There is no doubt that our website is a powerful marketing tool. But if we approach it with that attitude in mind we can do more harm than good.
Somewhere along the line we lost our way. We started treating the web like any other marketing channel. We had TV advertising, radio advertisements, printed material, and then the web. But the web is different and if we fail to recognise that we will alienate our prospective customers.
Why the web is different
There is a big difference between your site and other marketing channels.
There is a big difference between your site and other marketing channels. Those arriving on your site have already expressed an interest in what you have to offer.
Take a moment to think about it. If you take out a newspaper ad the people seeing that advert may have no interest in your product or brand. The aim of the advert is to grab attention and stimulate interest. The same is true for TV, radio, and almost any other traditional marketing channel.
But things are different online. Somebody chooses to visit your website. They have either clicked a link that looks interesting, entered a URL or followed a search query. In every case they have said “I have a need and am interested in how you can help fulfil it.”
Users are looking for answers to questions
When we use the web we have questions and are looking for answers. The job of a website is to provide those answers. Yet too often we are more interested in convincing them than answering their questions. This is ironic as the best way of convincing anybody is to address their concerns. This means answering any questions they have.
Once we have this mindset it completely changes the way we approach our website. We should not start from the premise of “what do we want to say?” We should begin with “what questions do users want us to answer?”
This mindset impacts everything from the structure of our site to the content of each pages. It even effects things like your strap line.