We don't need to tell you that competition in the digital world is fierce. Part of the battle is making sure your target market know about you and know how to find you. But once they've arrived at your site, how do you ensure they stick around? How do you ensure they feel the impetus to engage with the content you're presenting them with? And how do you ensure your visitors act in the way you'd like, for example, make a purchase, complete a contact form, or download a brochure?
It’s modern-day marketing. It's undertaking a proven process that answers all of these ‘how’s' in order to offer visitors a well-planned, well-considered site that is backed by data and a thorough knowledge of your market.
For us, this is the result of our ‘5Ds'. This is the framework we use with our clients so that our services and project processes can be clearly defined and understood. This is what we want to share with you in this series of blog posts that we're launching today.
If you're considering a brand new website, a website relaunch, or any sort of digital project, we hope these posts will help to:
- Share best practice
- Show what happens at each stage of the process, and why
- Do away with confusing industry jargon
- Answer some commonly asked questions
- Inspire you to apply the methodology to your own site
It's a thorough process, but we know your time is a precious commodity. We have scaled it accordingly to ensure you get everything you need from these posts. Expect:
- A series of easy-to-digest blog posts – each one covering a different stage of the 5D process
- One beautifully-designed, downloadable ebook overviewing the complete process
So, let's get cracking. The first part of the process is ‘Discovery'.
When heading into a digital or website project, don't underestimate the research and the planning involved.
If you're aiming for success (with your website), there's one stage of the project process that will underpin all the others: Discovery. Without this, everything else you do will be built on a very rocky foundation; we can't stress enough how important this is. So, what does it involve?
The Discovery stage is split into four areas, and shows:
- Competitor Research – How your site compares to its competitors
- Audience Analysis – All sorts of interesting intel about your customers and potential customers
- Analytics Audit – How visitors currently interact with your site
- SEO Audit – Whether your site is optimised to perform well in search engines
How does your site stack up against the competition?
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes: what do they see when they visit your competitors’ site? Is it easier to navigate than yours? Does it feel more user-friendly, does the copy read well and does the site offer the customer what they need? There are so many questions that arise when conducting competitor research – these are just a few to get you thinking from the ‘other side of the fence'.
“We review competitor websites to see what works and what doesn’t. We take inspiration from those who are nailing it and learn lessons from those doing… not so great.” – Julian Dye, Digital Designer, LEAP
When the competitor research is complete, our project team then have a solid standpoint from which they can see where your strengths lie, what weaknesses there might be and what opportunities are available for the taking.
How do you intend to get people to buy your product or service, if you have no idea who those people are?
Imagine standing on the high street and lassoing a random group of passers-by. What's the likelihood that any of those people will want what you're selling? Slim-to-none is the answer. Because your approach is completely scattergun, and that's no way to target customers and potential customers online, either.
It's crucial to understand and define your target audience. You need to know who your target audience is, what they need and what drives them. The more detailed information you have about your target audience, the better you can address their needs through key messaging, the information architecture of your site, the user experience and the overall design.
Give people what they want, not what you think they want.
So how do you do that? Talk to your customers. Get to know them. Survey them, ask for feedback, conduct interviews and use this information to construct user personas. Typically, you'll have more than one user persona – often it's between three and five. You need to put the effort in to create them, but once you have these in your arsenal, all your other marketing activity becomes so much more effective.
Persona analysis is the means by which you'll create the right message, for the right person, through the most appropriate channel. Create a campaign without knowing who you're targeting, and we're back to lassoing people on the street. I don't need to tell you that 1. That's not a good idea, and 2. It's not going to end well. Don't do it.
Make decisions based upon real data, not assumptions.
I'm sure you've heard, data is now the world's most valuable commodity. Crazy, isn't it? When you're dealing with a precious resource, you want to make sure you take care over it.
The data your website is capable of collecting has the potential to underpin many of the important decisions you will make about your business. At a basic level, you should ensure:
- Your website analytics is set up and configured correctly
- The appropriate goals and objectives are being tracked
Doing this will allow you to gather insight from all your current website visitors. You will be able to see how they behave on your site: how long they spend on each page, which pages they favour and how many of your visitors go on to complete a desired action, e.g. make a purchase or an enquiry.
The SEO Audit provides focus and direction for your content strategy. If search engines can't find you and don't know what you're about, neither will your online customers.
To give your website the best possible chance of ranking higher in search results, you need to look at your website structure and the content within it. Does your existing website tick the box in terms of what your target audience is looking for and – equally as important – are you communicating that effectively to search engines.
“Having a nice looking site is one thing, getting people there is another. You can't just open the door and expect people to stumble across you.“
– Nick Morley, Digital Consultant, LEAP
This is one of the more technical aspects of the Discovery stage and can involve SEO competitor analysis, a full technical audit of your existing website, thorough keyword research and a content review. At LEAP, the SEO Audit is presented as a detailed report that offers recommendations and further content opportunities to make sure your site delivers its best. We tailor the audit, depending on whether you have an existing site, to understand how this is currently performing, to provide you with the right information to set you up for success when building a new site from scratch.
So what have we learnt from the Discovery stage of the process?
Let's wrap up what we have covered:
- Do your research
- Do use the data
- Do ensure your site communicates effectively to both visitors and search engines
- Don't lasso people
If you have any questions about any part of the Discovery process, please get in touch. Leave us a comment, or drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check back in a few weeks for the next instalment in the series, where we start to build out using all the research from the Discovery stage. See you there!