice will be poor, the relevancy likely nil and the means will probably be black hat – i.e. likely to get you penalised in the long term.
With the correct online marketing partnership, you should aim for long-term wins, so focus on products you know you can sell all day long and that also have a decent margin. That simple approach will see a much more reliable ROI and that will mean your business plan will stand up in more testing times.
PPC (Pay per click) is a popular option due to the easy analysis of ROI. Some products and services will be more expensive to market than others, but careful keyword targeting and exclusion will keep costs down. We can set up a campaign and maintain it for you, with campaigns most effective if the manager has access to analytics. Adwords campaigns can be run concurrently with Organic for fantastic returns but they need to be set up and monitored carefully or you can easily waste money.
Social media is an important part of any online marketing strategy. The first option to consider is your target demographic. If you want to sell to thirty-something women with disposable income, set up a Pinterest account and ‘pin’ your best selling products, with prices, on themed boards. If you are marketing a niche product, you can set up a forum to give your customers somewhere to discuss their hobby. Teens love Tumblr, techies like Google Plus and Reddit. Blogs, Facebook and Twitter are cross demographic social media platforms where you can set up accounts to interact with your customers. These platforms are also popular for customer service and brand management. Talk to us about how we can help advise you on your social media. Again, it’s easy to waste time and money on these platforms and the key is to regard it as just one avenue for your marketing.