Online Marketing Tip #1: Know Who Your Website is For
Use Both Sides of the Coin
Businesses, charities, non-profits–all of them have an online and social media presence these days, but what are they doing with it? What should they be doing? The answer lies in the age-old saying, “Two sides of the same coin.”
In this analogy, the coin represents the success of your online marketing efforts. And while so simple, this foundational principle may be the single most important online marketing tip you’ll ever get. Everything else builds on this.
The coin is a good metaphor because at the simplest level, having an effective website is all about money. More sales, more donations, more sign-ups, more conversions. We want our online marketing efforts to pay off for our businesses and non-profits. For this to happen, we need to pay attention to both sides of the coin.
Heads – What You Want
The first side of the coin is your side. What you want your business to accomplish. From that point of view, what’s the website for? Whether you’re a for-profit or a non-profit, we should all agree on this:
- No matter how altruistic, generous, and sacrificial your charity may be, your website exists to make more of that work possible. For that, you need funding.
- No matter how environmentally friendly, progressive, traditional, or just plain useful and fun your products may be, the website is there to sell your stuff. What other reason is there to have a website?
Again, this is your side of the coin. The side that wants customers, donors, volunteers, and investors.
As many frustrated business owners can attest, this side of the coin is hard to monetize. Why? Because far too many websites operate only on that side of the coin. They completely ignore the other side.
They try to “brand” their content and products, tell about how great their organization is, and sell, sell, sell. This is all fine. It’s what you have to do. But it’s not enough.
So what’s the other side of the coin? What’s missing?
It’s your visitors. Your users. What we call “potential” customers.
Tails – What They Want
If someone comes to your site already intending to buy your product or donate to your non-profit, then you only have one task to accomplish: Get them to your sales page, simply and effectively (many sites even fail at doing this task well), and help them do what they came to do.
Buy the product. Make a donation.
But, what percentage of visitors come to your site with this purpose? Far, far less than the ones who come for other reasons.
And that is the other side of the coin. What are your visitors coming to do? If it is anything other than to buy or donate, and you don’t help them do it without hassle and annoyance, then they will leave your site and likely never return.
They will go somewhere else until their goal is reached. This is the nature of the internet.
Surely another site exists out there that is similar to yours. When your visitors leave your site and find another one that answers their question, that’s the site they will remember. That’s the site they will recommend to their friends and colleagues. That’s the site they will bookmark, sign up for newsletters and product updates, and yes, at some point, buy something from or donate to.
The other side of the coin, then, is to help your users accomplish what they came to the site to do. What kinds of things do visitors come to do? Well, just think about yourself. When you go to a website, what brought you there?
-Answer a question of interest
-Learn something about a subject or issue, either broad or specific
-Follow up on a news story
-Look up a product someone recommended to you
-Figure out how to fix something or build something
-Compare different versions of similar products
-Learn about an organization or business
We could come up with many more pages of reasons people go online–none of which involve buying things, but all of which they will search the internet for until they get an answer.
The goal of your site is to provide those answers. This, over the long run, builds your site’s reputation as an informative one. A trusted source of expertise and insight. One that isn’t just trying to sell stuff, but that helps people get their needs met–whatever those might be in the moment.
In other words, if every page on your site is about selling and getting donations, then your site is not maximizing its potential, and you are losing visitors you might have held on to.
So consider the coin. Are you attending both sides of it? Are you helping visitors accomplish what they came to do, while at the same time motivating them to do what you want them to do?
Use the Whole Coin
It’s what you want them to do, and what they want to do.
Their reason for coming, and the action you want them to take.
Accomplish both, with simplicity and clarity, and your online marketing efforts will start to reward you. Then you’ll produce many more donors and customers in the long run.
If your website isn’t meeting your visitors’ needs, and you’re not sure how to use that side of the coin, send me your web address and your situation, and I’ll give you some free website improvement tips.