“A tool left unused is a useless tool.”
I recently received an email from a client that built a website with us five or six years ago. Their concern was that they were not getting the results they had expected from their website. No stream of leads, no steady march of new clients, no increasing traffic. I built the website for them, when will the customers begin coming?
The question and concern was very legitimate. Why wasn’t the website giving them the exposure and lead generation it was designed to bring in? Looking into the website I quickly discovered it hadn’t been updated since 2011, and that was a new employee update. When I asked, “what’s new on the website?” I was rather startled by the reply, “why should I have to put anything on the website?”
Our emailed discussion revolved around the original website plan of content updates, blog entries, and the need to “keep it fresh” for site visitors. We had discussed email marketing and activity on LinkedIn that was designed to drive interested visitors to key areas of evolving web content. In short, we talked about how the website would be used and not left to gather dust.
This can happen with websites. Your website is a powerful marketing tool, but like any other tool it needs to be used to deliver its true value. With this client I had made the analogy: you buy a hammer and leave it in an open field. When you return after several months, would you have expected it to build you a house? No. You would need lumber, nails, a carpenter, and most importantly, you would need a plan.
Websites Are Not Launched. Websites Are Born.
I understand the feeling. Once the website is launched, there is a joy. There’s a thrill that the work of gathering images and writing content is finally done. You’re busy showing it off, too. One of the last things you want to think about is adding more to it, but planning for more is exactly what you need to do.
Plan Topics and Timing for Your Updates
In all likelihood your web content is already delivering the basics of what you do or what you sell. Use your blog to demonstrate your expertise in your industry and focus on specifics. Blog articles will deliver the search engine traffic from people looking for specifics.
- Keep articles short, helpful, and concise
- Insightful ideas, frequently asked questions, and tips are great topics, don’t be all selling all the time
- Don’t be afraid to “geek out” a little, but only if it is relevant to your readers
- Find a schedule (weekly, monthly, etc.) and stick to it no matter what
- Create a calendar of topics in advance and consider the seasonal shifts of your industry
Don’t Start Until You’ve Got Some Items On the Shelf
One of the top reasons most blogs fail is time. It takes considerable time to generate content and keep it flowing on a timely basis. Don’t fool yourself into believing you’ll have time to write every week—especially small business owners and non-profit directors. We all get busy. We all put it on the back burner. When it gets crazy busy, don’t try and rush something out. Instead, pull some content already saved on the shelf.
I get it that if you had enough time to write a backlog of articles, you wouldn’t be rushed in the first place. That’s where we get into the topic—
Share the Content Load
Google wasn’t built in a day, and it wasn’t built by just one person. Don’t hesitate to tap into the talents of your team. With three other people sharing the writing load for a monthly article, it reduces your writing requirements to quarterly. Why else would you share the content load?
- Show off your team—imagine the reassurance future customers can have knowing there’s more than one expert in the house
- Different viewpoints or different writing styles may identify better with different potential customers
- Outside guest bloggers may attract a new audience or market already following the guest writer
Learn and Understand What Analytics is Telling You
No matter what platform you’re using to assess the traffic to your website, you need to get a good understanding of what it says—and doesn’t say. While I am personally attached to Google Analytics, there are other platforms out there. Just make sure you select one that gives you the data you deserve.
How can be more important than how many. Analytics tells you more than how many site visitors visited your website, how long did they stay, and how many pages they viewed. Analytics shows you how the visitors got to your website. Did they find you through an outside link via business association? Did all that Google work pay off and they came in via old-fashioned search results? Which keywords or phrases brought the visitors to your website? Knowing what is working can help you do more to repeat it.
What’s not in the results can be just as important. If you have a series of products and services that are not appearing in your website performance profile, it may offer insights into what you should be writing about. Use this concept to assess the gaps in your website content.
Keep Fueling Social Media and Email Marketing
Great content is written once and used many, many times in many, many ways. Your blog entries or articles need to be written and enabled for sharing. When online visitors find something they like, they share. So, how do you get your great insights out to those who want to share it? Social media and email marketing.
Which social media platform should you use? That’s a separate discussion we should have. However, social sharing icons should be on every blog article you write. Let happy readers share it with their own network.
Email marketing is all about keeping a touchpoint with your existing customers, donors, or contacts. Sharing your insights and knowledge may further educate them on your services or offerings. With an easy subscription form on your website, prospective customers may sign up to stay in contact or become even better educated. Who doesn’t love a well-educated customer?
How and why you keep your website updated requires a more complex answer than, “Google wants you to.” The reasons include improving search performance, improving the connection with your current and potential customers, and demonstrating your expertise to the rest of your industry. To my customer with their concerns over website lead generation, I hope my answer (originally given privately and in more specific detail to their business) inspires them to use their website to build a great marketing platform.
Do you have a website that needs to be reinvigorated? Does your website need to be rebuilt with a blog? How about someone who can do the writing and email blasting for you? Contact us for details about how Signalfire can build the right plan for you.