Author: Matthew L. Kaminsky
Why do you want a website? ‘Just because’ can’t be an answer here. One of the most important steps of setting up a website is to think about the end goal. If creating a website is a journey, you’re likely to end up going nowhere at all if you don't also focus on the destination.
Considering your business goals and objectives will help you make better decisions when it comes to building and running your website. This process may seem challenging at first, but if you start with your company goal, the path becomes clear. From there, you can figure out your digital marketing goals and, more specifically, your website goals.
What are your business goals?
Having a website is a business move. For it to make sense, it needs to be tied into your business objectives. In other words, your website strategy needs to be linked to your overarching business goals.
Defining your unique company goals
Before jumping right into your website goals, it’s important to consider what your company is trying to achieve. Your company goals are the broader, desired outcomes that you want to accomplish at some point in the future. By definition, company goals are company-specific and mean different things for different businesses.
Some examples of company goals are:
to increase revenue.
improve customer interaction.
become an industry leader.
Whatever your goals are, write them down. Moving forward, every marketing decision, strategy and objective should connect back to these goals, including your website goals.
Once you’ve set your overall goal, you can think about your marketing efforts and how they contribute to that goal. Each organization has different needs. You need to brainstorm how you can use marketing to achieve your company’s headline goal. Then, you can set your marketing goals.
Your marketing goals differ depending on the nature of the work you do, your resources and the maturity of your company. If your business is relatively new, you might want to start by improving brand awareness. If your business is already up and running, you’ll probably want to increase sales or generate more leads. More established businesses might have more specific goals, such as expanding to new markets, reaching new audience segments or launching new products.
Setting your website goals
Think of your website goals as a way to reach your business goals. Website goals are the actions you want users to take on your website before they leave. To set these goals, figure out what you would want your site visitors to do to help you achieve your business goals.
For example, if you want to improve your brand awareness, your website goal could be to improve engagement with brand content. If you want to generate more leads, your website goal could be to increase contact form submissions.
While only you can determine the appropriate goals for your website, keep in mind that your goals need to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely).
Who is your target audience?
After developing your website goals, consider your ideal visitor. Why? Your business caters to a specific set of people and, in the same sense, your website isn’t meant for every demographic. In fact, you could have the best site with the greatest product or service, but if your target audience isn’t discovering your site, it won’t meet the goals you have set. This means that your website and its content need to appeal to your target audience—to attract the right audience, you need to start by understanding and defining who they are in the first place.
Building a profile of your target audience is important, but how do you actually do it? It’s all about asking the right questions:
What are your users interested in?
What motivates them?
How do they search the web?
What are their challenges?
Once you put these key pieces of information together, you can build on that to provide content and services that are relevant to them, address their needs and ultimately provide value. Start by researching and compiling data about your potential (or existing) customers. Your research should focus on these five elements:
Goals and values
Sources of information
Challenges and pain points
Goals and values
Your users’ needs and motivations should be the main focus. If you are offering a product or service, it’s because it brings something of value to your customers and fulfills their wants and needs.
To identify their goals and values, ask yourself, “What is my customer trying to accomplish (goals)?” and “What is most crucial to them (values)?”
Make a list of the answers you come up with and identify the ones that are relevant for your business. This information helps you understand what to communicate to your audience.
Let’s say you own a protein shake business and one of your target customers is Jane, the gym enthusiast. You want to know Jane’s motivations and interests in order to understand how your company can help them. Based on your research, Jane's goals and values are as follows:
By tying these pieces of information together, it’s safe to assume that Jane will probably be interested in hearing about the special offer on your new line of vegan protein shakes, for example.
Sources of information
Creating an audience profile isn’t just about asking the right questions, it’s also about looking in the places (both online and in-person) where your customers get their information.
To determine the “where” of your customers, think about:
Where to find them
Where do they like to gather? Is it at a forum, a fair, a club, a conference? Are they members of a Facebook group, a professional association? Can you think of any special events that they attend?
What online content they read
Are there any particular blogs that they enjoy reading? What is their go-to media outlet? Are they subscribed to any online publications or magazines?
Which influencers they follow
Who do they look up to in the industry? Who do they consider thought leaders? On which social media platforms are these influencers most active?
Identifying where you are most likely to find your ideal customer will help you know exactly where and how to communicate.
For example, Jane, our gym enthusiast, might be an avid follower of yoga communities on Instagram, have a subscription to Shape and attend a local gym twice a week. This could give you ideas on where to place your ads.
Figuring out your ideal customers’ demographic information can give them an identity and shape them into actual, relatable people. How much information you want to take into consideration is up to you.
Some of the usual facts to consider include:
Putting some flesh on the bones of your persona not only helps you craft content that truly resonates with your audience, it also steers your marketing efforts in the right direction. Take the location of your ideal customers, for example: Are you talking to a local crowd or an international one? The answer to that question will determine how you build your website to cater to the needs of your different audiences.
Nothing stops you from diving deeper into your persona’s DNA. If you want to be creative, think about notable quotes, psychological traits, everyday activities or any detail about their background (personal and professional) that defines them.
Take Jane, the gym enthusiast—after some research you might describe them like this:
Jane is 30 years old, unmarried and has no children. They live in Oakland, CA with their dog. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, they are now a PR manager for a tech company. With 5 years of work experience under their belt, they make close to $80,000 per year. They are health-conscious but too lazy to cook. They live a busy life, are often on-the-go and manage their stress with trips to the gym. They get inspiration for their fitness routines from Instagram and post their achievements there, too.
Challenges and pain points
What keeps your persona up at night? What are they struggling with? Just like everybody else, your persona encounters challenges in life that they want to overcome. Identifying their frustrations and problems allows you to understand how you can help them with your products or services.
Our example persona's main challenges and pain points might look a bit like this:
Once you have listed all of your personas’ issues, you can directly address them with your messaging and explain how you can help solve them.
What devices do your customers have access to? In which context do they browse the web: from their office, at home or on their commute? How often do they go on the Internet? These questions help to understand device and internet usage, which, in turn, helps to determine where your customers see your content.
In our scenario, Jane’s environment could be their office, mostly on their desktop but also on their smartphone when commuting to work. For you, this means that you need to make sure the mobile version of your site provides a seamless experience.
Once you have created detailed profiles of your ideal visitors and brought them to life with a name and a personality of their own, it’s time to align your site with their needs and present them with relevant content.
By establishing a realistic list of goals and measurable objectives, as well as always keeping your ideal visitor in mind, you’ll greatly increase your chances of online success.