I recently had a conversation with a gentleman who argued that one should publish a website immediately – and could so in 20 minutes – to begin the awareness process and pushing one’s content. Then they could improve it over time, giving them an immediate presence, while bringing the quality and value later. So, the question is, is it better to have any website quickly or the right website later?
If you are a hobbyist, a church or PTA, this approach is fine. However, if you’re a serious business, this is a bad place to start. There are several reasons why:
When a new website is created, Google puts it in “The Sandbox.” Just like the name implies, where a child plays because he or she doesn’t know how to do life yet, Google assumes your new to the online game. How long you stay there depends on what you do and how you do it. Once Google decides your website meets the criteria they set for your category (not all websites are judged equally), you’re allowed to play with the big boys (or girls).
This all affects your SEO (search engine optimization) and ranking. If you’re a hobbyist, your site will come out sooner. However, if you’re a business that sells services or products that affect the lives and money of your customers (consultant, doctor, lawyer, marketing services, health products, etc.), you fall under a very stringent category called YMYL. This stands for “Your Money Your Life.” These websites are scrutinized before a ranking is given by human eyeballs. What Google uses to rank you include the following, which also affects how successful you will be with your prospects. So, you kill two birds with one stone if you do it correctly from the very beginning. (Read Google Sets New Standards: Violate them at your own risk. Download Google’s manual, so you can apply it to your website.)
Smartphones have created wonderful opportunities for consumers and businesses. A consumer is no longer tethered to a PC or laptop to consume news, content and receive email. A marketer has a mobile delivery system. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t jump at their phone as soon as it jingles, to see who’s contacted them.
This has led to overload. After all, people only have so much time and attention span to contribute; therefore, they tend to filter. With so many options to choose from, if one’s website does not offer a pleasing user experience, they may look once, but they won’t return.
Your website must be great, not just in your genre, but in general. You are competing against all websites offering a blog or vying for attention, and your goal is to get a small slice of the TIME pie. There are tactics to help you accomplish this. Read Covering Your Website Bases: Part 1 and 2.
Branding is more than just your logo and name. Branding is everything you do! Think about it; what attracts you to Apple, Nike, Microsoft and Coca Cola? Is it a catchy logo and name? NO! It’s how they make you FEEL! From the look of all their marketing material, their slogans, the impact of their web presence, their commercials and their customer service.
When someone looks at your website, which is the cornerstone of all your marketing efforts, since everyone eventually lands on it who wishes to engage you, it will paint a picture of what your brand is. Is it fun, exciting, informative, authoritative and/or entertaining, or does it look cheap, thrown together and like you either lack marketing competence or money (both of which are business killers)?
A well-done website can make you look like a million dollars, and set the tone and bar for engagement and sales. Moreover, since the number 1 goal of a website is not to make sales (that’s goal number 2), but rather to capture the identity of the visitor so you can maintain the conversation until they are ready to buy – an impactful website will attract them to WANT to receive your blog. Your blog will be the main tool for persuading, SEO growth, referrals, and building credibility and trust – all crucial for a full pipeline of prospects.
This is where the rubber meets the road. After all, you’re not building a business to feel good; you’re doing so to earn money. And if you’ve been to business school, you know that the profit margin is crucial. The profit margin is the difference between what your service or product costs you and what you sell it for. The higher the margin, more profit and flexibility, should you need to come down on price to earn the sale.
A poorly designed website reeks of low-priced products and services. Think about it. Let’s take this to a simpler level. If you designed a brochure in MS Word, printed it on Office Depot DIY brochure stationary, what image do you think this projects? It projects “no money” or “incompetent marketing” or both. Either of which makes the prospect think he or she can’t risk buying from you, for fear the quality may be low and you may not be around long-term for after-sale service.
However, a well-done website, which takes user experience and branding into consideration, projects quality, success, competence and customer service. All these have value and people know it costs more to get quality; hence your pricing is expected to be higher. Your goal is to do this so well, your public thinks what you offer is worth far more than what you charge, so when you ask for the sales, they think, “That’s all? Boy, I thought it would be twice that!” (Read Choosing the Right Customer: Not all customers are profitable.)
If you are doing things right, it will be revealed by your bounce rate. A bounce is a measure of how fast one left your website upon arrival. Some reasons they may leave include:
It’s hard to know which of these apply; however, if you have a high bounce rate, people are not sticking. If your user experience is subpar, one can surmise it’s a big portion of that ratio. (Read What Does Your Bounce Rate Say About Your Website?) It’s a good indicator of how much business you may be losing.
Some people expect three-years of results in 30 days – and it’s very unrealistic. The temptation is put something up and running, before they are ready to walk. Many argue that’s what’s needed and throw logical strategy, tactics and prudence to the wind, with procrastination winning the quality argument. After all, who wants to work that hard? “I’ll do it later,” is the mantra of many failing businesses.
You see, if you do it improperly and start pushing your message through social media, and you have a good service or product to deliver, the packaging will tell a different story that may be harder to overcome once the damage has been done.
And while a well-done website may take 30 to 45 days (sometimes longer, depending on complexity), the result will be an effective presence that will brand you well, attract your audience and paint you as a credible, trustworthy business. The image you wish to be branded with will be determined by the choice you make. Choose wisely.
Also published on Medium.