How to Become a Tool: Make Your Website Useful

Every marketing director wants engagement with followers, visitors that return to the company website again and again. You're seeking brand recognition and conversions. To experience the fruition of these desires, your website must be more than informational. It must be useful!

Yes, information is constructive. However, it's more important that your website is meeting the needs of your site visitors, says Usabilla. "This is a basic principle of good usability. If your website goals are not compatible with the immediate needs of your visitors, and if your site doesn't generate potential sale leads, you should start to redesign your website as [an] effective marketing tool."

What does this mean for you as a marketing director? It means performance and functionality are as important as appearance. A beautiful website that meets the needs of your target customer nurtures long-term relationships. One with beauty minus utility may create a good first impression. However, the relationship might become the first and last date.

Where It Starts: Know Your Customer

This isn't new information, yet it remains central to every marketing strategy. Success only comes when you understand what your customer is seeking. If you can be the first to introduce something that fulfills that need within your market, wonderful. However, just because someone else has already come up with a solution first, doesn't mean you can't do it better. Learn a lesson from BlackBerry.

In 2003, the company's smartphone gained traction rapidly in the business market. It supported push email, mobile telephone, text messaging, internet faxing and Web browsing-just what traveling business people needed to stay connected. BlackBerry sales exploded.

However, it wasn't long before iOS and Android went one step further. They eliminated the need for an intermediary, so anyone with mobile data transfer capability could connect directly to any email server. As a result, BlackBerry's relevance in the market faded. Talk of the company's demise continues, because it's now only another one of the companies in the Android manufacturing business.

The takeaway is this: expect your customer's needs to change. In response, constantly look for opportunities to anticipate and fulfill those needs. Yes, this is challenging. However, there are tools and strategies you can use to gather insights. As any manufacturer will tell you, "You need tools to make tools."

Where It Continues: Evaluate Your Customer's Needs

Running a marketing campaign on instincts alone can lead to mixed results. It's better to combine instincts with facts, and the best way to gather actionable data is through tools. Here are some of the best.

Google AdWords - There are tools within Google AdWords that help you understand your customer's search behavior. For example, the Google Keyword Planner lets you test keywords you think your customers use to find you. In addition, you can narrow your testing to your local market or broaden it to the world. The results help you evaluate the potential effectiveness of your options.

Google Alerts - This is one of the best tools for capturing brand name mentions, competitor mentions or sector information. All you have to do is enter keywords to see the results. This is the type of information you can use to evaluate whether you are relevant and whether there are emergent opportunities or prospects you've overlooked.

Google Analytics - This tool will tell you a great deal about your customers if you set it up correctly. According to HubSpot, "when you setup your Google Analytics account to track and measure your social media initiatives, you'll then be able to adequately prove the ROI of social media for your business." It can also be a powerful tool for gathering conversion insights and data from multiple platforms-social media sites, YouTube, mobile versus desk, etc.

HubSpot Marketing Grader - This free tool reviews your on-page SEO. This review may help you identify where you are attracting the wrong customer, as well as helping you see where you need to tweak things to improve your SEO.

Similar Web - This freemium tool helps you benchmark your competitor's sites. Whether your market is local or international, this tool lists your competitor's inbound and outbound referrals, and their organic and PPC keywords. The results also list display insights and breaks traffic down by country. This is important for developing an informed marketing strategy.

Where It Continues: Develop a Customer-centric Strategy

Once you are armed with information, it's time to use those tools that help you become as useful as possible to your customer base. The following tools help you create an experience for your customers that fosters loyalty and a long-term relationship.

HubSpot - As a marketing platform, HubSpot is one of the best tools you can use. It enables content management, search engine optimization, lead management and lead form creation, landing page customization, business blogging and website analytics capture-all through one interface. It also supports marketing automation, so many of the interactions you have with your customers feel personal without requiring time-consuming individual responses.

HubSpot CRM - This free software complements the core HubSpot offering, as well as standing alone. It's designed to help you organize, track and grow your sales pipeline by taking the pain out of the recordkeeping necessary to move a contact into the sales funnel, close the sale and keep the positive relationship going.

HubSpot Sales - This is also a free offering that complements HubSpot's core marketing platform. It's design to automate multiple aspects of the sales process. It includes automated outreach, consistent email templates and notifications when customers take action (open an email, click a link or open an attachment, for example).

Where It Culminates: Keep the Engagement Going

Customer needs change, yet this doesn't mean you have to lose contact. If you continue to listen, you can remain a tool previous customers come back to and recommend to their peeps. One of the best ways to do this is through social media. It's the perfect platform for sharing the latest developments in the industry.

HubSpot - The blogging component HubSpot supports is one of your most powerful tools for continuing engagement and creating new engagement opportunities. Blogs are an excellent tool for establishing expertise. They can even influence trends. HubSpot makes it easy to use all your blogging options-video, photo gallery and text.

Hootsuite - The free version gives you one place from which to post all your social media content. It also gives you a place where you can review social media updates. The paid version adds campaign tracking and reports that help you evaluate what's been successful and what needs adjustment.

Summary

When you are useful on the web in your industry, you position yourself for successful engagement with the following that's most important to your business success. That engagement leads to repeat visitors, brand recognition and higher conversions. Thus, learning to use the tools that support your goal to develop a useful web presence is one of the best investments you can make as a marketing director.

PS - Become your customer's most valuable asset by becoming the go-to industry thought leader! Start by downloading this free eBook: Getting Started With Content Marketing. This eBook will help guide you through the best practices for content creation. Click here to download or use the button below!

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Sources: blog.usabilla.com | blog.hootsuite.com