Somehow, November has arrived. Christmas decorations are surfacing, the weather is heating up, and we're mentally preparing for the new year. Chances are, you've already got some pretty big plans in order for the new year when it comes to your business, but have you considered what you want from your website?
I mean, your business will definitely be planning for growth, and your website will probably fit into those plans somewhere. That's just a matter of course. But have you considered how your website is going to factor into your business' growth goals? Have you thought about how you'd like your website to improve?
Today we're addressing why you need to be thinking about this now, discussing some areas you will want to get better in, and looking at how you can get things in order to start off the new year on a good thing.
Planning Now vs Panicking Later
The odds are that you've done both of these things before when facing off against a large project. There have been times when you've decided to plan things out to the nth degree, and there have been times when said project escaped your attention until the last minute, and you either broke your sanity in two weeks of caffeine and no sleep, or you handed it to someone else and they did that instead.
When planning your goals from a few months out, you want to start with basic concepts. What things would you like your website to improve on? What new things do you want to branch out and try? Tackling your goals in this way will help ensure that one, you've got enough momentum to get your ideas rolling at the right time, and two, that the time doesn't get away from you, along with the high-quality potential of a correctly planned website.
So that you have a good idea of where you'd like to go and what you want to achieve, jot down your basic concepts and then start to think about how you might work on them for next year. Got a few? Good. We picked three of the big things that businesses with an online presence generally want to achieve, and had a look at ways you can make them happen for your own business.
1 - More Visitors and Leads
Generally, there are a few things that effect whether you attract visitors and leads. How well your website displays value and is visible on search engines are both important factors (and I'll address them in a minute), but generally it is your content that will bring in more visitors, and it is your content that will convert them to leads. Planning to have a content marketing strategy is a wise decision when deciding what you want your website to achieve. Have a think about how long you want to run campaigns for content marketing strategies, how you'll measure the return from them, and how you'll plan them, before deciding what your content will cover.
Adding on to the content marketing strategy, you want to think about how you'll build and improve on your email marketing from your current year's returns. Are your emails correctly tailored to your ideal audience? Are they receiving your emails at the right time? Something you could consider working out when at the big-picture phase is how you want your emails to shape the mindset of your leads, and the kind of workflow you could give them to work through that would most likely resolve in a sale.
2 - A Better Ranking
Securing a better ranking is always a hard thing to plan for when looking at how your website is put together, not in the least because the list of factors that influence your level of search engine optimisation keep changing. Instead of searching for a bunch of boxes to tick, it's often a better idea to focus on delivering a better browsing experience for potential customers, since search engines now tend to prioritise websites that do just that. If you're looking for a place to start on what makes for a better built website, I'd suggest having a look at some benchmark data from trustworthy sources. Often, the best way to work out whether you're measuring up and outperforming your competitors is by looking at industry trends that give the average on certain factors, like frequency of updates, mobile optimisation, and security.
Once you know what the industry averages are, you'll be able to plot against them.
3 - A Lower Bounce Rate
The bounce rate is a limited, but oft-used metric for plotting user engagement. It, along with the average session time of your website pages (which are both numbers you can find if your website has Google Webmaster tools enabled), can give an indicator for how long your readers are staying on a given website page, and whether they click on anything while they're there.
There are a variety of solutions that address this concern, all of which of which you should consider when planning what you want your website to be capable of in the new year. Here's three to get you started: an intuitively structured website (so you don't lose your readers trying to navigate), clearly offered value (so readers know exactly what they can get out of this page), and fast-loading pages (because a thirty-second load time was only acceptable in the dialup days).
Thinking About The How
"Okay, but how?" is one of my favourite questions, since it's generally the question that takes the concept and turns it into a real-life thing. It is the question you should be asking as you start to plan what you want your website to achieve as you look into the new year, because it will turn vague desires like 'oh, more leads would be nice' into something that can be achieved.
If you start thinking about what you want your website to be able to do now, then you'll have a clearer idea of what you need to achieve when the time comes to upgrade and improve your website. Not only will you be able to plan things out meticulously and calmly, but you'll also be able to implement things in stages rather than trying to upgrade everything all at once. (Which is actually a much more sustainable and profitable method for improving your website. To learn more about this kind of iterative website, read this article.)
Of course, there is another great advantage to planning out what you want your website to be capable of early on. You've got the time and margin to contact an expert in the field, who can help you turn your ideas and concepts into strategies and customers. One of the challenges of hosting a powerful, lead-converting website in today's content-driven market is finding people to help write your content, or provide direction for your marketing efforts, or simply to give your website the makeover you suspect it needs to stay relevant. In these cases, planning the 'what you want' and 'how that's going to happen' in advance can really pay off in delivering a powerful, revenue-generating website.
- The best time to start thinking about what you want your website to be capable of in the new year is before the new year. Are you considering what your website needs to be capable of to keep up when the calendar rolls over?
- The most common things businesses want to improve with their website are more visitors/leads, better ranking against search engines, and a better designed website. Clearly define and refine what you want, and compare it to your industry's standards, so that you know exactly what you want.
- Consider enlisting some expertise in the business of digital marketing to help you turn what you want into what you have, in a gradual, manageable, and growth-driven way.