When setting objectives for a website, focus on exactly what you want it to accomplish.
For most companies, increasing sales and maintaining business already on the books are primary objectives for websites. But what else do you want your site to accomplish?
For many businesses it's a change in corporate image -- to a point where the company becomes well-respected for its technical knowledge or its unique competencies.
For others, websites are part of an overall marketing program focused on getting the word out to the right people about a company's offerings.
Here are several common site objectives:
- Leverage Clients' Hot Buttons. Of all possible objectives, this one is perhaps the most important. For example, if your business is a high-end restaurant . . . use dramatic photography and hunger-inspiring descriptions of your best-selling entrees, appetizers, and desserts. See our Website Gallery for examples. If it's a technical product, focus on metrics that demonstrate increased productivity and / or reduced costs. It's the same as it ever was: sell the sizzle, not the steak. Nobody cares what it is, they only care what it does for them. Key objective: demonstrate what your product does for customers.
- Make It Easy To Buy. If prospects visit your site and conclude, "these people get it, they understand my business," then you're well on your way to sales. They'll trust you to know their issues and have the competence to offer appropriate, effective solutions. Use your site to kick-start the sales process by providing customer-focused material that underscores the benefits of your products in challenging situations your prospects routinely encounter.
- Make It Easy To Use -- and Continue Using. The easier it is to buy, use, and benefit from your products / services / "solutions," the more likely it is people will do so, given competitive pricing and qualitative equality. Demonstrate your understanding of customer needs and wants on your website. Show metrics so it's obvious that your products can make clients' lives easier and their jobs more productive. "How to use" videos can do this, provided they are very simple and clear. Key objective: make it easy for customers to understand how quickly and easily they can integrate and leverage your products productively.
- Make Customers Happy With Your Products / Services and Proud of Their Decision to Buy Them, and you will have a strong long-term ally in the marketplace.
Competitive Landscape. Be sure you understand your company's competitive landscape and communicate it to your website creation company. Your site must focus on what makes your products/services a better choice than your competition's. Focus on your market advantages, and make sure copy created for you overcomes unstated objections that are in the minds of your prospects and customers.
Setting objectives is critical because -- as "philosopher" Yogi Berra said -- if you don't know where you're going, you'll probably wind up somewhere else.