Before you upload anything to your website, make sure you have an online strategy.
You have three to 10 seconds to impress online visitors before they click to the next site, says Loic Jeanjean, online marketing director with Vancouver-based Advisor Websites.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before starting up a website:
1. What are the compliance issues?
Before you do anything online, talk to your compliance department.
Ask if there are any rules you should be aware of, Jeanjean says, or if there are concerns about any of the features you want your website to include.
For example, can you use social media? If you want to maintain a blog or post articles, can you produce original content, or do you have to use material provided by your firm or carrier?
2. Who is my audience?
Consider your ideal clients, and structure the website to appeal to them.
“The better you know your audience the better you will be able create content for them,” says Russell Vance, digital director with Wickware Communications Inc. in Toronto. Create a key message for your ideal clients outlining your services or a problem you can solve for them.
Place the message where it will be easily seen by visitors on your homepage.
3. Am I using the right tone?
If you know who your ideal clients are, anything you write for your website — or for ublication in any medium —should be written with them in mind, says Marie Swift, president and CEO of Impact Communications Inc. in Leawood, Ks.
For example, if your target clients are doctors between the ages of 30 and 50, your writing would be slightly different from that aimed at retired mechanics.
4. Am I making my website a “hub?”
Your website should be the centre of your online strategy.
It should look professional and include links to articles you’ve written, Swift says, or news sites in which you have been quoted. The site should have video and the graphics should be professionally designed.
With a strong website you can extend your online presence to other areas, such as social media, like LinkedIn or Twitter, and can link to and from your social media sites to your website. Again, check with your compliance department about social media.
5. Do I need to create an archive?
Find out if your firm requires you to keep records of your website content.
You may be required to keep archives of everything you post online (including all postings, additions and revisions) for several years, Jeanjean says, in case you are audited. Publishing platforms such as WordPress (wordpress.org) will automatically archive websites.
6. Can I see how many visitors are coming to my site?
Monitoring traffic to your website can give you insight into its effectiveness.
You should know how many people visit your site, how long they stay, what content they read and if you get return visitors, says Jeanjean. This information will tell you what works and what doesn’t on your site, and that can help you make improvements.
Jeanjean recommends using the online tool Google Analytics to keep track your website.