Learn the 6 key elements that are essential to creating an effective website strategy for your purpose-driven brand.
One of the most detrimental traps to fall into as a business owner is the belief that if it’s pretty, it must work really well.
We are especially prone to this when it comes to websites. We see a website that has a lovely aesthetic and we automatically think that the business has their shit together and must be booked out with clients all the time.
But then maybe you poke around a little more and realize that you can’t find the contact form. Or, the blog posts aren’t categorized in any way and it’s hard to find what you’re looking for. And when you go to the services page, there isn’t anything to communicate about what the person is actually doing.
So yes, at first glance, the site is beautiful. But the more you dig into it, the more you realize that it’s really hard to navigate and find what you’re looking for.
Which leads me to this: just because a website is pretty to look at doesn’t mean it is supportive of the business goals. Or, that it’s actually doing its job.
Me? I’d take an ‘ugly’ website that brings me in leads over a pretty website that does nothing, any day of the week.
The goal of course is to have both. And, I’m absolutely in the camp that it is possible to have a website that looks good and is supportive of your business goals.
But it doesn’t just happen – whether you buy a template, go the DIY route or hire support from a designer, that blend of beauty and intention comes from making decisions and starting with, you guessed it, strategy.
Table of Contents
What is a website strategy?
A website strategy is like the business plan for your digital home base. It’s the roadmap for creating a website that is functional and supportive of your business objectives and goals. Your website strategy also helps identify possible challenges or roadblocks that may come up during the design, development and maintenance phases so that you can allocate resources effectively.
Why does your business website need a strategy?
As a business owner, the primary function of your website is to support your business objectives. If you’re a service-based business, that usually means the website’s purpose is to generate you leads or potential clients.
The problem is we often think, as the outsider, that if a website looks good, it must be working well. We put most, if not all, of our eggs into the ‘aesthetic’ basket. Meaning, if we have the right images, fonts and layout, we’re golden. On one hand, yes, to a certain extent, great design will do wonders for your business and brand perception. However, great design is only part of the story, especially when it comes to website design and function.
The other (arguably more important) part of a website?
Because the strategy is what closes the gap between where your website currently is and where you want it to go.
Your website strategy considers your business objectives and then directs your website’s content and layout, as well as how to best support your customer journey.
It answers questions like:
- Who is the primary or intended audience of our website?
- How will they find us?
- What information are they searching for?
- What does an ideal flow through our website look like?
- What is the next right step that we want a visitor to take?
The upside is that when you are intentional about answering these questions and have clarity around what you want your website to do for your business, it’s a hell of a lot easier to determine things like layout and images, as well as message and calls-to-action.
The downside is that when you jump right into design and don’t consider your website goals, it’s likely that you’ll end up with a website that may look great but doesn’t actually support your business.
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The 6 key elements of an effective website strategy
1. Define the primary and secondary goals of your website
It’s a simple question but not always an easy one to answer. Especially if you’re a multi-passionate entrepreneur with a variety of offerings.
It’s challenging because, more often than not, we want our website to do a lot for us. We say things like, “It absolutely has to book discovery calls for 1:1 work… But also get me speaking gigs. And also sell affiliate products. And position me as a content entrepreneur.”
Great, but also, not helpful in the terms of homing in on one singular primary goal. We can’t be all things to all people and the same is true for our website. It can have a variety of functions but at the end of the day, what is the one thing that it needs to kick ass at? Said another way, if your website didn’t do this one thing, your business would not continue.
From there, you can then determine what the secondary goals are – and yes, you can have more than one. These are all the other ‘things’ that your website needs to do to support your business, in addition to knocking the main goal outta the park.
2. Keep the target audience top of mind.
I think it goes without saying but let’s just say it anyways: In order for your website to truly support your business goals, it needs to be created with your ideal client persona at the forefront.
Remember, people are busy and they don’t want to dig around your site to see whether or not you can help them. Make it easy, my friends. Call out their problem, speak directly to their paint points and for the love of all things, do not say you work with everyone.
Another positive: when you’re clear on who you’re a great fit for, you can then tailor your website’s content – everything from images to copy to graphics – and layout to that type of person, further solidifying your brand as a great fit for them.
3. Understand the role of the website within your customer’s journey.
Meaning, the role that your website plays in your entire customer journey and it can support your business in each of the four phases – awareness, buy-in, purchase and retention.
