Thinking about updating your website? Good. Because improving your website is always a smart thing to do. If you’ve been in business for more than a few years, your website should be at about v5.0 or greater (if you’re still struggling to put out v1.0, we seriously need to talk).
Your website should act as the linchpin for all your marketing efforts, whether online or offline. Most people today have their favorite search engine right in their pocket. And your website should clearly communicate your brand. While many established businesses fully recognize the importance of expressing their brand through their website, we’ve noticed many do not.
And that’s a shame.
Yes, You Do Have a Brand
If you’re a small business, you may be thinking “We’re not big enough to have a brand.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. Every business has a brand. In fact, realizing what your brand is and properly expressing it helps you grow. The process of branding can actually lead to innovation and serve your customers and your target market better.
Making sure your website reflects your brand does two things: It builds up relationships with your current customers, and it builds prospects' confidence in you enough to turn them into customers. Continually building up the relationship between you and your current customers through branding helps build repeat purchases and referrals. Connecting to prospects in the right way through your brand drives them to action, whether it's a purchase, phone call, social media engagement, or email. Beginning conversations with prospects is key to converting them.
As you consider re-launching or re-designing your website, the first order of business is consideration of what your brand is. This should happen before you even decide on a website update. Once you’ve confidently established your brand, it should dominate the direction of your website’s design, copy, and usability all during the development process.
Brand Power: Know What a Brand Is… And What It Isn’t
When accurately expressed, your brand becomes your most powerful ally. Remember that your brand is not what YOU say it is, but rather the summation of what others (customers and prospects alike) say it is. Of course, your interpretation of how you serve your customers and your position against competition is a good starting point. But it’s just that – Point A on your branding journey. Digging deeper will help your brand come into focus. And your purpose and mission will become clearer, too.
The first place prospects typically find you is your website, and that’s why determining and expressing your brand through it becomes critical. Determining your brand may be a bit “touchy-feely” for some, but getting it right often means the difference between success and failure. If you’ve never thought about your business this way, the first place to start is knowing what your brand is.
Where to Turn
If you're unclear about how to begin this process, start asking questions. The most helpful answers will come from your customers. Ask why they chose to buy from you. Ask what problems you were able to solve for them. Ask what was strong about what you offer and what differentiated you from the competition. And don’t be afraid to ask about your limitations or apprehensions they had.
The next most important group are your employees; especially those who interact with both customers and prospects. They can help open the door to face-to-face interaction with your customers. Plus, if they deal with current and potential customers daily, those employees can provide insight into customer needs. And they can help shed light on how your target market perceives your company. Often, some of the best insight about your brand (and ad copy ideas, too) come from the stories your customers have about how your company solved their problem or distinctly met their need.
This may sound like harvesting testimonials, and to a certain extent, that’s true. Often what you hear from customers about their purchases can be used for testimonials. But it goes deeper than that. If you’re able to peel away the layers and peer deep down into the customer decision process, you’ll better understand their issues, their needs, and how your business was uniquely able to serve them. In some instances, you can discover an underserved segment or untapped market where you can leverage advantage.
How An Agency Can Help
An agency experienced in branding can help you along this journey. They can look at your customer base, offer ideas for starting conversations and building relationships with them, conduct focus groups with prospects similar to your customers, and provide expertise in determining your brand. Branding can be difficult, and as we mentioned, getting it right is of critical importance. A professional agency experienced in brand determination and exposition can help you clear those hurdles and set you on a path to higher website conversions and better ROI - for all your marketing efforts.