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The Internet is no longer what it used to be. In the early 2000s, most websites were little more than static “billboards” of brands on the “information highway”. And there was nothing wrong with that. That approach allowed companies to reach more people with basic information. But there was an appetite for more from customers, and some companies began to be more ambitious, reaping competitive benefits as a result.
As simple brand assets became content posts, websites became more interactive and began to offer richer multimedia experiences. Blogs, flash apps, comment pages and downloadable assets became common tactics – they drove engagement and generated leads, but again, innovators who continued to push the limits enjoyed outsized rewards.
Today, with 70% or more of the buyer’s journey online and digital channels coming to dominate the overall customer experience, modern websites done right are customer journey accelerators and funnel-filling powerhouses. But even with the full potential of digital experiences, many businesses are still failing to take full advantage of the web. You can chalk it up to competing priorities, internal silos, lack of agreement on the site’s strategy and potential, or myriad other reasons.
What we know: Websites are the marketing tool best equipped to address rapidly changing customer needs. They can also be a big deterrent if they are outdated or out of step with your overall business strategy.
Gaining buy-in from C-suite and critical stakeholders regarding your strategy, management, and execution can get all company goals, from marketing on down, on the same page. It’s the only way to drive the results companies need to succeed in today’s marketplace. Here’s how to do it.
Make the case: companies that don’t innovate are left behind
What does innovative thinking bring you when it comes to marketing your website? Take the data storage company Qumulo as an example. His digital marketing team completely changed the company’s web strategy to introduce continuous experimentation and iteration into digital campaigns. This approach led to over 1,400% growth in first page keyword positions, 300% growth in organic traffic, and 400% growth in form submissions.
This is just one example of what can happen when digital teams bring an organization together to change its processes, potentially change its technology stack, and start treating the website as a digital product; a living, breathing thing that is constantly evolving. If you’re not doing this, bet one or more of your competitors is.
Companies that drag their feet in digital transformation miss out. The last two years have forever changed the way we interact with the Internet and how many customers trust websites. For example, during February 2020, online conversion rates increased by nearly 9%, reflecting a level of buying urgency typically only seen on Cyber Monday. Industries such as education, publishing, software and Internet services, and consulting saw traffic spikes of nearly 20% compared to the previous three months.
But were all companies prepared to take advantage of this incredible opportunity? Sadly not. Too many were frozen in time, relying on a static, out-of-date page to get their share of those oversales. That was the wrong bet.
This fact is all the more surprising given that growth opportunities fueled by digital transformation are now occurring in every sector, including healthcare, higher education, food delivery, and social advocacy. In fact, it’s not just businesses that lose when website innovation is ignored. Nonprofits and higher education institutions may miss out on growth opportunities without a modern approach to the web.
What are some of the new ways companies are responding to this recent surge? For starters, an increasing number of companies are investing in software as a service (SaaS), with the industry expecting to earn $94.9 billion this year. Many organizations are also changing the way they think about the purpose of their website, or are finally waking up to the reality that they need a portfolio strategy so that the different parts of their business can take control of their own performance-dependent goals. the Web.
Everyone’s goal is to transform their website (or sites!) into growth engines. Smart leaders are doing that by staying consumer-focused and data-driven: constantly focusing on analytics, gathering customer feedback, looking for customer pain points, and more. All of that goes back to the marketing approach, which dovetails with new engagement opportunities. It’s amazing what you can unlock when the web goes from being a drag to a driver of innovation.
Come together around a digital marketing strategy that drives growth
A digital marketing strategy with a customer-centric website experience is packed with benefits. And modern web practices will get you there, with faster release and sprint cycles, greater autonomy from the marketing team, and the confidence that nothing will break on implementation.
But it’s not always obvious how leaders can Use your websites as marketing tools. Here are some actions to take:
1. Bring together the CIOs and CMOs.
It’s time for CIOs to leave the status quo. Specifically, they must see themselves not just as technology leaders, but as business partners who can make unique and vital contributions to growth. They have the authority to drive new, more efficient insights into data management, operations, and reporting. All of that can help create a much stronger web presence.
At the same time, in 2022, CMOs are expected to spend 47% of their budgets to keep up with advances in digital technology. Therefore, CIOs and CMOs can and should act closely together, with the former’s team providing the latter’s department with new marketing platforms, protections, and security to enable them to maximize their budget. This association is fundamental to everything else.
2. Treat your website like a digital product.
For websites to address the entire customer journey, they need to offer the right content for each stage, with the right design, and of course the right integrations with the rest of your marketing package. That means you need control over all of these things. Today, too many marketers can’t publish in real time, have little or no ability to adjust design, and rely on someone else’s backlog to make even minor functional changes.
Fix that by first aligning with clear “north star” metrics that connect to your growth strategy – typically something related to engagement or conversion – and gain authority over the customer experience and the technology behind it to move the needle. in those numbers. This might involve a certain amount of revision, but don’t call it a “re-release”. Going live is the beginning of your journey.
Once it’s up and running, the real fun begins. Regularly update your content, experiment with new layouts and flows, measure your results, and coordinate with all other activities throughout the customer journey, from ad campaigns to customer support. That’s what it means to treat your website like a digital product.
3. Do not sleep on social networks.
Redesigning your website can easily work, and it won’t matter if not enough people visit it. Use your website as a marketing tool you need to harness the power of social media more than any other form of advertising. Is the way to attract new potential customers.
Each person on Facebook can spread the word about your website to approximately 338 friends – the average number a Facebook user is connected with. That’s a lot of potential new customers, so be sure to promote your business on these networks and do so often enough. A common pattern for doing this with content is called POSSE (Publish on Own Site, Distribute Elsewhere) which automates the process of submitting content across multiple social channels. Similarly, paying close attention to social sources in your web analytics setup will help you track how your investments to improve your reach are paying off.
By aligning the focus of both IT and marketing within your organization, everyone emphasizing new and engaging content, and promoting it strongly on social media, you can successfully achieve improve website engagement and Use your website as a marketing tool. But start now before your competitors get ahead of you.
Josh Koenig is co-founder and chief strategy officer at Pantheon.
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