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March 27, 2012

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Basic marketing questions to answer when building a website

by Tom De Baere

http://www.flickr.com/photos/drachmann/

This post is about which basic marketing questions you need to answer before you can start building your website. And why growing companies need to build a team of specialist when designing or re-designing their website.

Your first company website

Let me share a story that might sound familiar to some people. When smaller companies start their business, they are very much focused on creating good products or services. They often build a website themselves, because money, time and knowledge reasons drive them into that scenario. Or if they lack knowledge to do so, they outsource but with minimum costs.

Then the company grows, and becomes more aware of their brand strengths, more products are being put in the portfolio, and they start taking marketing more seriously. They start creating a marketing plan, build marketing collaterals, some advertising, some PR, and often in B2B tradeshows and conferences are part of the mandatory marketing “menu”.

Your company has grown, but not your website

Although this is a perfectly natural way for smaller companies to grow their marketing, let me list a few things that clarify my point:

  • You have no idea who is visiting your website.
  • Website pages are in many cases a collection of PDFs.
  • The information on the website is product centric, rather than buyer-centric
  • The website is a reflection of how the organisation is structured
  • Visitors cannot engage with your company through interactions and conversations

You can think of plenty of other reasons why websites are not performing, but that is not the topic of this post. And I do realise that many webmasters are well aware of what they are doing and use Google Analytics, keywords optimalisation, and know how to structure information, etc.

Why you need to invest heavily in your website

There are so many things you need to take care of when building a website, like branding, content structuring, navigation, SEO, fast/slow track information, e-mail & social media integration, etc….

That’s why I think it is difficult for a company to do this themselves, unless building websites is your business ;-).

Your website is the front door to your company, and I feel companies should invest heavily in their website. And the most important thing is to get the basics right, otherwise you’ll run into trouble again.

Which basic marketing questions you need to answer ?

Before you start with your new website, you need to have a good understanding of some key elements before you can move on:

  • Who do you want see as visitors to your website ? (target groups and segmentation)
  • What are the needs of each target groups, and what will be your online value proposition to them ?
  • How will people find your website ?
  • For each of these target groups, what do you want them to do on your website ?
  • What is the business value of your website ? Informing, Educating, Selling, …
  • What is your brand DNA ? What does your company stand for ? What are its internal and external values ?
  • What is your mission as a company ? What is your vision as a company ?
  • What is your brand architecture ? Do you have multiple brands or only one ? How do they relate to each other and how do you want to position them to your target audience ?

Once you have an answer to the above questions, you can move on to the next step.

Set-up a team of experts

When re-designing or designing your website, create a team of experts with the following knowledge:

  • Your internal marketers who understand your markets, and your value proposition to these markets.
  • Your IT department that understands how to integrate different internal IT systems (ERP/CRM systems, document management systems, marketing automation, …) and external websites.
  • An external company who is capable to demonstrate to you that they understand how to reflect your brand DNA into a website that attracts your external stakeholders (customers, partners, suppliers and employees).
  • An external company that understands how to disclose the information hidden in your current content, and repurpose it to attract the right decision makers to your website. Usually when you search for a company specialised in Content Marketing, and you have a good feeling about them, you have found the right company.
  • An external company that is knows how to build an Information Architecture that translates the acquisition and conversion objectives of your website into customer journeys that reach your website goals.

You might be able to find an external company who can do all of this, but you might need several companies.

A team with this much expertise will work with your answers and translate them into a website ready for the future, a website that will drive conversion and reach your business goals.

What do you think is the best way to do this ? One external company or multiple companies ?

Thank you for reading.

Warm regards,

Tom De Baere

  • Tom De Baere

    Feel free to do so. Thanks.