What Comes First, Web Design or an Online Marketing Plan?
Very frequently, we have new clients come to us because – usually after studying a competitor's website – they have decided that it's time for their company to have a new website. There aren't many things the new website can't do for your company, and dozens of ways it can boost your profits, online or off. Still, a lot of these folks have it all backward...
That's because your online marketing plan is the most important piece of your Internet success. You should have one in place even before you start the design of your company's new website.
Although that's not the way a lot of people handle things, it makes sense when you stop to think about it. Ultimately, the goal of your company's website should be to attract more customers. Sometimes, as part of that process, you find that a new or upgraded design makes sense, but why begin with anything other than the aim of finding more business? By focusing your efforts on what matters most to your company, it becomes much easier to decide what kind of website you need, which features you should pay for, etc.
Here are a few ideas you should keep in mind while you start this process:
Even great websites need customers. In order to turn visitors into customers, you have to have a steady flow of visitors to start with. Make sure that search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, and social media marketing are all integrated in your online vision. Otherwise, you could end up with the masterpiece that's never seen by anyone.
What works for some other business may or may not work as well for you. Trying to copy a competitor can be dangerous, and taking advice from a well-meaning friend or colleague can sometimes be just as bad. Think of each idea you hear as it relates to your own company. Different strategies work differently across industries, so take what works for you and discard the rest.
There's one question that matters for every tool, feature, and application you consider. That question is: "How will this help me earn more money, or pay less than I'm paying now?" If it can’t do one of those two things, then why is it worth anything to your company? There might be very rare situations where you'd consider investing in something that won't show a clear return on investment, but throw in too many of them and you have the prescription for a few headaches, a lot of lost profits, and more than a little bit of regret.
Thomas J. Holzkopf
Certified Internet & Digital Marketing Consultant