Different types of websites and choosing one that delivers for your business
Getting this right will reduce the chance of owning a website that is nothing more than an unproductive distraction and existing only because everyone else has a website you must therefore mindlessly follow the herd.
Below is an introduction to the fundamentals and types of website that will most likely become a productive member of your marketing function team.
Types of website
Understand the nature of the beast
A website is an above-the-line communication channel.
This means two things.
- Anyone and everyone can see it. This means you have no control over who walks through your open door.
- Your most avid visitor to your website is your competition.
Now you know this, you can devise quite interesting marketing strategies. But before we get down to that, let’s start with the basics.
There are essentially two types of website
- Content websites. Example: This site.
- Online store or e-commerce websites (online purchase catalogue websites). Example: Amazon.
Both of these types must be adaptable to appear on three forms of device.
- Desktop PC
A website that adapts its presentation to fit the relevant device is called a Responsive website.
This is an information only website. This means customers will have to contact you to make a purchase. From the perspective of business, content sites are usually used to inform or persuade and push prospects down the sales funnel or grapple with the activities of competition.
Online store or e-commerce website
The online or e-commerce website provides the ability to purchase online. Payment is made through a secure Payment Gateway. The order and payment application is then sent to you for approval and processing.
The different roles for websites
Many people have a website created because everyone else has got one. It is true that without a website, you business will seem invisible but it is still important that you take the time to think about the role of the website within your business and marketing plan; in other words, how is your website going to earn its keep.
Below is a summary of typical roles from the perspective of a business.
- First contact
- Order facility
- Post sale facility
A website can be a useful tool in providing added benefit or required information to customers.
This is usually because:
- You need to provide information so that the prospect can then buy from you.
- You want to provide invested added benefit (providing benefit to prospects with the hope that they appreciate it enough to then buy from you or take an action that will make you money).
This can be done either using customer usernames and passwords or hiding pages from search engines so that you have some control over who sees the page.
Note that the latter approach can be time limited in that competition always eventually discover everything.
Using hidden pages means that you must have another communication channel in which to reach your prospect or customer. Examples: email shots or letters.
The objective of this site is to either/and:
- Push the prospect down the sales funnel towards the close.
- Reassure the prospect that the choice to buy from you is a good one
- Bind the customer by increasing loyalty either consciously (they like what you offer) or substantively (actual offer).
First contact website
This site attempts to be in the right place and at the right time so that the prospect sees and is convinced by your website at or near the point the prospect is buying.
This obviously requires constant marketing effort because your competition is often trying to do the same. You must also determine and then achieve to be where the action is.
It’s also about pages not just websites
You can with some thinking achieve more than one role for the website; by allocating different objectives for different pages or website sections.
Remember, it is individual pages that are initially visited and appear in search engines.
Also be aware of the tactical flexibility of a website. It can react immediately or change constantly.
Making the website a productive member of your team
The website interview.
You should consider your website as a potential employee. That employee is going to cost time and money to induct into your business. And there are additional costs in continuing to employ that resource.
The question is: how much are you willing to pay for the potential talents of that employee and how important are those talents?
This means that once you have defined the required role for the website to fill, you should then collate and define the costs of setting up the website; and then the on-going costs of running the website.
You will then have the following:
Total cost of website = the benefit to your business of the website successfully fulfilling its role
If you discover that the benefit is not really worth the cost then you need to find ways of reducing your website costs so that the above formula makes sense from a hard-nosed business perspective.
What you are doing here is making the website answerable and not just undertaking a zombie project.
You’re not finished yet.
A website is a passive medium in that it does not exist until someone chooses to switch on a device and visit it – either on purpose or via a reference such as a search engine (Google), business card or some other communication channel (e.g. advertisement). Compare this to TV ads which are predatory. They appear in front of you, in your living room and without invitation or any action from you other than switching your TV on.
This means, having the website produced is one thing, the next is determining what help it will need to achieve its objectives. For example; if you want to generate sales leads then that needs visits to the site and conversions. Getting visits requires additional budget: pay per click (PPC) – either from Google and/or from well-visited relevant sites or platforms such as Facebook or YouTube, SEO and offline marketing campaigns etc. All this costs money.
So from the perspective of generating sales leads, you formula now looks like this:
Total cost of website + cost of generating traffic = the benefit to your business of the website successfully fulfilling its role
Your own formula will vary according to the chosen role of the website and your wider strategy. Nevertheless, the point here is to ensure that you analyse and justify why your website exists. This will aid perspective and reduce time and money wastage.