A brand’s website is ground zero for all its digital activity. It’s where the brand can sell products, convey key marketing messages and collect contact information from interested customers. It also provides a platform to inform and educate customers with blog posts, white papers and more.
A good website serves as the central hub from which all your digital activity radiates, offering an “owned and operated” space where you control the messaging and experience for your audience. In fact, without a properly designed, mobile-friendly site, we would argue that there is little justification for investment in other digital tactics (email, social media, etc.).
But what does a complete website need?
For starters, you don’t have to break the bank creating a deep, robust website out of the gate. Many effective, conversion-attracting websites are quite simple. Over time, you can build out your website into a robust forum for sales and education (which will help with your SEO efforts, too).
But for now, let’s explore the 5 key elements of any well-built website, no matter how large or small they might be.
1. A Mobile-Friendly Framework:
Here’s the harsh truth: Google no longer indexes non-responsive websites in their mobile search results. This means that people searching for your brand or services will simply be unable to find your site if you don’t provide a user experience tailored to mobile customers.
The fact that more than 50% of all web traffic in 2018 came from mobile devices means this is a reality you cannot ignore. And that number is up from only .7% just 10 years ago, so don’t expect that trend to reverse any time soon.
And “mobile friendly” doesn’t just mean that you reverse-engineer a responsive design after you’ve built your desktop site. Today’s best websites are actually built for the mobile experience first, and we encourage you to take that approach whenever possible.
2. Easy-to-Use Navigation:
Nothing is more frustrating than visiting a new website and being unable to locate the information you’re looking for. And while Google is your friend when it comes to being discovered, it can also penalize you harshly for providing a confusing, unintuitive user experience.
We recommend checking out one of our earlier posts about improving website navigation, but in short, here are a few quick tips:
- Show your website to someone who doesn’t know your brand: How easily can they find what you want them to find?
- What does your site look like on a mobile phone? Is it hard to navigate buttons or can you bounce between pages with ease?
- Keep on top of industry trends, but don’t feel like you have to redesign your site every 6 months.
3. Lead Collection
Growing your database of leads is one of the most impactful aspects of any website. Whether you’re simply trying to build your mailing list or collect more detailed leads from prospective customers, you’ll need a mechanism to capture data.
One important element to keep in mind here is that the amount of information you’re asking for should correlate to what you’re offering your customers in return. If you’re looking for a sign-up for your mailing list, you might consider asking for only 2-3 fields of information (e.g. Name, Email Address). However, if you’ve got a lengthy, detailed eBook full of useful insights, you can likely get away with asking for more information from your lead (e.g. Company Name, Phone Number, etc.).
Whatever way you set this up, make sure you’ve got a system in place—like UTM tracking—to spring into action whenever a new lead is captured, as well as trace where they came from (e.g. Google Ads, organic search, Facebook, etc.). That way, you can tell what your most effective marketing channels are.
4. A Relevant, Insightful Blog
One of the key elements of modern “inbound” marketing theory is that you can’t just sell to your customer—you need to educate them, too. You can use a blog to offer insights and helpful advice that doesn’t have a sales angle (like this one 😉), helping to create a trusting relationship with prospective customers while also improving your own SEO efforts.
Your blog can reflect a number of different topics, and it does not always have to be a deep dive into a technical subject matter. You can also use it to update your customers about relevant internal news or observations about breaking industry news.
The key to a good blog is presenting digestible, interesting information in a friendly, knowledgeable voice. Your blog posts should not read like white papers, and they should never be written just for the sake of posting new content to your website—intentionality matters!
5. Well-Crafted Landing Pages
If you plan on running any kind of digital ads, you’ll want to have the ability to build landing pages specific to those campaigns. For example, if you’re looking to promote your latest eBook, you’ll need a landing page that only educates the visitor about that eBook only. No one likes clicking on an ad for one topic only to have to navigate through the site looking for what they were interested in.
Landing pages can quickly become an afterthought for a campaign, slapped together hastily (or not at all) and thrown into the world. However, it’s our experience that the one of the biggest detriments to a digital campaign is the lack of a succinct, mobile-friendly landing page that encourages conversion.
To learn more about landing page best practices, check out this post.
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