Getting back to basics online

Websites should always be designed to deliver an engaging user experience. To succeed, marketers need an understanding of how online communication works and they need to be clear about how a business can serve the needs of its customers on the web

Websites should always be designed to deliver an engaging user experience. To succeed, marketers need an understanding of how online communication works and they need to be clear about how a business can serve the needs of its customers on the web.

The websites that are succeeding online are the ones that concentrate on the delivery of quality user experience, functionality and added value elements such as personalization to really engage with visitors. Savvy marketers are starting to concentrate on the 4Cs of web marketing (content, community, commerce and communication) and this is enabling businesses to deliver exactly what web visitors are after and realise some of the following key benefits:

  1.  Rapid go to market – in a controlled fashion. The great thing about a website is that you can tweak content and design whenever you want, at a relatively low cost compared to more traditional media. This means that your company can launch a webpage for a product or service which has the right content and basic functionality and ensure this delivers results by refining over time through testing and further development. Define which issues are development and which are maintenance and try to get rapidly to the maintenance stage for a well-defined project. Marketers have the freedom to move content around, test new ways of using images and video and go with the options that work best once the site is up.
  2.  Better integration with wider business processes. In this day and age, marketers are trying their best to make their websites emulate what consumers want. But they have to be careful not to lose sight of how the website will integrate with wider business processes and existing systems. This is especially important in cases where there is an existing CRM tool. Integrate your site with the CRM solution (which we have done at Episerver) and you can benefit from improved effeciency and better reuse of data for campaigns and communication with your target audience. Or it might be that the site needs to connect up to outbound mailing systems so that marketers do not have to re-enter the same information in multiple places. Finally, seeding information on social channels should also be considered. Reducing the number of times you need to login to publish your information is a key efficiency driver, allowing you to easily maintain all your channels.
  3. Clear return on investment. Analytics provide marketers with the tools to assess how successful an online campaign has been and, most importantly, how they can improve results in real-time and for future activities. By analysing certain aspects of a website, marketers can quickly personalise pages to better suit customer needs, for example tweaking a page that is experiencing high drop off. A little change can often make a big difference.
  4. Making campaign microsites generate long-term value. As mentioned earlier, a site doesn't need to be perfect when a product or service is launched; it just needs to have all the right content and basic functionality to be effective. This thinking can be transferred to campaign microsites too. These are a common marketing tactic for many companies, but rather than creating a temporary resource that has a very limited shelf-life, smart marketers are realising that these pages can be absorbed into wider, lasting online strategies that add value to visitors and gain important search visibility.
  5.  Prioritising accessibility to bring improved usability and better search visibility. Accessibility is a fundamental part of any website these days. If you incorporate this into your strategy at the start of the project, then you will benefit from it in the end. It is much more expensive to go back and change at a later stage. The deployment of accessibility standards and technologies can bring new benefits and opportunities for business advantage. Accessibility can also benefit a broader audience and improve website performance for users. Improved access and usability in turn broadens your website appeal and actively improves your users' experience online. It can also help you with search too as Google is increasingly favouring websites that have put the work in when it comes to accessibility. So not only will it help visitors to your site, it will help them find you in the first place.