It's 2012. You've got a website, you've put some tracking code in to see how you're doing. All good so far.
But wait. Your traffic isn't growing and you're certain that with the visitors you have, more should be converting into customers.
So what do you do? How do you take what you've got and really make it successful? I mean more visitors, more customers, more turnover. More success!
Do you redesign it? Do you get some search engine optimisation done? Do you start blogging and tweeting? And if you do any or all of these things then how do you know if it's really working?
It's difficult to know what to do, because depending upon who you talk to you'll get different advice.
If you talk to a design agency, it's a design problem.
If you talk to an SEO company, it's an optimisation problem.
If you talk to a PR agency, it's a PR problem.
To answer this, it looks like we need to go back in time!
Let's zoom back to 1996 in our DeLorean (if you're going to build a time machine, you might as well build it in a DeLorean right?)
First stop. Design Agency. 1996.
In 1996 websites were seen simply as online brochures. The design and structure of websites was geared around explaining business activities and products from the businesses perspective. Copy was generally written by product or marketing managers to communicate important features.
Today, successful businesses understand that they must engage with customers by listening and solving their problems, focusing on benefits whilst building trust and maintaining relationships.
Strong and consistent branding is still important as it helps to position and differentiate, making sure that any communication has maximum impact and that brand communications are mutually supportive.
However, it is the content that is crucial in developing and maintaining customer relationships. Repeatedly redesigning around stale content will undermine brand consistency and strength.
Time machine tip: Strong consistent branding adds value across multiple communications and maximises content investment.
Second stop. SEO agency. 2004.
As people came to rely on search engines to find stuff, businesses came to rely upon search engines to get found. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns were two ways to get in front of people on the web.
Back in the day, an SEO company would help you to understand the search phrases your customers use and to restructure your website to align your content to these search phrases. Then build back links from other websites to get your pages to rank well for your prospects searches.
If you were creating great content that naturally attracted links from other websites, Google loved you and your traffic grew. If you were buying links to 'brochure' pages on your website, you spent your time dodging Google's algorithm changes.
Yes, it's important to get ranked in search engines. But the content that you rank with is more important. Because when somebody clicks through to your page, they are either going to be engaged and want more from you. Or they are going to click away. Disappointed.
Think content strategy. Search is still massively powerful, we've got our branding and tone of voice from 1996, let's pick up our content strategy from 2004!
Time machine tip: Google is in the business of helping people to find the content they want. If you make it your business to create and deliver content that your customers want and need, you win.
Back to the time machine and..
Third stop. Business blogging. 2008.
Everyone knew that they should have a business blog, to keep their website up to date, to get people to come back maybe even make their website a destination.
But many struggled to find the time to create the content, or spent time creating posts that didn't add value and saw little return on the time and effort invested.
Interestingly, those that did find success in blogging, did so by aligning the content they created with the search terms they knew that their potential customers used to research their marketplace. They added white papers and PDF ebooks that could be downloaded in exchange for a visitors contact details to create engagement and to identify business leads.
These tactics drew in the prospects who were using the web to research their purchases, the very people advertising was finding it increasingly difficult to reach.
But wait. On the subject of reach, we have one more stop before we go back to the future..
Fourth stop. Social media. 2009.
I'll confess, it took me a while to get it. "What good is a 140 character tweet going to do my business"? I said to myself back in 2009.
Well listen up, old me from the past!
It's about reach. And It's about influence. It's word of mouth on a global scale in real time. And building your own network that draws those with shared interests towards you. This is how it works...
Social media drives visibility for your blogging and content generation. Blogging and content generation drives the growth of your social media network. Both support your SEO strategy.
Creating strong, interesting content that helps and informs, and then sharing it, is incredibly powerful.
Got it? Well we're outta time... So let's get back to the future!
But before we land back in good old 2012. I want you to notice that over the years the conversation you have had with your customers has become less about trying to communicate the things that you do as a business, and more about delivering the things that your customers want. Think benefits, not features.
So here we all are, with our ingredients for success pilfered from across time. We've got our consistent brand identity, our content plan and a social media powered global publishing system.
Well, In my next post I'll be pulling it all together into 1.21 gigawatts of awesome success with the help of your friend and mine, AIDA.