What’s your purpose in life? It’s an age old question, one which everyone asks themselves at least once. The conclusions vary, but the fact remains that most people strive to live in a way that allows them to fulfill that purpose and reach certain goals.
You should be asking yourself the same question when building content marketing strategies for your website, as you decide what the purpose should be and what goals to measure against.
I’m lucky to discuss this very question with marketers and it’s amazing the myriad answers I receive. Now, many marketers have specific purposes in mind for their websites, including tangible goals like lead generation, ecommerce, membership enrollment. Others look for intangible goals such as education and thought leadership. I see a lot of people completely changing the purpose of their websites – i.e. from a brochure site to one that generates revenue directly. Many are still trying to answer this question entirely.
Whether you already know your website’s true purpose or need help finding it, philosophers through the millennia have provided us with golden nuggets of wisdom that you can use to decide or improve upon your goals.
“An unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates (469 – 399 B.C.)
Poison hemlock couldn’t stop Socrates from bestowing a first piece of advice to businesses searching for the right website goal. Before anything else, it is imperative you know everything about your own business. You should be consistently appraising what products, services or solutions your organization offers and how they offer value to your customers in order to build goals around them.
Here are a couple of examples:
- Lead Generation: What does a conversion mean for your business? Is it a whitepaper download, a free trial or someone contacting your 800 number?
- Ecommerce: What information are your prospects looking for regarding your products? Do they care about specs, pictures or just the price?
- Thought Leadership: What’s the most important types of information your audience is expecting? How can you leverage your internal resources or expertise to provide this to your site’s visitors.
Data is your friend here, and whether you have a pre-determined direction for your website, are looking for a new one or haven’t even decided yet, you need to do a thorough examination of the current state of your business as a whole to find the right answers.
“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment” – Lao Tzu (604 – 531 B.C.)
As the founder of Taoism and probably the oldest known philosopher, Lao Tzu knows a thing or two about finding purpose. For the sake of this guide, we are going to focus on the first part of the quote: Knowing how your competitors use their websites will help you refine your own goals.
Here are some questions to ponder:
- If you consider lead generation as a goal, what do your competitors compel their visitors to do when on the home page?
- From a thought leadership standpoint, what kinds of content are they publishing and what they are trying to accomplish with it?
- How does your competitor have a shopping cart set up on its ecommerce site? How are products featured, and what information does the website provide?
By gathering this “wisdom” you will be in the best position to understand how your competitors use their websites, and improve upon it with yours. For instance, if you don’t find your competitor’s calls to action particularly effective, use your observations about what isn’t working to make yours better. Also, the content that they offer may not live up to what your audience is expecting, which leads us to our next point.
“What one does not wish for oneself, one ought not to do to anyone else; what one recognizes as desirable for oneself, one ought to be willing to grant to others” – Confucius (551 – 479 B.C.)
Confucius has seen a revival of popularity in the last century or so thanks to fortune cookies and Chris Farley skits. However he has been parodied of late, Confucius’ wisdom is undeniable, and marketers should take his advice when considering the goals of their websites. That’s because, regardless of the goal, your website needs to provide your prospects and customers with the answers to the questions they’re asking. What happens when you go to a website that doesn’t give you what you want – you leave.
The best way to understand what your audience wants is to ask – on a sales conversation, at events, during a client meeting. Here are some examples of potential asks and what you can do in response:
- If people are constantly asking where they can find out more about your products on the site, maybe it’s time to provide a video, a product related eBook or a white paper.
- If you find your sales staff is always being asked the same “how to” questions, provide some insightful resources to answer those questions in order to build trust and rapport immediately.
- If you are selling products directly through the site but your customers say it’s difficult to find pricing, make sure to ask what would make it easier and update appropriately.
By acknowledging and providing what your prospects and clients are asking for on your site, you’re ensuring that your site offers value at every visit.
“Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca (65 B.C. – 4 A.D.)
Roman stoic, Seneca, may not be as old or well-known, but it doesn’t mean his advice is any less sage. Ultimately, once you have determined the purpose/goal of your website, it is time to set a path to get there. This can be done by setting both smaller, short-term achievements as well as more substantial, long-term objectives.
Identify what metrics are most critical to your end goal and establish benchmarks to measure how your website currently stacks up. Once you do this, keep up with goal tracking to make sure your ship hasn’t sailed off course as you make progress toward fulfilling that purpose.
Determining the purpose of your website is difficult and not an endeavor that should be with great haste. It’s easy to make mistakes and choose goals that may not be the best fit for your business. The best way to avoid this is to understand your business inside and out, do your homework on what your competitors are doing as well as what your prospects and customers want. And always – set a path for success.
And if you need a little extra encouragement, just remember what our friend Lao Tzu said – “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
To learn more about building marketing strategies around your goals, check out these related resources: