Since the advent of the Information Age, the marketing landscape has undergone a radical transformation. Pre-internet, businesses used to be in control of their relationships with customers, and could use the traditional sales funnel model to push prospects through the stages of awareness, familiarity, consideration, and eventual purchase.
An effective marketing and sales strategy typically consisted of a nifty ad and jingle combined with a safesforce trained to ’close the sale’ through face-to-face relationship building. This model worked well—until the onset of the internet led customers to begin exerting their own preferences about their engagement with companies.
Widespread internet access and social media now allow individuals to explore and interact with brands more rigorously through countless numbers of tools, marketing channels, and online communities. Given this explosion of outlets for a brand to be researched, spoken about, and contacted directly, it is essential for organizations to evolve and place themselves in the center of the online journey that a consumer has with a brand.
This means that marketing now must extend beyond the simplistic days of a paid ad and handshake in an ’offline’ world, and evolve into a company-wide effort that is consumed with providing a positive online experience no matter where the touch-point takes place.
Given this backdrop, the logical question then becomes, what can I do to ensure my online presence is up to snuff so not to be left behind? To answer this question, let’s look at the most important actions you can take today to transform your website.
Gone are the days of a prospect visiting your office and touring your facility to earn more about your offerings. In today’s internet era, your website is your online storefront to the world and needs to be optimized for engagement and conversation. To pull this off, craft a unique message that explains to website visitors how you differ from your competition. Why did you start your business? Why should your website visitor care—what’s in it for them? It’s important to humanize your message and avoid using corporate speak that says nothing.
Once your message is finalized, you need to think about design, especially given the aesthetic nature of the jewelry industry. The most compelling message in the world will get overlooked if it is not presented in the right way. Some best practices for stand out website design include a flat design without stylistic characteristics that detract from the content and message, unique (but legible) typography, long scrolling home pages, large phooto animations and transitions, and easy navigation.
In addition, studies have shown the benefits of leveraging video to tell your story as it cuts through the clutter in an emotional, personalized way with which words cannot compete. At my own company, we showcase more than 10 videos on our website with customer testimonials, case studies, and vignettes, and I can’t tell you the number of potential customers who’ve called and said, “I saw your video and it compelled me to call.”
In addition to looking good, your website needs to be device-friendly in today’s mobile world. Any website that does not have a responsive design (meaning that it is coded only for a desktop environment and not for viewing on a smartphone or tablet) feels extremely dated and, more important, will provide a sub-par user experience that will not convert as many visitors into paying clients. In addition, Google penalizes organizations whose websites are not mobile-friendly with lower search rankings, limiting your website’s ability to generate traffic and produce leads.
Finally, once your website beautifully expresses your message in a way that will appear perfectly on any viewing device, it’s time to make sure prospects can find it. The first step is to optimize the site itself for search engines.
A few tips to ensure Google is rewarding you for your site’s relevancy to its users’ searches include creating a sitemap for Google spiders to find when crawling your site, using alt-tags to describe your images, providing fresh content through a blog or press releases (including meta and title tags unique to each page), and having keyword-rich content sprinkled throughout the site’s subpages for Google to deem you an authority on the search terms.
Once strengthened, your website can serve as the bedrock for your online presence might feel a bit overwhelming, the thought of not equipping your company to compete in an arean where your future customers are playing is worse than overwhelming—it’s reckless.