Today's customer is the most connected in history, creating an opportunity for marketers to optimize online interactions to deliver a true one-to-one experience that is relevant, builds customer loyalty, and drives sales. Marketers are doubling down on digital, as customers drive a massive migration from offline interactions to online. Consider the following:
- Forrester Research estimates that marketers will spend 26 percent of their total advertising budgets on digital marketing channels by 2016.
- According to Gartner, "digital marketing will be one of the top three imperatives on 100 percent of CEO agendas in 2013."
These statistics make it clear that it is essential to have a Web site optimized for the customer. Following are 15 things to consider to help ensure that your Web site (and business) is on the right track:
Brand personality. Text on your Web site should have a personality and resonate with customers while providing valuable content to aid in their purchase decisions.
Content design. When designing content, keep reading patterns and engagement in mind. Think of your page as an F-shaped pattern, in which people read across the page while skimming down.
Layout. Develop a layout that is visually appealing with digestible content, similar to that of a magazine. Provide relevant and informative content for free and make it highly visible and easy to navigate on your Web site.
Call to action. Place your call to action in an obvious place, and make sure it contains a button, graphic, or strong language, such as "How to grow your profits by 300 percent."
Heat mapping. See where customers are clicking on your Web site with heat mapping software. This will provide cues for where to place calls to action and which spaces need attention.
Staggering content. Support all levels of product knowledge by making basic content easily accessible at a glance and more complex content just a few clicks deeper.
Customer journey. Provide guidance for customers with product pages that offer specific, in-depth content, as well as deliverables like white papers, client stories, and blog posts as secondary calls to action.
Catering to the multitasker. Recommend multiple experiences on each page and enable visitors to view all forms of content in one place. Try integrating the following on one page to offer customers the most insight into your company:
- corporate message and brand voice;
- relevant blog content that complements the customer's topic of interest;
- any related product or client videos that provide further insight; and
- infographics to simplify key messages and add another perspective on products and thought leadership.
Blog search. Ensure your blog is searchable by adding multiple tags to each post that identify the type of content offered in the post.
Catalog search. Think of the search feature on your Web site as a library that pulls together all resources and types of content related to your products, including Web pages, blog posts, deliverables, videos, etc.
Relationship tools. Leverage social channels and customer voice to build a relationship with customers.
Social strategy. Include social strategies such as SlideShare, blogging, and Twitter to enhance each customer's Web experience and make all digital interactions feel seamless. Promote your Web site across your social channels and look at your social following to glean information on what is relevant to them and which pieces of content they most engage with.
Content testing. Use A/B testing to look at everything from which button is more appealing to which articles are accessed most by customers to identify best possible lead sources. Also consider the amount of time spent on your Website and where your Web traffic is originating.
Data analysis. Always keep data in mind to accurately track Web site results and successes.
Varied content. Continue to think of new ways to offer content, including things like a video series with a product manager answering 10 customer questions and providing insightful product information.
When a Web site is optimized, it can connect companies and customers through highly personalized digital experiences. Customers are embracing digital channels at a staggering rate, and every online interaction—including every Web site click—is a potential data point. Smart marketers are using this data, along with testing, analysis, and powerful content, to stay ahead of customers' needs and help them solve their biggest problems and challenges. Marketers have never been in a better position to lead a transformation in business.
Daniel Incandela serves as director of global digital marketing at ExactTarget, where he drives digital marketing strategy for the company across five continents. He recently led the relaunch of seven regionalized versions of exacttarget.com, complete with a new CMS.