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Building websites is not hard. Pretty much anyone with access to a computer, some rudimentary HTML skills, and some basic understanding of the way the internet works can build a website.

We’ve established that everyone should have a website in our post on Digital Sharecropping – “Digital Sharecropping is Dangerous“. Not everyone asks the follow up question though.

What is your website doing for you? Is it generating leads? Is it creating opportunities? Is it helping to build your brand?

This is where a digital strategy comes in. Your website is like any other tool in your business, you need to look at it, analyze it, and make sure that it’s delivering results for you.

We believe that your website is the best, cheapest method of marketing you have available to you. It’s also an incredible lead generation tool if you use it correctly. If you use it incorrectly, your website is nothing more than a brochure at best, and at worst can actually be harming your brand.

In over 20 years of building websites, it boggles my mind how many people put hours worth of thought into the exact shade of orange that is on their website, but pay no attention at all to who is coming to their site, and what they should be doing with those people once they’re on the site.

The parts of an effective digital strategy:

Measurement

Before you can get started, you need to know where you currently are. We analyze your existing website to see what keywords it’s ranking for, how those compare against your competition, how much traffic you are currently getting, and where it is coming from.

Conversion strategy

A website that doesn’t create leads is not a website. That’s just a brochure. At the barest of minimums your website should have a contact us form that allows a reader to get in touch with you, but that’s not enough.

If you have content, you need to convert readers into subscribers. There was a time where you could simply put a “subscribe for updates” link on your website and magic would happen.

Unfortunately marketers ruin everything, and you now need to create some sort of lead magnet that encourages someone to give you their information. This item needs to be a high value product because an email address is one of the most precious things that a person has. Giving you access to it is a privilege.

Funnel management

A lead is not an opportunity. A lead is just a name on a list. What you’re really looking for are opportunities. An opportunity is a qualified lead. That means that you’ve figured out that they are interested in your product/service, you know some details about them, and understand where they are in the buying cycle.

Every lead needs some type of warming, whether this is an individualized personal message to every lead who comes in, or a full fledged lead marketing automation system.

Content strategy

Since beginning with our content strategy in January 2017, we’ve seen tremendous benefits. For one thing, we’ve finally articulated our value proposition, what is it that NorthIQ does better than anyone? In short, we are masters of digital strategy.  Your content strategy has three key ingredients:

  • What insights can you offer that nobody else can?
  • How are you a leader in your field?
  • How will you get your information out to the most people?

We’ve got a multi-pronged approach here at the NorthIQ headquarters. Right now we’re blogging, we also do weekly updates on social media, and we’re sending out a monthly email.

We are going to be adding weekly Q&A live Facebook meetings, and eventually we would like to get to monthly live webinars.

Social media strategy

A social media strategy looks at where your target customers are, how you can best reach them, and what kind of content they’re looking for on each platform.

  • How will you use social media?
  • What channels will you use (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, podcasts, or other even cooler platforms).

We are big proponents of funnelling people back to your site, but some content types (like YouTube and Facebook video) are most successful on their own platform, so you need to understand how to generate leads out of those channels.

Messaging strategy

Who are you trying to reach, and how will you reach them? We create personas for our messaging strategy because it helps us to visualize how these people want to engage with you.  A 18 year old college student uses their phone in different ways than a 65 year old recent retiree. A 45 year old office worker may be reading your content on their laptop during lunch, while a 45 year old home renovator is probably reading your content on their phone during their lunch break.

Understanding who your audience is, helps you understand how to craft your message, and where to put it.

Ongoing Analytics

You need to constantly monitor what your digital strategy is doing for you and adjust it to make sure you’re getting the results you need.  If your goal is to get 60 leads in a year, and you’re generating less than 5 leads a month, there is no way you will make your goal. If your goal is to hit a certain threshold of “likes”, then you need to monitor what content is generating that number of likes, and how you can adjust your content to meet your goals.

The takeaway:

Every business needs a website, but without a digital strategy, your website might not be anything more than a brochure.

You need to understand where you are starting from, what your targets are, and you have to build a strategy around these goals.

Anything else is just thoughts and prayers.

Brian Garside has been building websites for two decades and has worked on some of the largest websites in Canadian media. He focuses on creating good user experiences and building websites that make their owners money. Brian is certified in blogging and content marketing from Shaw Academy.