Strategy, Structure and Support: The Three S’s of Website Success
By Redickaa Subramanian, CEO of Interakt Digital Communications Group
Companies can no longer afford to treat their corporate websites like works of art that can be hung up and admired from a distance. Today’s corporate website is a core capability — a living, breathing ambassador of the brand 24/7 — constantly attracting, engaging and interacting with the widest possible array of audiences. It can also be one of, if not the most powerful marketing assets and an integral channel for immersing your audiences in your brand experience — if strategically focused thinking prevails.
There are three essential components that will make your website work for you and contribute to your brand’s success. You must:
• Define your website’s strategic role in the overall business strategy
• Get the structural elements right
• Support the site for business success
Strategy: Keep the conversation going
Many organizations still view their website as a hygiene factor and fail to leverage it effectively as an engaging multi-way communication platform. Understanding the power of the Web, the multitude of digital formats and channels, and the role of each in the overall communication ecosystem is crucial to connecting with your audience and keeping them excited about your brand.
In a highly automated world, a little personalization goes a long way. Just as you would answer a customer’s question in-person, your website should provide your audience with all of the answers and also enable them to ask for additional assistance. Two-way communication is the key: listening and not responding is a sure way to push your audiences away. However you choose to continue the conversation, make sure it’s as personalized and intimate as possible — the digital equivalent of a direct, in-person experience.
Since your website serves as a home base, it is important to incorporate multiple channels and points of access to direct your audience in its direction. Further, it should allow your audience to effortlessly navigate through the pages to find what they need. To determine the strategy that works best for your audience, track the performance metrics of all touch points, whether you use display ads, QR codes or geolocation technology. Monitoring these channels will help to determine your consumers’ behavior and allow you to further optimize your site. Ideal optimization occurs when the Web design feels intuitive for every visitor, allowing each and every user to access the full website without leaving any questions unanswered.
Structure: Get the important elements right
As the digital behavior of an audience changes, platforms mature and expectations shift, a website’s structural elements must evolve as well. The following elements should be well thought out, multidimensional and strictly business-focused — but also flexible.
Mobile-friendly. Right now, all eyes are on mobile devices – and quite literally. If your website is not mobile optimized, you are losing credibility, functionality and potential customers. Period.
Content. Creating relevant, searchable and usable content remains an essential element. Ensure strong information taxonomy, efficient meta tagging and succinct messaging. To grab your audiences’ attention, look beyond the traditional delivery methods and get creative. Consider including podcasts, vlogs, Facebook integration, whitepapers or infographics.
Aesthetics. Create a rewarding user experience with an aesthetic quality that mirrors your brand identity. A visually appealing site that best reflects your brand is delivered through the intelligent use of typography, composition and imagery. Careful attention to these elements creates a positive user experience.
Tools and resources. Empower and enable your audience to take action and fulfill their needs with decision-making tools, including comparators, calculators, widgets and apps. Provide visitors with informational aids so no question is left unanswered.
Technology. Most businesses struggle in choosing the right platform that can best satisfy content management, community management, customer relationship management and order management. It may be hard to believe, but there are brands today using more than 25 content management systems for different sections of the website. This is a sure path to chaos and destruction of a unified experience.
As today’s digital devices are evolving and converging into a common destination, desktop and mobile are becoming unified into a single touch point. Make your website adaptive in content, device-agnostic and resolution-independent so the experience is universal.
Support: Create a strong management team
After choosing the proper tools for your website, the next step is enforcing internal accountability and empowering the right people to keep your website working for you.
Senior management must remain involved and set the expectation from the top down that the website is critical to realizing your business goals. It is important to understand your website’s long-term needs and what it will take to keep it relevant. Your website should always be perfectly aligned with your external branding and the messaging should be consistent across all channels and touch points.
Strategic website management requires a strong team — internally or externally — that understands your business and can merge creativity and technology to deliver content and design that pushes boundaries.
It’s time to take action
Today’s digital landscape is rapidly changing and not slowing down for anyone. While the website may be the linchpin, it cannot stand alone. Sustainable solutions in the digital world derive from a comprehensive digital strategy across all operations.
To survive and thrive in this competitive space, your digital strategy must be flexible, engaging and accountable. In the end, it is the combination of these elements and your business goals that will make the website work for you.
Redickaa Subramanian is the cofounder and CEO of Interakt Digital Communications Group. Redicka empowers global companies, including Ecolab, Citibank, The Estée Lauder Companies, Levi's and Hewlett Packard, to deliver their brand promise by aligning messaging across all audiences, channels and touch points.