Dennis Kimetto is the fastest marathon runner in the world (2 hours, 2 minutes and 57 seconds1, in case you were curious).
I’m happy when my Nike app hits two miles, and I’m still in motion. So, beyond physical stature, where does Kimetto’s endurance come from?
The runner’s prior occupation gives clues. Kimetto was a farmer in Kenya, growing maize and raising cows. It takes habitual nurturing and patience to watch tiny seeds turn into revenue streams. One must battle unpredictable climate, be patient and observant, and, most of all, work at it day in, day out.
Same goes for running a marathon. Same goes for a website.
Let’s look at the old definition of the above-mentioned marketing tool that has baffled millions since the beginning of time (which is really August 6, 1991, the day research organization CERN published the first ever website). A website used to be an online receptionist with a company script, born from a one-and-done approach.
New definition: a relationship builder that takes your business the distance in a digital age. It must win over fickle hearts, anticipate questions and make people (who, by the way, will change on a regular basis) feel good.
A great website requires endurance. Otherwise it’s standing still. Not good.
People, markets, products, missions, reasons to buy – these variables change. One of my clients is in the low voltage electrical industry. Three years ago we targeted general contractors. Today it’s data centers. Oops, we missed the memo. Yes, we’re redoing the website now, but how many people visited during that time and left feeling vacant? More than I care to think about.
As a storyteller and collaborator with BuildThis, we invite the visitor, the website and the company to run alongside each other in a continuum of time. Why is this important? Abraham Lincoln said, “I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.”
A website with endurance must always walk forward.
#1 Talk to Your Visitors All the Time
If you think interesting things come out of the mouths of babes, just ask your customers a few questions. They’ll give you an earful – and it’s a good thing too. They are the reason we’re doing all this website stuff.
Ask them about your site’s functionality, what kind of experience it gives them, how it aligns with their organization’s values, and what drives them crazy when they land on it. Be in a continuous state of progress.
List events. Then, assign someone to update them regularly. When a customer knows they can see you at a tradeshow or industry shindig, you increase face time. Put a scheduling plug-in next to the date and people might even tee up a meeting.
According to the International Smartphone Mobility Report by mobile data tracking firm Infomate, Americans spend about 26 minutes a day texting versus six minutes a day on voice calls2. Expect the typing/clicking trend to continue. On that note, make sure your site keeps pace with technology and is responsive (adaptive to a variety of devices).
#3 Email Drip Campaigns
There’s real value in automated emails when they are authentically written with the sweat of your company’s brand and steeped in content value. A study by Silverpop3 revealed that drip open rates were 80 percent higher than single sends.
Adding a drip email campaign on your website – an opt-in where they get “10 Days of Living Large” or “8 Weeks to Find Your Inner Writer” – gives another call-to-action for visitor engagement over a specified period of time.
Thought leadership aside, blogs make you more findable. Fresh content is the darling of Google algorithms. More to the point, blogs tell your company story – fully, richly and authentically. Posts become a miniseries to educate and enlighten, inform and inspire.
#5 Your Customers Are Not Case Study Fodder
Nothing against case studies, but they are so, how do I say this, rigid. Where are your success stories? Who are your cheerleaders? Now you have my attention. Forget the touchdown you scored five years ago. How are you helping people succeed today?
#6 Links and Social Media Share Buttons Aren’t Just Extra Clicks
Look at social media on your website like you’re staring across the room at THE one. Make it personal. Beyond mere symbols, what are you specifically sharing and how current is it? Share a quote or content point or event. Jeff Goins does a superb job on this. Keep them fresh. As for links, I’m in love. Author and minimalist expert Courtney Carver uses them like a pro.
#7 Video and Audio
Sometimes people resist video and audio because they think it’s expensive. It can be, but not always. Both formats tell your story in fast, findable and interesting ways. Don’t let these sit there like leftover brussel sprouts in the back of the fridge. Robust content is the oxygen behind website endurance.
#8 Rethink the Customer Journey
We’re all on a journey. Journeys change with time. I used to care what labels I wore. Now I’m happy to have a clean pair of jeans. People change. Journeys change. How does your website move people through their customer journey today – from awareness to research to purchase to evangelist?
#9 Update Downloadable Marketing Assets
Keep free downloadables current: guides, reports, ebooks, PDFs, templates, checklists, toolkits. Archives are one thing, dated content is another. Two great examples of content I salivate for: Seth Godin’s “Free Stuff” and Hubspot’s ever changing marketing library.
#10 Talk to Internal Stakeholders
It’s so easy to take for granted the ones we love, isn’t it? Involve your internal stakeholders: legal, sourcing, C-suiters, frontline salespeople, your receptionist, R&D, shipping. Ask periodically how they think the website can connect you with visitors more deeply.
Habitual training and attention cultivates a marathon mentality. Websites, take your mark. It’s go-time.
Michele Kelly is a corporate storyteller and ghostwriter for growth-inspired businesses and iconic C-suite executives. Contact her at email@example.com or 630-697-2652.
1Competitor.com, January 18, 2016