Yesterday, I had the pleasure of doing a workshop with the regional National Speakers Association, led by Karl Ahlrichs. For public speakers, it's critical to have a great web presence and the majority of the attendees were surprised to find some huge gaps in their strategy.
Most of this is because the industry has changed considerably… and most agencies haven't kept up. If you simply put up a website, it's like opening a store in the middle of nowhere. It may be beautiful, but it's not going to get you any customers. Here are 10 features your agency must include when developing your site:
- Content Management System – it's ridiculous for agencies to hold their clients hostage anymore for updates and edits when so many fantastic content management systems are around. Content management systems allow you to add to and edit your site as you wish, when you wish. Your agency should be able to apply your design around virtually any robust content management systems' theming engine.
- Search Engine Optimization – if your agency doesn't understand the basics of search engine optimization, you need to find a new agency. It's like building a site with no foundation. Search engines are the new phone book… if you're not in it, don't expect anyone to find you. I'd push that they should even be able to help you with identifying some targeted keywords.
- Analytics – you should have a basic understanding of analytics and how to see what pages and what content your visitors are concentrating on so you can improve your site over time.
- Blogging and Video – blogging will provide your company with a means of communicating news, answer frequently asked questions and share successes with your prospects and clients as well as provide them with a means of following, via subscriptions, and communicating in return. Your feed should be publicized on every page. Video will add a ton to your site – it makes explanations of difficult concepts much easier as well as provides a great introduction to the people behind your company.
- Contact Form – Not everyone is going to want to pick up the phone and call you, but they will often write you through your contact form. It's safe and it's simple. They don't even need to program it… they can simply get you an account with online form builder,Formstack , and you'll be up and running!
- Mobile Optimization – Your site should look great on a mobile device. It's simple to develop a mobile CSS (stylesheet) that enables mobile visitors to browse your site, find your location, or click a link to make a phone call.
- Twitter – Your agency should build a compelling background for your Twitter page that matches the branding of your site. They should also integrate your blog using a tool like Twitterfeed to automatically tweet your blog updates. Your agency should also integrate twitter to your site, either through a simple social icon or by displaying your latest activity on your site.
- Facebook – Your agency should also apply your brand to a custom Facebook page and integrate your blog through the use of notes or Twitterfeed.
- Landing Pages – Well-designed Calls-To-Action on your site will provide a path to engagement for your visitors and a landing page will convert them into customers. Your agency should discuss options with you on how to drive leads through every page of your website – through demos, whitepapers, more information forms, ebooks, downloads, trials, etc. that collect contact information in return.
- Email Marketing – Visitors of your website are not always ready to buy… some of them may want to stick around for a while before they decide to purchase. A weekly or monthly newsletter that discusses relevant and timely information can be just the trick. Your agency should have you up and running with a branded email with a solid email service provider, like CircuPress. Your blog content can even drive automated daily emails through their system so you don't even have to login!
Some agencies may push back on doing all this work both on and off-site… I don't care. It's about time they stepped up with their clients and understood that simply pushing a pretty website is not enough. Nowadays, your strategy needs to beyond your site and include social media, search engine optimization, and inbound marketing strategies.
Attention agencies: If you're not preparing your clients to fully leverage the web, you're just taking money for a half-ass job. Your clients are relying on you to build them a web presence and strategy that gets them business.