What is Website Strategy

Written By Stewart Ritchie
Posted On March 24, 2015
Tags process

Strategy is the key to any great website project, more than just a website strategy, but a bigger digital marketing strategy.  Any and every great marketing plan has a website in the middle of it, somewhere to co-ordinate all the other marketing efforts and provide a centralised message.

Most Web design projects follow the seven or eight stage process outlined in our previous post.

The marketing strategy is the over arching plan for how the company will acquire and retain customers. It may be made up of multiple components and use various tactics. It may include email marketing, social media, display advertising, Apps or print ads. Strategy ties all of these pieces together, guiding potential customers through the funnel into becoming actual customers or solving any other problem.

First let’s look at what problem we really need to solve in the clients’ business and then develop a strategy that will solve that problem. In poweredbycoffee’s case – our old website had no traffic and wasn’t converting. It reflected our work poorly, didn’t showcase how good we are and made it difficult to get in touch with us (see post for the post mortem). It wasn’t savable so we decided to build a completely new site and turn that into a marketing project.

Now that we have decided that a new website is definitely the way to go, how do we go about making sure that it’s going to actually do what we want and solve that problem for the client. Strategy, Strategy, Strategy. We need to workout, with the client, three key things. 1) What do we want people to do on the site, 2) how will we get them to do it and 3) How will we get them there.

This breaks down again 

  1. What are key actions we want people to do, to achieve the larger goals of the project (e.g. purchase something, fill in a contact form, subscribe to a mailing list, view a certain number of pages, make a donation etc etc)
  2. What does the site need to do, or what content does it need to provide to enable these to happen.
  3. How will we get the right people to the site to carry out this action.

Key actions

We need to reverse engineer a plan for the site, what actions do we want the people visiting the site to take in order to reach the goals of the site.This will vary depending on the client and the audience for their product. There can be multiple actions that you want people to take and they should be dependent on the overall digital strategy.If you run a consultancy or have a very expensive product its’s unlikely the someone is going to buy online or on their first visit. For a site like this you have one major goal – get people to get in contact (phone, email, form etc). You may have several sub-goals to support the primary goal.You might want people to sign up to a mailing list so you can continue to market to them via email, building trust for, and exposure to, your brand and skills – so when it comes time for them to buy you are top of mind.

  1. Define Goals
  2. Define Target Market
  3. Define the journey through the funnel the site and other marketing can provide

Getting people to do what you want.

We need to work through how we can motivate visitors to the site to take the action we want them to take. What content can we provide, what messaging speaks to them. How can we communicate to them that your product really solves their problem and that you are the right choice for them. In our case, we need to provide a good solid understanding for the site visitor, not about what we do – web design – but why web design should be important to them. The effect that web design, and design in general, can have on their business and their lives in general. We need to show ourselves to not be a service provider, but problem solvers. No one “needs” a website – businesses need a way of generating leads and customers efficiently.

  1. Research the audience
  2. Research the product
  3. Research the problem solved
  4. Refine the “Messaging”

Getting People to the site

Traffic is strange. A lot of people jump into their analytics software and the first thing they see is “Total Traffic” and they either smile of frown based on what they see.This is almost totally useless and not all traffic is good. You can spend a lot of time, effort and money building traffic, traffic that will never buy anything from you. It is much better to build traffic from sources where people are actually interested in something you produce. There are a few ways of generating traffic, but not all of them are appropriate for every site and every project. We need to work out how to drive traffic to the site that is actually motivated to buy something or use your services.

At the same time traffic needs to be created strategically, there is no point running ads for solving a very particular problem then directing them to a generic home page, these ads should be going to a banging page created for that ad, one that answers the clients’ question, provides them value and then the opportunity to engage in one of your goals.

Common traffic generation techniques include

  • Search Engine Optimisation, (Content Marketing, Blogging, Strategic mapping of search terms to specific landing pages)
  • Pay Per Click Campaigns (AdWord, Facebook, Twitter etc)
  • Other Media (TV/Radio/Print)
  • Guest Blogging (also good SEO)
  • Link Building (sometimes good for SEO)

All of these techniques can drive traffic in different ways.They have different audiences and messages associated with them.They have their particulars and must be used strategically themselves.

Content Strategy

Possibly the most important part of the process, what you put on your site to convert visitors into customers. Your content will drive them to the goals you have set out. The old saying goes that “Content is King” and its true. Good or bad content will make or break your site.

We need to decide what content will go on your site at launch, when will new content be added and how often will it be added. Who is responsible for keeping current content up to date and creating new content. What content will target users, and engage them.

Find-ability/Search

It is important to define separately from generally getting people to the site, in general – how your search engine presence will work. If we can define up front what we want to be found, and by who, we can design the site to better be found on these terms, rather than retroactively refitting the site with search optimisation as its built. If we know what we want people to find the site for, we can produce content that fits the theme and brings people to the site.

We conduct ‘find keyword’ research to find out what people are searching for and then build content that answers questions for people, providing valuable traffic.

Great. Now we have everything we need to start designing the site!

In our next post we will dive deeper into the strategy process and talk about how to set goals for a website.

Stewart Ritchie
Lead developer and founder of Powered By Coffee. Stewart has been building websites for 15 years and focusing on WordPress for 5. He founded Powered By Coffee in 2011 after finishing is masters degree. He lives in Guildford Surrey with his wife Sydney and their two cats.
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