How to Determine Goals for an Effective Website Project
Last updated on
I think we’re finally to the point where almost all business owners know that the internet is pretty important and that they should have a web presence. For some, this is where it stops – they know they need it and that’s it.
Like most marketing (yes, your website is marketing for your business), it’s important to have a strategy in place to help you with defining your goals. Without this, your website will not be as effective as it could be.
Strategy Comes First
You’ve gotten to the, “you know you need a website” point and you’re ready to take steps to make it happen. Before you look into doing that yourself or hiring a professional to do it for you, it’s important to fully understand who the website is for.
It may seem like you’ll be building the website for your company but that’s not exactly the case. Your company will certainly benefit from the website. It may improve your company’s image. It may help you sell more products or services. However, the site itself is for your customers or clients and don’t ever forget that.
So the first step, is to ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is your target market? (note: you may actually have more than one)
- Who is your ideal customer or client? (note: you may actually have more than one ideal customer too)
I differentiate between the overall target market(s) and the ideal customer(s) (sometimes called the buyer persona). Plenty of businesses assume that their product or service can be beneficial to everyone. While that’s a nice idea, and it might even be true in some way, it’s not feasible to market to everyone. You need strategy to target your audience.
Your target market may be more broad. For example: 20 to 40 year olds with disposable income who like outdoor activities. Your ideal customer is much more specific. For example: a 30 year old male who works in the tech industry, who lives in the Pacific Northwest, who enjoys hiking and camping, who is concerned about the environment and sustainability, who would not think $50 is too much to pay for your product if it solves a need for them, etc. Don’t be afraid of being too specific during this process. It may seem like by narrowing your customers down like this you might lose business, but it’s important to understand the strategy going on here. You absolutely do want to narrow in on that perfect customer because if you tailor your marketing (and website) to speak to them, what they like to do, what their concerns are, and so on, you’re more likely to not only gain their attention, but also their business.
While this process can get quite involved, this article isn’t meant as a tutorial but simply to make you aware of the importance of your target market and ideal customer. There’s plenty of resources on the web to help you through the process. Additionally, many marketing and design agencies can walk you through this process before starting on your website.
The Number 1 Goal of Your Website…
Once you have both your target market and ideal customer thoroughly defined, you’ve laid the groundwork to also define your first website goal: to connect with your target market.
This is an important first goal because everything about your website needs to be crafted with this information in mind. You should be able to answer the following basic questions to ensure your number 1 goal is met:
- Why should your target market/ideal customer care about your company?
- What are the top problems your target market/ideal customer faces and how does your company offer a solution to those problems?
- What language and imagery can be used to connect with your target market/ideal customer? (think: what do they like, what do they want to see/hear and how does that relate to your business/service)
Remember: Everything about your website must always keep the target market/ideal customer in mind.
If you are having trouble answering those, it might be wise to invest in the services of a professional marketing person or design agency (agencies often have a marketing aspect, so they can help you with that and the actual website development). If you have the time to research, the internet is filled with information, and I never discourage anyone from learning.
Also, try not to personalize this process too much. By that I mean, always be looking at your website and what goes on it from your customer’s perspective. When you start to get into your own personal preferences, likes, and dislikes, you can quickly spiral off into creating your website just for you, and not your customers.
The Rest of the Goals …
I’m sure you were expecting a nice, tidy list here. However, there isn’t a set number of goals. What is important, is to work through the same type of strategy and process as on the first goal to come up with the rest of your goals.
For instance, I’m sure almost every business out there has, “make more sales/do more business” as a goal. The problem with a broad, generic goal like this is really that it’s too broad and generic. There’s no strategy behind it at all. How will you make more sales? Most importantly, how will your website help you to make more sales?
I’ve worked with a lot of businesses that were hung up on this one question. They knew they wanted more business, but didn’t know how to make it happen. It’s often a difficult question to find an answer to, especially when you’re unsure how your website is going to do this for you. The real truth of the matter is that your website may be central in your success, but there are other services involved as well, and they will vary based on your business and how you define your other goals.
Let’s continue to use our generic example goal of, “make more sales/do more business”. Two basic questions that may help you define that better could be:
- How can I drive targeted (targeted = traffic from people in your target market) traffic to the website?
- What content can drive my target market at every stage in the buying cycle (or purchase funnel)?
Here is where those other services come into play big time. Simply having a website does not mean people are going to flock to it and you’ll increase your business. Even if that website was created strategically, with your customers in mind, if they can’t find it, it’s not a very effective marketing tool for you. Those other services may include:
- Search engine optimization
- Online advertising
- Pay per click advertising
- Content marketing (creating content specifically for your audience in every stage of the buying cycle)
- Social media campaigns
- Grassroots marketing such as contests and giveaways
- In person networking such as conventions and local networking groups
- Print advertising
While I agree 100% that having a well-designed, modern, website that presents your brand to your target market effectively is very important, saying that a website alone will solve every goal for you is misleading simply because you need additional marketing services to ensure people get to that strategically created website.
The Wrap Up …
Again, this article isn’t meant as a tutorial, but rather a simple guide that will:
- get you thinking the right way (strategy, specifics, definitions, etc.).
- make you aware that everything hinges off of you taking the time to define and understand your potential customers first.
- illustrate how important supporting marketing services are to your overall website success and attainment of other goals.
Hopefully, this will enable you to at least take that first step in ensuring that your website will be an effective marketing tool for you.
Learn More About: