Why a website is still important
You need a home on the web where anyone can go to find out about you, your books and your business. And in spite of all the hype surrounding social media, the best general-purpose online home is still a website.
- Anyone can access it, anytime
- It’s open to search engines
- You can do more things with a website than with any other digital marketing tool
- You own the website address and control the content — unlike social networks, for instance, which own the web address and restrict what you can do with your content
It’s the sometimes-unglamorous Swiss army knife of digital marketing and it forms a central hub that draws the other strands together. For this reason, you need to give it the attention it deserves, especially in areas that affect its usefulness as a marketing tool.
Website Marketing Audit: Check that your website is marketing-ready
Many websites were built without a sound understanding of their use in supporting an active digital marketing program. If this sounds like your website, here is a simple marketing audit checklist for your website and some tips on how to make it more effective as a marketing tool.
#1. Goals: Focus the website on delivering key marketing goals
#2. Content management: Make sure you can update the site easily
#3. Content sharing: Make it easy to share website content
#4. Usability: Design for readability — and small screens
#5. Search engine friendliness
A simple, immediate improvement — make a great ‘About’ page
The About page is a staple of all websites and many people treat it as just a service page that every website must have. But it’s not, and on most small websites the About page is one of the most visited pages on the site, often the most visited page after the home page. People want to know who they’re dealing with and after years of using the internet, they’ve learned that every website has an About page. Often these are first-time visitors who’ve just bounced on to your site from a search engine and might not read anything else.
Here are some ways to take maximum marketing advantage of a great About page.
- Link to it prominently. Don’t just bury a small link to your About page at the foot of the page. A good place is often right next to the Home link so you can’t miss it.
- Craft it carefully. Put some time into crafting it; add some images as well as text, and use it to sell. Don’t just treat it as a dull, factual bio.
- Use it to promote other parts of your site. Place links on it to other high value parts of your site so these visitors (who might not have come via your home page) spend more time looking. For instance, if you’re building an email list, add a sign-up box to the About page, or a hyperlinked call-to-action that goes to your sign-up page (‘Sign-up for a preview of my new book, coming soon’). Weave in text links to other pages on your site so they’ll click on them as they read about you.
New website or website makeover
If your website was built without meeting some or all of these four key requirements, it might be time to consider a makeover, or even a new website.
But first, review your market and consider your wider digital marketing strategy and goals. Your website — and your allocation of resources to use it effectively — will be more effective if it’s designed to support your overall plan.
HubSpot’s Marketing Grader (http://marketing.grader.com). Now that you’ve reviewed your website, try this free online tool. It will analyze your website and deliver a report that grades its marketing-readiness and offers tips on where it works and where it can be improved.
Find out more about this topic on our Digital Publishing 101 useful resources site.