Back to Basics: Business Strategy 101
Before we move forward and get your website and marketing and sales processes ahead of your competition, let's revisit a few basic business strategies to keep in mind.
The Customer Is King
In our view, the customer comes first. Period. Don't fall into the trap of designing your home page based on the most beautiful design from your favorite agency. Avoid prominently promoting a whitepaper on your website (written by a CXX at your company) if the download form is not converting enough leads.
How do you get out of these sticky political situations? With reliable user data. Do your user homework up front, track results, and you'll be able to talk your way out of any poor design decision. After all, the website is for customers and potential customers. If it's not reaching them or converting them or working for them, it needs to change. Fast.
We introduce you to some new tools and concepts that will get you there, such as user personas, usability techniques, and even how to redesign landing pages to benefit users and increase conversion rates. The user (that is, website visitor) is your primary focus.
Understanding the Buying Process
Website visitors interested in your products or services can be "mapped" to a place in the buying process. Provide different kinds of pages on your website to address different stages of the buying process, as shown in Figure 1.2.
Figure 1.2 Different buying process stages require different kinds of information from your website.
By addressing the needs of your website visitors who are at different stages of the buying process, you can also support the sales process.
Remove Organizational Silos
Getting your marketing, sales, and website teams to work with each other, share data, integrate their workflow, and coordinate efforts as a team could be your biggest challenge. With everyone sharing the goal to obtain the results we outline in this book, you'll be able to coordinate efforts across organizational silos with less resistance.
What results are we talking about? Essentially, being able to track closed sales back to specific marketing efforts, thereby identifying which marketing efforts bring in more and better-qualified leads than others. Well worth the effort, in our opinion.
Get the Most Bang for Your Buck
Should you code your own content management system (CMS) or customer relationship manager system (CRM)? We have seen this done, but we typically don't advise that you take this approach.
There's no need to reinvent the wheel or spend all your time under the hood of your website; it's best to use state-of-the-art components instead. Many good tools are available, such as software as a service (such as Salesforce.com) or free open source implementations (such as SugarCRM and CMS systems WordPress or Drupal).
You'll be able to spend your energy perfecting the parts of your website that your visitors will see and interact with. This will take all your creativity and cleverness, so save that for the good stuff, instead of reinventing the wheel.
Find Out What's Working
Discover what works, and abandon what doesn't. Be ruthless and cut a favorite (or fun) program if it's not giving you leads or sales. Save the funds (preferably as soon as possible!) and initiate new programs that you already know are doing better, thus improving the bottom line overall.
How do you find out what works? You guessed it: with metrics. Set them up, track them, and analyze them. Measuring which efforts drive more online sales or more conversions or more downloads (whatever your specific goal) lets you identify what's working and what isn't.