By: Brian Thackston
I’ll be leading a short-form course at Betamore later this month. The course is titled: “Website Optimizations to Drive Conversions” and this guest blog post gives me a chance to provide a preview into what you’ll learn if you sign up.
So, I could start this post by stressing the importance of your website. I could talk about how your website needs to naturally attract traffic from search engines, where the majority of mobile and desktop internet users start their online journey. I could also talk about how you can use your website to enhance just about any kind of social media or email campaign. But I won’t be doing that here.
You already know your website is important. And you already know that most all good marketing things flow into your website. So instead of talking about you and your website, let’s use this post to cover something more important but less understood.
Let’s talk about your website’s audience and why you need to get to know them better if you want your website’s digital marketing to really start earning you new leads.
I’ll give you a sneak peek at how my course will teach you to attract your ideal audience and convert them into highly-qualified leads via your website.
Completing the full course will give you a better understanding into:
- Who your website’s audience actually is
- What your audience actually does when using your website
- Where your audience struggles when using your website
- When and why you should make changes to your website
And if you sign up for the full course, you’ll walk away with a ton of different documents to use for your website optimization efforts, like templates for:
- Auditing SEO, user experience, and other website components
- Collecting and sharing keyword research
- Prioritizing split-testing opportunities
- Structuring lead nurturing sequences
Any well-optimized website starts with understanding what the audience wants. From there, it turns to you and all the little things that make your business better than all the others competing for the same audience. But make no mistake: you’re not your website’s audience, so you better find out who actually is your audience and pay attention to what they’re telling you.
Why Your Website Should Be Built For Your Audience
Your website is a way for your audience to complete some kind of objective — buy something, apply for something, partner on something, be entertained by something, etc. Optimizing the journey your audience undertakes to complete your business’s objectives should be what shapes your website.
Now I believe this next point to be very important, which is why I’m repeating it: You are not your audience.
Your website’s audience consists of:
- the people who might do the things you want them to do, i.e. prospects
- the people who actually do the things you want them to do, i.e. leads, customers, and evangelists
Note: Your website shouldn’t stop considering people’s needs when they become leads or customers. In fact, automation and a well-optimized website will help you convert those people into evangelists and repeat customers, which can be a very high ROI form of earned marketing. But we’ll cover automation and the like later in the course.
For now, all you need to remember is that you are not your audience.
Your institutional knowledge, your assumptions, and all those other direct connections tying you and your website together can cloud your ability to clearly see things from your audience’s shoes. You simply gotta admit that you’re a biased MOFO who sorta suffers from habituation.
Famous ad man David Ogilvy even expressed some very real concern about a business’s inability to detach themselves from their business and see it like a prospect would. It’s why he cautioned his own employees at his ad agency against going on the “factory tour”; in On Advertising, he said that doing so could end up trapping you in the same narrow mindset as the business, rather than the wide-eyed mindset of your audience, where ad men want to be.
How To Listen To What Your Website Audience Is Telling You
Your website collects a ton of different feedback about your audience. The most obvious will be from Google Analytics or an equivalent website analytics platform; there’s plenty of ways to push and pull website analytics data into actionable insights for optimizing your audience’s experience.
But we won’t be ambiguously talking about using website analytics; website usage data is definitely one of the best ways to hear what your audience wants, but it’s far from being the only way (or even the easiest way) to get actionable ideas for making your website even better.
We’ll also be talking about collecting actionable data from:
- Self-reported data you can extract from your website and other places (e.g. surveys, polls, and the like)
- Observed data sources that you can compare with your own website experience assumptions (e.g. Google’s keyword search data, Nielsen’s audience data, etc.)
Painting the picture of your audience — whether it be a persona, a profile, or whatever machination helps you empathize with your audience — is the start of website optimization. But from there, you need to take that information, prioritize needs, and then transform it into a valuable, memorable website experience that keeps people coming back for more.
Where Your Insights Enter The Website Optimization Conversation
Guided by your audience data and institutional insight, your marketing team can more clearly promote what your website offers and why you’re different from everyone else offering the same thing.
This is where your creative team — the copywriters and designers and all the other one’s who lay the golden eggs behind your marketing campaigns — can direct their mental energies. Audience data and unique value propositions should coalesce into a sweet little diddy that stirs your audience’s emotions, empathizing with their needs while differentiating you from all other solutions.
Then when you have a website performance baseline, split-testing and iterative campaign development can get you real feedback directly from your audience about what could be even better. That way, you know if your website changes are actually improving the user experience or just rearranging chairs on a sinking ship.
When you’re confident that you know what your audience wants, you can start building out elaborate marketing automation systems to free up your team’s time and improve the quality of the leads you’re passing to sales.
If you’re not trying to listen to what your audience wants before you build them something, you risk overlooking a website defect that’s plainly obvious from the audience’s perspective.
Wrapping Things Up
Once again, your audience should define your website’s strategy. And you are not your audience; you need to find real people interested in your services and find out what they really want to do on your website.
This course (which you can register for here) will teach marketers of any skill level how to use a lot of different tools to identify their audience and track their journey through your website. And that journey is always going to be different, business to business and industry to industry. But if you know who to ask the right questions to and how to take action on the answers, then you’ll be able to successfully optimize your website for more conversions time and time again.
Want to learn more?
Join Brian Thackston for Website Optimization to Drive Conversions, a 3-week course that meets twice a week from July 18 through August 3.