Getting Started on Your Web Strategy
In a perfect world, all website projects would start with a web strategy that would point the way to powerful content. Then the website content and functionality needed for business would guide the design, and finally a skilled web developer would develop the website.
But what if you took a staged approach to keep costs down and web strategy got lost along the way? Or what if you already have a website but the content and visuals could use some sprucing up? What if you’re finally ready to take the plunge and start using social media and social networks? Don’t worry. When it comes to web strategy, you start from wherever you are.
No matter where you are along the path to a web presence that will meet your business needs, there’s no time like the present to refine or develop your web strategy. Below you’ll find 5 key steps to start you off and a lot more questions to help you think it through.
Web Strategy: 5 Steps You Can Take Right Now
- Start by refining your business brand story because people love a good story.
- Revisit your business goals for the Web.
- Research your target audiences by talking to clients and doing research on the Web.
- Identify likely places to connect with your target audiences online.
- Review what you’re actually saying publicly right now (online and off), then identify what you want to say next and where you will say it.
Web Strategy Starts with Business Questions
Your business brand story will shape your Web strategy. Are you clear about the benefits of choosing your business over the competition? Are you helping your audience understand whatever they need to know? Are you introducing clients to the people in your company who will work hard to keep them happy? If you don’t have website content yet, how can you organize it to give your visitors a great experience? If the website content you have isn’t working, how can you organize it differently?
Does your content inspire a sense of connection with your company (whether it’s on your website or on social networks and media)? Is your content approachable? Entertaining? Does it inspire confidence? Your brand story will start taking shape once you can put those pieces together and create a useful narrative about who you are and the passions and values that drive your business.
Get clear about your web presence goals, how they relate to the success of your business, and how they relate to your web strategy. How will a new or updated website, joining new social networks, or publishing content on new social media channels help you reach your overall business goals? What are you willing to invest to help you reach your business goals (time, money, energy, etc.)? What return do you need on your web-related investment? Is your timeline for change realistic? What can you do in-house and what will you need to outsource? Business needs and goals will also shape your web strategy.
Next you need to talk to your clients or potential clients. Ask them what they value most from your company or what they want from a company that provides similar services. It’s vital to understand what your clients want and need so that you can effectively speak to them on your website. Do your target audiences prefer certain types of content? Text? Images? Video? Audio?
Once you’ve spent time talking to members of your target audience offline, take the next step and do some research to determine where they already spend time online. Which networks speak to your clients’ wants, needs, and interests? Do you need to explore niche networks for a tightly targeted audience or will you focus on the big networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn? It’s important to meet people where they are, and it’s essential to avoid spreading yourself too thin. A good web strategy acknowledges your audience on the Web.
Which of the social networks or social media channels that you’ve identified will be a good fit for promoting your business services? Which are a good fit for educating your clients and potential clients? Which ones allow you to effectively make a professionally personal connection? Which networks can best showcase the types of content you can or will produce (video, presentations, blog posts, etc.)? Remember that a presence on the Social Web will help drive traffic to your website in addition to raising awareness about your business. Your web strategy will help you manage your workflow and create useful content too.
Take a good long look at your cards, brochures, and existing marketing materials; review your current website; and take stock of your existing presence on the Social Web. Is your message aligned with your business brand story and goals? What about your web presence goals? Can you identify room for improvement? How are you talking your future business success into reality? What do you need to do and say to help you reach your business goals? What steps will you take to coordinate your message and content across all of your web properties? A web strategy is useless if you don’t take action.
Developing a web strategy and taking action to achieve your goals are two parts of a success-oriented whole. You’ll need to expend time, effort, and possibly money on both counts. Luckily, in addition to all these web strategy questions, we’ve provided other useful resources on our website to help you with creating web content and how to use WordPress. If you decide that you need professional guidance and support, we’re here for that too—just drop us a line.