So, you’re thinking about building your own website? Good for you! There are plenty
of tools that you can use to DIY as much of your website and marketing as you want.
Your biggest investment with this approach is time, and if you’re going to invest your time and energy
into building your website, I want to help you start off on the right foot.
What’s a website strategy?
Well, I’m glad you asked! It’s a few key things. Mainly, it’s working out:
- WHO you are targeting
- WHAT you are selling
- HOW you’re going to make those sales
Those are the key areas are where you need to focus right now. And I’m going to help you work out how to do it! I’ve broken it down into 5 parts to make it easy to digest. A word of warning though – this isn’t a short blog post. But it is PACKED with useful information to help you get going. Right, let’s dig in.
Step 1: Your Ideal Customer
Before doing any sort of marketing, you need to know who you’re marketing to. You need to find your target audience. Sounds obvious, right? But have you actually spent the time to work out your ideal customer properly? This is the step that most of us skip in the beginning (I totally skipped this step when I was first starting out). And I’m not just talking about a vague idea of who you think they might be.
You need to create a fictional character – your one ideal customer
You should give this person a name, and possibly find a photograph to represent them. Sounds silly? It might make you feel a bit daft doing this exercise, but the results and impact on your business growth will be anything but silly. You see, when you know who it is you’re marketing towards, all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place much more easily.
How does it apply to your business?
- When you start to create your brand, you think about what this ideal customer likes and what would resonate with them.
- When you’re deciding which products or services you can sell, you think about what this ideal customer would buy from you.
- When you’re ready to start marketing your products and services…that’s right…you think about where your ideal customer is hanging out online, and how you can connect and nurture the relationship.
OK, so here are the things you need to do:
- Step 1: List all the demographic characteristics of people who you would love to work with
- Step 2: Flesh out your ideal customer by digging into their personality – what they believe in, their values, their gcallenges and pain points
- Step 3: Work out where they hang out – what content they consume, Facebook groups, who they follow on social media and all
- Step 4: Document a typical and Ideal day in the life of your ideal customer.
The end result? Clarity on the one person that you can direct all your marketing efforts towards.
Step 2: Research Your Competition
I bet you are feeling pretty excited and you just want to get right into it and start implementing your ideas, but you need to step back for a moment. YOu need to find out what others in your industry are doing and learn from what others are doing already.
I’m not talking about stealing other people’s ideas, just about getting inspiration and researching what works in your industry . You’ll end up with a big inspiration file that you can dip into as you’re building your own website.
How to find websites in your industry
There are a few techniques you can use, One of my favourites is the Google Keyword Planner tool. It’s free, it’s easy to use and you can access tonnes of really useful information. Here’s what you do:
- Create a Google Adwords account
- Find out what are some top search terms in your industry
- Google those terms
- Make a list of websites that are on page 1 for those terms (they’re on Page 1 of Google because they’re doing something right)
Group your research into categories
When you’re searching for websites in your industry, Come up with categories that you’re looking for while discovering those websites that inspire you. Some ideas for categories and what to look for are:
- Design elements – colours, font and photography
- User experience – how the website is laid out, and how easy is it to navigate
- Calls to Action – where are they placed, what do they look like, what is the path through the site
- Specific page designs – create a category for Home Pages, another for About pages, etc
- What online marketing are they using (for example, are they gathering email subscribers)
- Save your research in a spreadsheet
Step 3: Create your brand identity
. Your brand identity covers the following :
- Design elements: logo, colour palette, photography style, font choice
- The content on your website: what information you share
- Your ‘tone of voice’: how you share your content, and what that sounds like
- Core Values
- What products and services you offer
Pulling it all together
Write a mission statement
A mission statement is a couple of sentences that describe the values and aims of your business. Some questions you can ask yourself to help with the process are:
- What do you do?
- How do you do it?
- Who do you do it for?
- What value are you bringing?
Narrow down your products/services
Write out your brand adjectives
You then get more clarity around what your business looks like, and how you want it to be perceived. Do some brainstorming and come up with 5 adjectives that really describe the heart and soul of your business.
Step 4: Create a website style guide
A website style guide is a 1 page document where you summarise the design elements of your website. So when you’re ready to start designing, you’ve got solid ideas to guide you. A style guide includes:
- A colour palette
- Photography examples
- Button design and colours
- Icon ideas
- Font decisions
- A place for your brand adjectives to sit as a reminder
Firstly, create a mood board on Pinterest
A mood board is just a collection of visual elements that inspire and represent your brand. You can pin images from websites as you’re organically moving around the web. You can also go back to your industry research, and pin the design elements that match in with your brand direction.
Secondly, create the style guide
Using Canva (a free graphic design tool), it’s easy to pull this together. And that’s it. It’s really quite simple, deceptively so. But once you start building out your website, you’ll be glad that you created this reference sheet to help guide that process. Phew! We’re almost there. It’s a bit of a process, isn’t it? But just imagine trying to build your site from scratch without any of this preliminary work. You would get stumped over and over again, wasting hours and days switching fonts out, changing your mind about colours, and not even really knowing what you’re trying to achieve with the final product.
Step 5: Create your site architecture
This is documenting the layout of your website – It’s how you layout your pages, how they link to each other, and what content you include.
Step 1: List out your goals
Your website goals are the marketing reasons that you’re creating this website in the first place. I can’t emphasis enough how important this it is that you get really clear on this. A business website should be built to help bring in leads, and support your business growth. Some ideas for your website goals are:
- Sell a service directly online
- Sell products directly online
- Generate leads – eg. Get prospects to call you or send through an online enquiry
- Get subscribers on an email list – an amazing way to generate trust and loyalty
- Build a community – a great tactic if you want to build a membership site, for example
You can (and probably will) have more than 1 goal for your site. But methodically think through each goal, and design and layout the pages so that your goal is supported.
Step 2: Create an Excel spreadsheet
Set up 3 columns – one for goals, one for pages, and one for content For example, if you want to get subscribers for your email list you will need:
- A Landing Page (the page where you collect the email addresses)
- A Thank You page to send subscribers to after they’ve given you their email address
Your content would then be:
- Opt-in lead magnet
- Page copy
- A Call to Action for the Thank You page
In addition, all websites will also need
- A Home Page
- About Page – describe how your business can help your clients, and a little bit of personal information about who you are
- Contact Page – if you’re a local business, it’s really important to have your physical address on the website
- Products/Services page – depending on your business this will vary, but at least 1 page, and probably more than one, describing and outlining what you do and what you’re selling
Right, that’s it. We made it! Well done for getting all the way to the end. I know there’s a whole lot of stuff to digest here, but take your time and work your way through it.
When you’re ready to build your website, you’ll have done a big part of the hard work already and it will make the whole process so much easier for you! Now go ahead and build an awesome website that’s going to help you create a profitable business!