Before launching a website, you must determine the qualifications a website needs in order to be successful. There are several elements that must be taken into consideration, such as; website design, content, technical logistics, marketing, and much more. The list goes on and on... Having a well-thought out strategy is what will make all the difference with a website's success. Without it, you're unable to design a site that will accomplish everything a business wants to because those goals haven't been outlined. At Blue Fountain Media, our strategy department likes to take phased approaches when we build a strategy for any type of business before the launch of a website. We begin by asking questions throughout all phases of the project-before it begins, during, and after. The following is a basic "game plan" for the major components of your strategy, and the right questions to ask that will help you create the most effective strategic plan, and reach your finish line to achieve the goals of your site.

Pre Game

The discovery phase is one of the most important parts of any successful website strategy because it helps shape the fundamental aspects of your entire project. Proper research will provide you with a clear understanding of your client needs, your competitive landscape, and the unique assets your business has to offer. Without fully grasping those components, you won't be able to identify the right business objectives or goals, and furthermore, the tactics you need to implement in order to achieve them. Three crucial strategy elements that should be considered during your initial research phase include the following:
1. Target Audience
  • Who are they, what will resonate with them the most?
  • How do they behave? Will it be best to market to them offline, online, or socially?
2. Industry landscape
  • Who are my top competitors in my vertical, direct, looking and goliaths alike?
  • What are the industry trends, what is driving them?
3. Differentiators
  • What is my competition not doing well that I can highlight or capitalize upon?
  • What can I offer to offset or detract from any weaknesses?

Game Time

Determining actionable tasks and goals related to your website should be based on what you ultimately want your users to do. What your audience is looking for and how you can fulfil their need should be the basis for how your website is designed. The user-experience is crucial to the success of your online business and should be tailored to meet the needs of your users. These four elements of a strategy should be examined as you're creating your website:
4. Social Integration
  • Do I want posts to link to landing pages or just get the word out?
  • How much interaction or commenting do I want between the company and customers? Does it need to be monitored?
5. Content Offerings
  • Am I a catalogue, resource center, thought leadership portal, mix?
  • How do I avoid dead ends and supplement with related upsells?
6. Conversion & CTAs
  • What do I want users to do, buy, share, download, comment, or post?
  • How do I prompt them to do so? With links, buttons, pop ups, and at what stage of interest?
7. Online Environment
  • What are my users looking to do? Browse, buy, learn, or reach out?
  • What atmosphere are they expecting any offline sites or other materials?

Post Game

After the launch of a website, you're not done yet. In order to stay relevant and continue enhancing your online business, certain elements need to be evaluated and several tactics should be implemented. It's important to look at what's working and what's not working so that you can adapt your strategy to most effectively meet the needs of your audience, and ultimately foster the growth you're looking for with your business. After your website has launched, consider the following three strategy elements essential to your business plan:
Photo Credit: Kickify
8. Maintenance
  • What CMS (Content Management System) is in place or should be in place?
  • What resources are in house, or do I outsource?
9. Follow up Marketing
  • What customer service is required or should be offered?
  • What can keep them coming back? Remarketing? Newsletters?
10. What Next?
  • Now what are the competitors and target audience up to, how do I keep up?
  • What else can I add to my website and overall marketing to stay relevant?

An Effective Strategy

The right strategy helps any business take their goals and objectives, outlines them, and creates actionable methods to accomplish goals. By looking at a strategy in several phases, and ensuring that the most important elements, as identified above, are included, you will find the online success you're seeking to be attainable. Reaching your customers in the most effective way will help foster sales, and build out business growth. A strategic approach will be crucial to reaching your objectives.
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