179_7976 - crop Maybe you have a website, or maybe you need one. When you are considering growing your business online, you need a solid plan to guide you. The first step in developing your plan is to look at your current situation. Clearly knowing where you are will help you (and any web professionals you work with) determine what the priorities should be for moving forward. For example, you might have a website that is a few years old, but not delivering the business you want. An analysis of what you like about your site, and what you don’t, what is working for your business, and what isn’t will help you decide whether your site just needs tweaked, or if it needs a total overhaul.

If you don’t yet have a site, you should focus on your current business and marketing and how a website will fit into that. You should have a good idea of what assets you have (branding and written copy) and what resources (financial and human) you can devote to your new website, both to get the site launched, and then to maintain it regularly.

In either case, you should evaluate how you are currently obtaining customers and decide what your goals are for your online marketing. Consideration should also be given to what sorts of administrative things can be moved online, such as information distribution (FAQs, product/service info, announcements, etc.), payment processing, event registration, or product delivery.

You should also set some quantitative goals in relation to your website. How many backlinks and visitors do you want to have 12 months from now? How many prospects in your database?  What sort of PageRank and search engine positioning would you like? These goals will determine how much effort you should devote to your online marketing in the coming months.

The most important thing is to plan long-term – at least 6-12 months out – because your future needs might influence your current technology choices. For example, you might want to start an e-zine now, and perhaps start processing payments online in 6 months. Knowing this, it might make sense to get a full shopping cart system now, even if you will only be using its email distribution functionality for the time being. If you were to sign up with an email-only service, you might find in 6 months that you have a big project to move your data from your email service to your new shopping cart service.

Web Action Steps:

Take a look at where you are…

  • If you currently have a website, evaluate it:
    • When did you launch your site? If it was more than 3 years ago, it might be time to freshen it up.
    • Do you still like your site’s graphic design?
    • Has the structure of the pages become overgrown through time? Is it time to reorganize?
    • What are your current statistics in relation to your Google PageRank, search engine positions, backlinks, visitor traffic, etc? Have they been trending up or down over the last months or years?
    • Is your site missing some obvious “modern” features you’d like to add?
  • What assets do you have available for your website (branding, graphics, written content, etc)?
  • How much time can you and your team devote to getting your site launched? How much can you devote to weekly or monthly maintenance?
  • What is your budget for your website – both for the creation (or redesign), and monthly after that?

And where you’d like to be…

  • How are you currently dealing with prospects? How could your website assist that process?
  • What administrative and sales task could be handled by your website?
  • What are your goals for 12 months from now in regards to traffic, prospects, etc? What will you need to do to accomplish those goals?
  • Make a list of all the features you’d like to have on your website within the next year, even if you don’t plan on implementing them all immediately. What can you do now to make future implementation easier?

Knowing where you are with your web marketing now will help you best prepare for where you will be next year, and creating a comprehensive plan will keep you focused on your desired results, as well as get your whole team, and any contractors, on the same page. It can be challenging to create this type of analysis and plan, but well worth your efforts. If you aren’t sure how to evaluate your needs or what goals you should set, please take a look at the services I offer: http://www.wholewebimpact.com/services.aspx.