As much as I hate to say it unless you’re Google, your new site is not the field of dreams and just by building it does not guarantee they, your customers, will come.
Plan before your site goes live
With that said, let us briefly discuss why a marketing plan needs to be taken into consideration when planning a new website so you can meet and hopefully exceed your expectations.
A common thought maybe, ‘Well my existing clients and site visitors will automatically see my new site and the new features, so my goals will easily be achieved.’ Yes, that might be true, if your business is made up of repeat customers who visit your site on a somewhat regular basis. However, if your business has a much longer service cycle, has less frequent customers, or you are looking to attract new customers to a new service, a strategic marketing plan should be made from the very beginning of website project.
Let’s say your goal is to create a new website that has a new online ordering feature that will make your customers’ lives so much easier, as they will no longer need to call to order or visit your location to purchase your product. To take it yet a step further, and let’s say you sell a product that your client needs to purchase at least twice a month. Well then, people are bound to come, right? Not necessarily.
Implement your plan after your site is live to see results
Let’s think back to the fact that your new site will be allowing your customers the ability to buy online, something they have never been able to do before. With that said, your customers have gotten into the habit of calling to place orders or bypassing your website altogether and visiting your location to make a purchase. Therefore, you need to break your customer’s habits and inform them of your newly added service, a.k.a. marketing.
Yes, this example speaks to only one website upgrade and goal, but in terms of marketing, it is one of the easier goals to accomplish; informing your existing customer base. On the other hand, building a new website with the goal of retaining your existing customer base and attracting new customers is a goal that would require even more marketing planning, as you are competing with millions of other sites for the same thing, site traffic.
A website should be viewed and treated as an extension of your sales team. You wouldn’t hire a salesperson and just ask them to sit in their offices without calling customers or providing them with information to be successful. You should treat your website that way either. Have a detailed plan to make it successful.
It is commonly said that marketing is the first thing to get cut. However, using the brief example I just shared, my hope is that the next time you consider ‘holding tight on marketing until a later date’ you reconsider and ask yourself, ‘If I am not actively telling my customers what I want them to know, who will?’ If you just build it, they may not come. But if you build it with a strategic marketing plan, they will.