The panic set in two weeks before the industry seminar on personal branding I was scheduled to moderate. While reading some promotional material on the event, I saw that my bio didn’t include a web address for my new company. Then came the realization that my new company didn’t have a website.
Knowing what an idiot I would look like in a few short weeks, I quickly moved into DEFCON 1-mode to rectify things. My personal brand needed some attention!
A website is the delivery system of your business’s brand. A good website attracts and increases traffic over a sustainable period of time, converting suspects into prospects into customers. The last time I thought about website strategy was back when I was still using a BlackBerry 850. My old company had a team of people working on our site full time. Now I’m on my own. It was time to bone up on things.
Once I realized that the color of the navigation bar was not the place to start, here is what I learned about building my new website:
Is it mobile? Americans spend an average of 2.5 hours per day on mobile devices, accounting for 60% of total digital media time; 57% of them will not recommend or use a company that looks bad on their mobile device. If your site doesn’t function well on a phone, people are going to turn off your brand.
SEO rules. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a way of using code, text and graphics to increase the odds that your site is at the top of the list when someone searches the Internet. SEO is a very complicated puzzle and no one piece can guarantee high rankings. Since 90% of buying decisions are based on Internet research, it’s important to have an SEO plan. Higher rankings plus more site visits equals more customers.
Domain age is one factor that will affect your SEO rankings. Search engines give preference to old domains, so it’s critical to keep the one you’re using. Changing your address is like starting from scratch, like I am doing.
Converting your guests. Few people have individual IP addresses, so it’s impossible to know precisely who is visiting by looking at traffic statistics alone. You need content-rich pages that encourage people to give information about themselves—an email address—in exchange for something valuable like a whitepaper or access to a compelling industry blog. The day you hook them is the day they become prospects.
Minding the store. At minimum, I’m hoping everyone reading this will do a quick audit of their website strategy by asking some basic questions. How often is your content updated? Is there any reason for a visitor to come back to your site? What pages are people looking at and for how long? Would you do business with yourself based on your online experience?
Who is minding the store? Managing a company’s website strategy is a huge job even for the seasoned marketer. Frank the IT intern isn’t remotely qualified to manage the epicenter of your brand.
It was impossible to get an effective website up in two short weeks, so a “Coming Soon” landing page would have to suffice as a “brand Band-Aid” for my new business until I get my act together. It allowed me to downgrade to DEFCON 5, but it didn’t let me off the hook. On my agenda now: website design.
Mike McCarron is the president of Left Lane Associates, a firm that specializes in the “monetizing” of transportation companies. A 30-year industry veteran, he founded MSM Transportation, which he sold in 2012. Mike can be reached at [email protected] or at 416-931-7212, or follow him on Twitter: @AceMcC.