When you look at the website holistically and from the perspective of the entire customer journey, you’re able to then map out what it needs to do at each stage to keep the person engaged and connected to your brand. Said another way, how can your website be integrated into each of the four stages?
Often, when I’m walking through this with clients, they’ll say something like, “Oh, I didn’t think about using my website for that!” So, I’d encourage you to think outside of the box. What sticking points do you have within your client process and can your website make it easier in any way?
4. Map out the pages and their primary function.
The goal of your site and the goal of each individual page will most likely be the same. However, there are instances when they could be different.
For example, let’s say you’re a copywriter and the primary goal of your site is to have someone book a discovery call for your copywriting services. But, you also have a page for media and getting booked on podcasts is the main goal of that specific page.
This is (yet) another reason who it’s so important to sit down and map out your site’s purpose and the function of each individual page. Ideally, you’ve determined all the different goals of your site in step one so that you can then distribute the appropriate goal(s) to their right page.
5. Get clear on the website flow.
Once you have the individual pages and their respective goals defined, it’s now time to think about how they’ll interact with each other and the overall flow a website visitor will take once they arrive on your site.
Spoiler alert, it’s your job as the business owner to tell the website visitor what you want them to do and how you want them to engage with your site.
This step is all about thinking through what you want them to do when they land on a certain page. If they start with your home page, where do you want them to go next? What about if they read a blog post?
When you map out the desired flow and experience, you can be intentional about how someone moves throughout the entire website and ensure you have the right CTA’s scattered throughout. This process also helps guard against the ‘dead ends’ – the action of getting to the bottom of a page and asking yourself, “Okay, now what?” because there isn’t a clear next-right-step.
This can feel a little (or a lot) overwhelming, especially if you have a high number of pages.
But, don’t fret.
Start with the home page and then work from there based on your page hierarchy and what’s most popular. More than likely, you’ll find that a certain ‘flow’ can you repeated for a variety of pages, making the whole process a lot less daunting.
6. Map out the keywords and content.
Keywords are the words and phrases that your ideal client is searching as it relates to your area of expertise. The goal is to understand the keywords that most align with your business so you can then leverage search engine optimization based on those defined targeted keywords.
Tools like Screaming Frog, Keysearch, AHREFs and SEMRush can support you in the keyword research process.
On the content strategy side, it’s all about understanding what types of content will best support your ideal client and the goals that you have for your site. Do they like to read blogs, listen to podcasts or watch videos? And if you don’t know, use this as an opportunity to experiment and see what your right audience gravitates towards.
This step is also where you can audit the existing content on your site and see what’s working and what’s not. You can use analytics and refer back to the previous web strategy steps – what content supports your primary and secondary goals? Ultimately, this audit will give you a high level overview of a website structure that includes what pages you need to create with what’s already in existence.
Website strategy best practices and key considerations
Leverage the data
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are great tools for helping you create an intentional strategy. Look at the behaviors of your current audience – what pages are they landing on, what’s showing up in search already, what are they doing once they get to your website? You can leverage the information you already have to then make even better decisions about what needs to be changed, updated or doubled-down on to make your website work for you.
Don’t forget to experiment
Your website is not and should not be a stagnant element of your business. As with all things brand-related, use it as a tool to gather information so you can get even more clarity on your next right step in business. Experiment with your header statement, images and layout to see what resonates for your right audience. You don’t know until you try and your website is a relatively easy way to learn about what works and what doesn’t for your brand.
Track your progress
You don’t have to be a data-loving business but you do need to track your website’s performance. Because how else are you supposed to know if your strategy is truly supporting your goals? Things like monthly visitors, bounce rate, referral source and email signups are all relatively easy to find and are essential to understanding how well your website is performing. Determine your own metrics that matter and track them on a monthly basis – so if/when something happens, you can catch it relatively quickly.
When and how often to revisit your web’s strategy
There’s an assumption that once you have a brand element in place – whether that’s an ideal client, message, logo or website – it’s set in stone and absolutely cannot be changed.
Well, it’s kinda BS.
Because as with all things in brand, clarity comes from action. And that includes your website design and its strategy.
The good news is that with every small adjustment comes with it a better supporting website. Whether the shift met your expectations or didn’t, you’ll walk away with a little more confidence in your next right step.
And one last thing that needs to be said: there’s no shame in the experiment game. Adjusting, changing, pivoting, are all parts of being a business owner. You do the best you can with what you have. And when you learn more, you adjust accordingly.
With that, happy branding 🙂
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