I started writing this blog post outside a gate in SeaTac airport. I’m getting ready to board a plane for a conference that’s going to occupy the next three days. I have on my lap: my smartphone, my go-to hardcover journal to take notes, and an outline of a write up on email best practices that I owe a client. My carry on suitcase is snuggled on my side, and I have my coat and briefcase draped over it. I see a school board peer from another part of the state ten feet away, but literally cannot get up to greet him because of everything I have piled on top of myself. I was quite a sight. After chuckling at myself, I flipped open a clean page in my journal and started reflecting on the fight to maintain balance.
Owning my own business offers me flexibility and challenge and immense satisfaction. It also means I wear many hats and balance many responsibilities. There is often not enough time in the day to accomplish what I need to (to be honest, many clients tell me – after I haven’t invoiced them in 2 months – that I need to stop letting my bookkeeping slip.)
And so when we work with clients that have limited time and budget for their web design efforts, we totally get it. We developed a way to help them prioritize where to focus first, what we refer to as our digital marketing triage plan. Here’s how we help them break it down.
The first priority for a small business: a mobile responsive website.
Dead stop. No debate, this is a must have. And yes, in 2018 there are many small businesses that either a) don’t have a website yet, b) have an old website that doesn’t work on smartphones or c) have a separate mobile website service, not in any way connected to their primary website. All three of these have dire implications for the long-term health of a business, for multiple reasons. You can explore our website to learn why, but really: if you have time for only one project, make sure you have an up-to-specs mobile responsive website.
The second priority: consciously organize your information on your website.
Can your customers quickly find how to contact you? Can they easily learn what you offer and what sets you apart from your competition? Spending time to reflect on how your information is organized on your website will help you reap the foundational business benefits that a website offers. You can always build in promotional pages and blogs and case studies later. But be aware that when a customer finds your site, they will give you less than 3 seconds to capture their attention. Don’t lose your chance.
The third priority: a search engine optimization audit.
We use a step-by-step process with our clients to evaluate their site and how well it is built to support SEO. Even if you don’t have any plans for a full SEO program, you need to make sure your site doesn’t have any features that will get you bumped down Google & Bing’s rankings. For instance, those long lists of keywords and towns that everyone put in website footers ten years ago? They will get you blacklisted if your site still has them. And that separate mobile website service that seemed like a good idea five years ago? It will get you a serious bump down the list. Understanding your weaknesses will help you remove them as soon as possible.
The fourth priority: polish your branding and build uniformity.
As we often point out, it’s important to establish expertise and credibility on your website. The eCommerce Foundation found that as many as 88% of consumers research online before they make a purchase. An important step in adding polish and professionalism to your website is through uniformity. Consistent graphics, as well as visually appealing photos, will keep users on your site. Having a coordinated branding suite will leverage the efforts from your print and social media efforts to create a coherent story in the users’ mind. That builds an increased comfort level that has been proven to increase sales and becomes a valuable asset.
Lastly: leverage your website by linking to it throughout your digital marketing programs.
Your website can be a tool and resource for broader marketing programs. Launching an email campaign? You can ensure your emails are optimized (i.e. short!) by linking to important background context on your site. Building your social media presence? Linking to your website from your social media accounts will add cohesion and build your SEO rankings. Now that you have a polished asset, it’s time to reap the benefits.