To begin, we are incredibly transparent about our attraction-based inbound marketing approach and engagement strategies, having written extensively about them (on our blog and in our books). Sharing info like this is a core component of a transparent marketing approach – make it yours.
In our experience working with hundreds of companies, we've observed a few commonalities among the vast majority of business websites. Namely, that prospects will thoroughly research your website (and your team) when your content is informative, easy to navigate, and has value. And, that the people doing the research are seldom decision-makers.
From these observations, we begin to understand that there are both influencers and decision-makers among your website visitors, and that each needs to get the information they are seeking in order to remain on your site, and to initiate engagement.
A key component of our process is to work with you to identify the main persona types for your business. Then we can collaborate with you to present your information in a manner that encourages research and conversions. We do this with helpful offers, blog subscriptions and social engagement that builds community.
The quickest way to toss away your online investment is to set it and forget it. In the past, web designers and their developers would create a new website for you every year or so. While a fresh new site was always exciting, a few predictable things would happen: it would often be a brochure site that got dated with each new product or service change, or it might have included an interactive Flash or other technical element like a map or navigation structure that would require a developer to update (when they managed to schedule the task). Possibly, your team would stop referring to it over time (or worse, were embarrassed by it) due to an outdated look or errors in the information.
KAYAK's solution to keeping sites fresh is to build it on a marketer-friendly platform, grant your team access, and train them how to use core functions and post content. We believe that your website is your website, not ours and that you should hold the keys. Providing you with access means no more waiting on developers to make edits or add pages, and no more delays in the execution of your marketing efforts. Further, being empowered to make your own edits means you can engage the team at KAYAK on more strategic, marketing-focused activities.
A core component of our service is training your team in the basic strategies and best practices of attraction-based online marketing, website management and content deployment. We'll follow this up with weekly coaching and inbound marketing efforts for at least six months after your improved website is launched. This allows your team members to develop the good habits they will need to succeed at online marketing on their own and lessen your company's reliance on external teams. After the initial six month term, we can re-evaluate our strategic alliance based on your internal resources, goals, and opportunities.
Once we have an understanding of your website visitor (your target personas), we'll take a more focused look at your existing website to determine how well it aligns with the expectations of your target market. Simply put, we’ll talk. A lot.
Along with you, we'll consider the visitor, your information organization, your sales funnel optimization and flow, blog content, search optimization, and how all of these pieces fit together to meet your goals. Armed with identified personas and a content-based approach, we'll turn our attention to visual design and website deployment readiness.
The nature of content management systems (CMS for short) allows us to change or tweak the visual design of a site quite easily and inexpensively compared to custom development. Thus, the “design” process is significantly different today than it was even 2 years ago. Custom designed/developed sites now represent the exception, and are generally avoided in favour of sites that can get to work on marketing faster.
Towards the end of August 2013, Google made a very welcome update to their search quality algorithm. The update – named Hummingbird – reduced reliance on specific keywords or phrases in favour of identifying topical, relevant content. In essence, search became much more about information quality and presenting accurate results to searchers. Hidden text, keyword stuffing, and spam links instantly became a thing of the past, elevating high quality sites and sinking poorer ones.
With that update, the primary signals for recognizing the quality of a site's or page's content became firmly centered on well organized and relevant content, with further emphasis placed on visitor engagement, such as comments and social media shares.
From a business perspective, engagement is nothing new. In fact, you might recognize it as networking. The traditional approach of doing lunch, touring facilities, playing a round of golf, and otherwise building your relationships is no different than networking today – it has simply been moved online. People still like to connect with people first, and companies second.
That said, networking online is a bit different than in real life. That conversation you used to have over a glass of beer isn't heard by just one prospect any more. Given the public aspect of social media, many people may see it, and engage with you.
By making a point of regularly asking and answering questions, talking to prospects, peers and influencers on many topics on a regular basis, you'll find prospects either referring you or willingly self-qualifying themselves for your sales team. As the self-qualifiers dig deeper, they'll develop an affinity for you, and those who aren't interested will eliminate themselves. Yes, that means fewer tire kickers and more qualified leads.
Online marketing becomes exponentially more successful when we remember that real people are on the other end of the conversation, that there are differing types of participants, and that we generate more authentic relationships when we engage in dialogue instead of spewing sales pitches.
The nature of our business is that we engage in “attraction-based” strategies, which means our prospects typically come to us to help them deliver a similar marketing service to that which we do for ourselves: helping prospects find solutions. Ours is a collaborative environment that transforms the more traditional project-based efforts – or siloed disciplines – melding them to become organic, growth inducing online presences with significant shelf life. In fact, we shy away from RFPs that list out specialties like SEO, Website Design and Social Media as we know they are all actually the same thing – most of our peers just haven’t figured that out yet.
We take a long-term approach to our clients’ success (better ROI that way). As such, there’s a shopping list of technical solutions, education opportunities and communication strategies that could be utilized. The trick in it all is identifying which ones are right for your business.
Next step: Creating Better Business Websites...