“Internet strategy” is a term that marketing agencies are learning they must adopt. As an inbound marketing consultant who has worked in both a website development environment and a traditional marketing environment, I can see how someone who is unfamiliar with the concept of Internet strategies may believe that these two skills are the same. A recent website development project has clearly punctuated the differences for my client. The customer was blown away by the website design… however the website design was created by an old school designer who is not as familiar with the dynamic way web marketing and internet strategy can lead to inbound lead generation.
So what is the difference between “Internet strategy” and “web design”? Or more importantly, how can your web design be supportive of your Internet Strategy?
Does your web design agency understand your goals and objectives, and have they considered your target audience when developing your online marketing campaign?
Many web designers haven’t evolved to become true marketers who understand how to use the Internet to develop leads and prospects. Let me share the highlights of how these skill sets vary:
- Web design versus SEO. The website developer understands great web design. They are an expert in code and probably have a strong Photoshop skill set. What they may not understand is how SEO impacts web design. On this recent project, the designer created a static home page that would work well in Cold Fusion or HTML based implementation. Now that our clients understand the importance of keywords and search engine optimized content, this structured design becomes a dinosaur. Plus the graphic heavy design does not lend itself to being indexed easily.
- Web design versus page load times. We also know that Google penalizes long load times. A graphic intensive site takes longer to load, and a flash intensive site takes even longer. Human behavior dictates that people will click away from a website that takes a long time to load. We are an instant generation and we want things to move quickly. A screen that bogs down our computer’s RAM is probably going add to the bounce rate.
- Web design versus inbound marketing. Internet strategies include the ability to dynamically change content to react to search engine results. We can see who is viewing our content, how long they are staying, where they are going next, what words they are using… by incorporating this web analytic intelligence, we can continue to optimize content, add keywords, experiment with headings and content, and improve our site to garner more focused searches.
- Web design versus web marketing. The web designer creates templates for beautiful graphic web pages. Their focus is on the visual presentation. When it comes to ranking, the ongoing addition of content is secondary, at least to the designer I’m working with. One of the most important aspects and fundamental inbound marketing components of this new website is the blog. The designed opts to sacrifice the blog as a trade off for a stylized menu. A compromise of re positioning the blog under another heading is an acceptable compromise, but I remain somewhat shocked back into reality that the designer would opt to bury the blog.
- Web design versus social media. I’m putting the finishing touches on the implementation of the design and realized that we do not have the social media icons on the Home Page. That’s a “no no”! Please do not compromise your ability to connect with your customers for a pretty website design. If its’ beautiful, but it doesn’t produce leads, is it worth the investment?
I think the most shocking aspect of the reality check of a traditional old school web developer is that they don’t seem to understand the importance of content and copy. Appropriate keywords in the heading versus having a heading that is a picture is an example. Assuming that alt text can be read be the search engines as well as content is another. Suggesting hidden content to compensate for lack of visible content area is equally as appalling.
So, why this surprise and shock? Because when a marketing director or company executive is searching for an Internet strategy, they may not recognize that there is a difference between a web developer or a web designer and an Internet marketing company. And even a company that has hundreds of the most beautiful website designs in the world may not be competent when it comes to positioning the website for inbound leads or generating new sales leads.
True marketing return on investment is understanding the investment made in a website and then evaluating the business increase due to that investment. Typically with the sites we work with, our clients start getting tangible leads in the first 3 months, with geometric increase in leads as time moves forward.
Yes, it’s possible to have a great design and it’s also possible to have a website that is a powerful marketing tool for developing a sales funnel. If you want to know more, just ask us!