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Is Your Website Ready for Digital Marketing? -- The Ugly Baby Conversation

29 May 2019
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The objective of digital marketing for any business is to drive traffic to their website, gain exposure for their brand and ultimately convert the website traffic into business transactions that improve their bottom line.

At a glance some digital marketing (DM) campaigns may appear successful because they’ve driven volumes of traffic to a website, when in fact they’ve fallen at the final hurdle because the website they are driving the traffic to is not up to scratch — it doesn’t fairly reflect the quality of products or services the business offers, and it doesn’t convert the leads into completed sales because users are sceptical.

 

So, the five questions you need to ask before investing in (and during) a digital marketing campaign are:

1. Is my website good enough to be sending people to (will they convert)? 

2. Does my website do my brand justice and equal my company’s high standard of professionalism and industry authority? 

3. How do my competitors’ websites look and function (how does mine compare)? 

4. Will I be throwing good money after bad running a DM or offline campaign that drives traffic to it? 

5. Are you open to listening to (and acting on) professional guidance should you answer “no” to any of the above?

 

Still not sure how to answer? Read on for a more detail around each question. We’ll also show you example websites to apply these questions to later in the piece.

 

 

1. Is my website good enough to be sending people to (will they convert)?
Are you holding a party no one wants to be at?

An analogy we use for DM around lacklustre websites is inviting people to a gangbusters party which turns out to be a yawner — you invest time in lining up calendars, sending invites, starting a Facebook Event and building some hype around your shindig. This works well and you have a bunch of friends and family excited to come to your house and dance the night away.

A full register of party guests shows up at your door, but they have a terrible time because you haven’t spent enough time getting your house in order. You haven’t set the stage with food, drinks, games, seating, live entertainment, etc… you haven’t equipped your guests with the right tools to convert them from invitees (leads) to party animals getting what they came for — a great time (successful conversions).

This is the danger of running DM campaigns and driving website traffic to a poor example of a website — once there, everyone’s looking for the exit.

 

2. Does my website do my brand justice and equal my company’s high standard of professionalism and industry authority?
What happens when your house isn’t in order…?

When a user lands on your website, they immediately start judging your brand based on what they are seeing. This is a bottom line that many businesses miss — in the eyes of your would-be customers, your website is an absolute reflection of the customer-experience they’ll receive if they choose to purchase your products or services.

If they think your website is a little shoddy or your user experience (UX) challenges them in any way at all, it sews a seed of doubt. If they suspect your competitors have more user-friendly websites that will get them what they want sooner, then BAM, they’re gone… they’ve taken their hard-earned dollar onto the next website, never to be seen again.

 

3. How do my competitors’ websites look and function (how does mine compare)?
Are you offering customers everything your rivals are?

If you aren’t constantly comparing your website to those of your competitors, you’ve missed a trick, because you better believe your customers are! You need to understand your playing field from the users’ perspective.

Remember that when the user is viewing your website, they have no experience of your goods and services. So, even if you’re convinced your offering is head and shoulders above your competitors’, if their website is better than yours, that is the only influencing factor for the user and will likely make or break the sale.

 

4. Will I be throwing good money after bad running a DM or offline campaign that drives traffic to my website?
Is your website ready to be put in the spotlight?

Digital marketing can have a great impact on the performance of your business, but it’s not a magic bullet. Because we put an emphasis on campaigns that drive conversion rather than simply traffic, we believe the Limelight Online team are extremely transparent in offering genuine, honest guidance in this area.

We’re upfront in educating businesses about their websites’ shortcomings before we partner with them, because at the end of the day, we don’t want to drive traffic to a website that won’t convert. This is throwing good money after bad.

If you’d like to consult with us on the current state of your website before entering into digital marketing efforts, please drop us a line. We’d love to help you gain (potentially money-saving) perspective.

 

 

5. Are you open to listening to (and acting on) professional guidance should you answer “no” to any of the above?
Can you handle the ugly baby conversation?

Over our 20 years of operation we’ve dealt with all manner of businesses from various sectors and with websites of radically varying quality. We’ve learnt that while some people are open to feedback regarding the shortcomings of their website and responsive to suggested improvements, there is also a contingent that consider their website as their baby and struggle when someone tells them it’s perhaps note as ‘cute’ as they think it is.

The bottom line here is literally the bottom line — we don’t consult with clients meaning to insult their current website on a personal level, we have the end user’s experience and the client’s ROI and bottom line at front of mind at all times.

Our ideal DM client is one who already has a brilliant website, or one who takes our comments on board with an open mind to making changes that will help them achieve their business goals.

 

 

 

3 examples of websites that aren’t ready for digital marketing, and 3 that are.

We don’t want to sling mud at the shortcomings of New Zealand businesses, but we feel it’s important to show you a poor website experience through the eyes and decision-making rationale of the end user.

