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The internet is not what it once was. In the early 2000s, most websites were little more than static billboards on the information superhighway. And there was nothing wrong with that. This approach allowed companies to reach more people with basic information. But there was a hunger for more from customers, and some companies started to be more ambitious, reaping competitive advantages as a result.
As simple brand assets evolved into content publishing, websites became more interactive and began to provide richer multimedia experiences. Blogs, flash apps, feedback pages, and downloadable resources became mundane tactics — boosting engagement and lead generation, but again, innovators who continued to push the boundaries enjoyed outrageous rewards.
Today, 70% or more of the buyer journey takes place online and digital channels dominate the overall customer experience. Well-executed modern websites are customer journey accelerators and funnel-filling powerhouses. But even with all the potential of digital experiences, many businesses are still failing to get the most out of the Internet. You can attribute it to competing priorities, internal silos, lack of agreement about the site’s strategy and potential, or a myriad of other reasons.
What we know: Websites are the marketing tool best equipped to respond instantly to changing customer needs. They can also be a huge hindrance if they are outdated or don’t fit into your overall business strategy.
By involving C-suite and critical stakeholders in your strategy, management and execution, you can align every business goal – from marketing to down. It is the only way to achieve the results that companies need to achieve in today’s market. Here’s how to do it.
Make the case: companies that don’t innovate are left behind
What gets you out-of-the-box thinking as far as marketing your website? Take, for example, data storage company Qumulo. The digital marketing team completely changed the company’s web strategy to introduce continuous experimentation and iteration of digital campaigns. This approach generated over 1,400% growth in keywords on the first page, 300% growth in organic traffic, and 400% growth in form submissions.
This is just one example of what can happen when digital teams push an organization to change their processes, possibly change their tech stack and start treating the website as a digital product; a living, breathing thing that is constantly evolving. If you don’t, bet one or more of your competitors will.
Companies that drag their feet on digital transformation are missing out. The past two years have forever changed the way we interact with the Internet and how much customers trust websites. For example, in February 2020, online conversion rates rose nearly 9%, reflecting a degree of urgency to shop typically seen only on Cyber Monday. Industries such as education, publishing, internet and software services and consulting experienced traffic spikes of almost 20% compared to the previous three months.
But were all companies willing to take advantage of that incredible opportunity? Unfortunately not. Too many were frozen in time and relying on a static, outdated page to get their share of those excess sales. That was the wrong bet.
This incident is all the more surprising as opportunities for growth driven by digital transformation now abound in every sector, including healthcare, higher education, food delivery and social advocacy. In fact, it’s not just businesses that lose when website innovation is ignored. Nonprofits and higher education institutions can miss out on growth opportunities without a modern approach to the Internet.
What are some new ways companies are responding to this recent wave? For starters, an increasing number of companies are investing in software-as-a-service (SaaS), and the industry expects to earn $94.9 billion this year. Many organizations are also changing the way they think about the purpose of their website, or are finally realizing that they need a portfolio strategy so that different parts of their business can set their own web-dependent goals.
Everyone’s goal is to turn their website (or sites!) into growth engines. Smart leaders do that by staying consumer-centric and data-driven: consistently focusing on analytics, collecting customer feedback, looking for customer pain points, and more. This is all reflected in the marketing approach, which is in line with new engagement options. It’s amazing what you can unlock when the web turns from a hindrance to a driver of innovation.
Assemble a digital marketing strategy that drives growth
A digital marketing strategy with a customer-centric website experience is packed with benefits. And modern web practices will get you there, with faster sprint and release cycles, greater marketing team autonomy, and confidence that nothing will break during implementation.
But it’s not always clear how leaders can use their websites as marketing tools. Here are a few actions you can take:
1. Bring CIOs and CMOs together.
It’s time for CIOs to break the status quo. They should see themselves not only as technology leaders, but also as business partners who can make a unique and vital contribution to growth. They have the authority to drive new, more efficient visions of data management, operations and reporting. All of that can help create a much more robust web presence.
At the same time, CMOs are expected to spend 47% of their budget by 2022 to keep pace with advances in digital technology. So CIOs and CMOs can and should work closely together, with the former’s team providing the latter’s department with new marketing platforms, guardrails and security to enable them to maximize their budget. This collaboration is the foundation of everything else.
2. Treat your website as a digital product.
For websites to cover the entire customer journey, they need to deliver the right content for each stage, with the right design and, of course, the right integrations with the rest of your marketing stack. That means you need control over all these things. Today, far too many marketers can’t publish in real time, have little to no ability to tweak the design, and depend on someone else’s backlog to make even minor functional changes.
Fix that by first tuning into clear “North Star” metrics that align with your growth strategy — usually something around engagement or conversion — and gaining authority over the customer experience and the technology behind it to move the needle on those numbers. This may involve some revision, but don’t call it a “relaunch.” Going live is the start of your journey.
Once you’re up and running, the real fun begins. Regularly update your content, experiment with new designs and flows, measure your results and coordinate with everything else along the customer journey, from ad campaigns to customer support. That’s what it means to treat your website as a digital product.
3. Don’t sleep on social media.
Your website redesign can easily fail – and it doesn’t matter if not enough people visit your website. Using your website as a marketing tool should leverage the power of social networks more than any other form of advertising. It is the best way to attract new potential customers.
Every person on Facebook can spread the word about your website to about 338 friends – the average amount a Facebook user is connected to. That’s a plethora of potential new customers, so be sure to promote your business on these networks and do it often enough. A common pattern for doing this with content is called POSSE (Publish on Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere), which automates the process of distributing content across multiple social channels. Likewise, paying careful attention to social resources in your web analytics settings will help you track how your investments in improving your reach are paying off.
By aligning the focus of both IT and marketing within your organization, putting everyone’s focus on fresh and engaging content, and vigorously promoting on social networks, you can successfully improve website engagement and use your website as a marketing tool. But get started now before your competitors get ahead of you.
Josh Koenig is Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Pantheon
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This post 3 ways to turn your website into a digital powerhouse
was original published at “https://venturebeat.com/2022/04/04/3-ways-to-turn-your-website-into-a-digital-powerhouse/”