By: Thomas Young
If you have had a successful business for any length of time, you have figured out how to meet the needs of your target market. Most successful companies are good at doing this offline, but many are seriously challenged in meeting customer needs through online marketing efforts. The challenge is to translate that success online to grow sales and stay competitive. This, then, is the secret and key ingredient for a successful online marketing strategy for most companies. Meet customer needs online the same way you meet their needs offline. This is easier said than done. Here are a few suggestions to help you meet this challenge and better meet customer needs online.
Start With Hot Buttons
Make the time to identify your target market’s needs and hot buttons. Talk to your sales team to help you clearly understand how you can help your target market do their job better or improve the quality of their lives. The good news is your business already does this! Identify these hot buttons and use them as key benefit statements on your website’s home page and throughout the site’s content pages. Start with the two or three most important and incorporate that content on your home page. This is what sets you apart and creates key conversion points for website visitors.
Translate What You Already Do Well
Your challenge is to translate to the web what your business does well. Use content on your website to communicate your unique competitive advantage or how you are different and better than other companies in your field. This should be clearly stated in your home page tagline and with photography, graphics and captions. Avoid the temptation to write generic marketing copy. Rather, get into the details of what makes your company stand out and do it briefly and to the point.
Keep it Simple
It’s not easy to keep it simple. Web marketing simplicity is strategic and takes discipline. Making things simple is actually hard work, but it brings great returns. Simplicity is also what your website visitors and prospective customers want. Website users are looking for simple and clear content with a call to action. In fact, visitors are more likely to select your company if their evaluation process is made easier when they spend time on your website. They are also more likely to select your company if they feel the process of working with you is easier then working with your competitors. This meets customer needs. People go online first to make their life easier and your website must support this goal.
Don’t Make Them Think
Users want to get what they need from websites without having to think too much about it. The process should be intuitive and simple. One of the leading books on website usability is actually called Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug, and is highly recommended.
Here are a few guidelines to follow to help website users think less:
- Use few clicks and scrolls on the site.
- Keep the site to three levels deep at the most.
- Make sure users never get lost as they navigate your site.
- Users should not have to leave to another website.
- Use photos, visual elements and scan-able text with captions.
- Include easy-to-find contact information and locations.
- Help people solve a problem and improve the quality of their lives.
Web Marketing Research
Talk to your website visitors to confirm their needs and take time to conduct user testing. This can be done cheaply and effectively on the website UserTesting.com. Ultimately, it is hard to meet user needs unless you analyze visitor data, talk to website users and conduct user testing. Remove the guess work and do the research.
Internet users are online for convenience. They are drawn to easy-to-use websites that meet their very specific needs. Meeting those needs are key objectives of your web marketing strategy and will be at the core of your success online.
- Summarize what your company does well into a tagline of eight to twelve words and three or four bullet points.
- Place that content on your home page.
- Conduct market research to keep it simple.
- Visit UserTesting.com and learn more about the fundamentals of website usability and user testing.
- Set up Google Analytics and monitor the data to track website usage.