So, here are three examples of comparisons of good and bad websites within similar fields. We wouldn’t waste DM budget on the losing examples until their house was in order.

 

1. Mitre 10 Vs. Bunnings Warehouse

As much as it grates us to admit that New Zealand’s go-to home improvement store is being trumped by their Australian-owned counterpart, we have to say — our experience of the search function on the Mitre 10 website leaves a lot to be desired.

As frequent users of the site we’ve found that the search logic behind the search bar function doesn’t narrow the search enough, meaning the search results often feature irrelevant products that the user has to sift through. This means they have to do more manual searching/filtering themselves. Some users will give up and head to the competitor’s website. Product descriptions often feel inadequate too, not offering enough information to educate us to the point of making an informed and confident purchase.

WINNER: Bunnings Warehouse

Look at the random first results in the Mitre 10 searches below. Bunnings still have a little trouble with our old-fashioned use of inches, but at least they serve us strictly timber product results.

Mitre 10 website search

 Mitre 10 website search screenshot

 

 Bunnings Warehouse website screenshot

 

2. British Spares Vs. British Motorcycle Parts

Our resident Triumph motorcycle owner is always at odds choosing between these two companies. The British Spares website offers better availability and pricing but is held back by the '90s online forum look and feel, and the fact that you have to select the part you want by matching numbers on a schematic diagram to catalogue numbers.

Because you can’t actually view a photo of the exact part you’re ordering, the user’s search experience is poor and there is some doubt that the right part will arrive in the post.

British Spares website screenshot 

 

The British Motorcycle Parts website on the other hand has a more intuitive search function that allows you to search by part description, model, etc. The product pages show clear imagery of the part you will receive so you can compare it to the one you’re replacing, and a coin is even featured in some cases (in addition to dimensions) to give scale.

The British Motorcycle Parts checkout process is also superior to British Spares, with a good e-commerce model allowing the user to order online and take overnight delivery. The latter organisation checks availability after you’ve ordered and rings you for credit card details normally a couple of days later, and then ships the part. Which would you prefer as an end user, and which would you award a digital marketing budget to?

 

WINNER: British Motorcycle Parts

British Motorcycle Parts website search screenshot 

 British Motorcycle Parts website screenshot

 

 

3. Flags R Us Vs. Display Wizard

Our final comparison is between two custom flag and signage companies — Flags R Us (New Zealand based), and Display Wizard (UK based).

Imagining ourselves as a prospective customer in the market for a customised roll-up banner, we navigate to the homepage of Flags R Us. We’re met with a very basic drag-and-drop template website design/layout, an irritating flashing star plugging a 10% price match, sliding imagery and a quirky ‘mobile’ CTA. Scrolling down the page, the price match offer has increased to 15%, contact details aren’t clickable and the copywriting doesn’t reflect that of a reputable company.

Flags R Us Website screenshot 

Then we navigate to the roll-up banner product page and see a typo and an out of place warning coming from the website’s CMS.

Considering these points, we decide to return to our roll-up banner search results page to see what else is out there in flag land…

Flags R Us Website product screenshot 

 

… our curiosity leads us to Display Wizard. We note their .co.uk website domain so know we probably won’t order from them, but their excellent Google Reviews rating shown in the search results piques our interest.

Landing on their site we find a pretty slick e-commerce website with Trustpilot reviews, buyer’s guides, helpful tips on exhibiting at trade shows and a well-organised and informative FAQ section. We’re convinced this is a reputable company who we’d be confident in ordering from.

Display Wizard homepage screenshot 

 

We know they don’t deliver to NZ, but we check out their roll-up banner products for comparison’s sake anyway. The product page is well equipped with a breadcrumb so we know where we are in the site map, the different sections of the page are anchored to buttons in a sub-navigation menu above the product description, we are given handy info about the product like assembly time and what’s included, and we learn they offer a graphic design service would be great because we’ve been toiling away in MS Paint for hours at this point!

Their website is definitely ready to have a digital marketing campaign drive traffic to it, and as the end users, we’d be confident purchasing from them online (were their products/services available in NZ).

WINNER: Display Wizard

Display Wizard product page screenshot 

 

 

 

 

Putting your website under the microscope
If you want to start a party people won’t ever want to leave and are willing to put your website under the microscope to get it ready for digital marketing, then get in touch — we love to help improve websites.

If you’re not sure you’re quite ready to potentially have the ugly baby conversation, try our three-part ‘Hard Truths About Promoting Your Business Online’ series over on our sister company’s website. Read part 1, part 2 and part 3 to learn more.

Written by
Josh Casserly is one of our Digital Marketers and, as a well-travelled wordsmith, Josh combines his aptitude for engaging content with his ever-expanding digital marketing skill set.

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