When most people need a website, their first thought is that a coding engineer must get cracking on building it. That is like saying: I want a new house, let a builder start building. There are essential steps that need to be taken before a house can be built if you want a fully functional, good looking, appropriately sized house that is. This is 100% applicable to websites.
The essential components of website building are quality information gathering as your first step or phase along with well thought out site map planning, top quality content, and consistent, long term maintenance.
In this guide to the development of a website, we will show you the 6 phases you need to go through to create a website. There is a lot of unpacking to each phase not shown here, and if you are not highly skilled in such projects, it is advisable to get an experienced, agile project manager involved.
The steps are:
- Step 1 – Information Gathering
- Step 2 – Sitemap Planning
- Step 3 – Content Writing and Compilation
- Step 4 – Design and Architecture
- Step 5 – Coding, Reviewing, Launching
- Step 6 – Maintenance
Project Development Timeline
With any project, regardless of the industry, three project pillars are played off against each other throughout the project journey.
Money. Time. Quality.
- Less of one will always mean more of another, for instance:
- Less money could mean less time and less quality.
- If you use low-quality input, then you might spend more money fixing it.
- If you restrict the time, then quality may suffer.
- If you don’t want the quality to suffer then, you would need to spend more money to buy more working hours to meet the deadline and so on.
Development always takes longer than expected, as with building a house, as each project is a prototype and highly customised to client requirements and market UX requirements.
You do have to draw a line in the sand though to start. Create a website development timeline and list every task that feeds into the six steps as well as milestones. This is the advisable way to track the course of the project, or it will run away from itself and become a never-ending project.
You can create a Gantt chart in project-specific software or keep it as simple as a Gantt chart in an excel spreadsheet. Gantt software will automatically change steps in a project plan if things are moved whereas an excel spreadsheet will need lots of admin adjustments for the entire project every time a time frame changes. Our preference is GanttPRO.
Let’s look at the six steps now and some insight into them:
Step 1. Gathering Information
At this first stage, it is all about getting thoughts down onto paper, quantifying those thoughts, research, distilling the core purpose of the website, verifying the main Goals, and researching exactly which target market you are after.
This is a critical stage and should be done well as it will be the foundation and guide to all steps that follow from thereon.
The clearer your understanding of your website’s purpose, the outcomes you want to achieve and who you are targeting, the more successful your business strategy will be.
Depending on your visitors, e.g. teenagers, retired people, parents, etc., this will define the site’s required functionality according to purposes. The better this is planned, the less you will be spending on expensive changes later with retrofitting code and functionality.
We suggest you allocate up to 10 working days to this.
Step 2. Sitemap Planning
This phase is also called wireframe construction which is another phrase used in the home building industry. The website developer will put together data to give you, the client, a “thin” outline of the website to provide you with a feel for how it will look. This is not a fleshed-out final product. An artist would call it a sketch.
The sitemap is also created. That is the item that looks like a bulleted list on websites, the skeleton or verbal map.
It will show you the relationships between main pages and subpages. It will show you if there is a complicated way of accessing subpages (which is not good). If there are multiple bullets below the main point, then you should simplify that, or your customers will get frustrated or just give up and leave.
If you are building the website for someone else, then you should get their sign off before the big coding sprint. A mock-up (wireframe) should be produced, no colour, just a black and white “slide show” display of page by page. Keep time investment low on this. We use Moqups software for this.
If you are the developer, then you should be deciding on frameworks, content management system and programming language. Here are the most popular scripting and programming languages used:
- Objective C
We propose that you plan for 2 to 6 weeks of work on this phase.
Step 3 – Content Writing and Compilation
This is usually not a clear and separate step. It tends to build alongside the other stages and is refined along the way. It is still a vital part and should have some of its own time allocated to it.
You need to capture the very essence of your website’s purpose, inspire, motivate and put in calls-to-action (CTAs) buttons or hyperlinks.
You will need attention-grabbing headlines, writing up the article-style text for each page, cross-page hyperlinks etc. This takes time and effort. The client is usually expected to create this or to hire someone to build it on their behalf like a copywriter. There is a big difference in copy written by a professional and a non-professional.
It is if all website content is provided at once, by the very latest, during website coding.
We propose that you plan for 5 to 15 weeks of work on this phase.
Step 4. Design and Architecture
This phase includes the design of page layouts, the review of all work to date and the approval cycle. Things start to take shape. All the information that you have carefully created is influential in this phase, and images, photos and videos are sourced or made to expand on that information.
A designer is the one leading the website layout, and at this stage, it can be a sketch or a formal graphic design. The structure should give the best visualisation of the content, lead the eye and guide the user to functionality. It will include colours, logos, images, quotes, widgets and more. You should be able to see a reasonably good representation of the final product now.
If you are building this for a client, you then present it to them for review and to supply feedback. There will be a few back-and-forth iterations of this until final sign off is achieved.
We propose you assign 4 to 12 weeks of project time for this.
Step 5. Coding, Reviewing, Launching
This is an exciting phasing as its “roll up your sleeves” time. The website construction starts and will incorporate all earlier researched and designed graphic items and elements.
Usually, the sequence is home page first, and then you build out from there according to your sitemap. The developer must implement the frames and the content management system on the server, so make sure that everything planned can be managed smoothly by the server.
Creation and testing constantly happen during this phase as all the earlier designed page elements, unique features and interactivity are created, in that sequence, then tested. It is critical to the success of the website that the developer working on the site has senior technology knowledge and experience.
Plugins are added in this step, and the crucial stage of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) happens now. It is labour intensive, but without it, the website will wither and die. It is not only about title, description and keyword, but there is also a long list to work through of at least 200 best practices, search consoles being set up. This includes authentication and, after going live, getting your website indexed as soon as possible by Google’s crawlers. Right near the top of best practices is: quality of code – any invalid code will damage your ranking with search engines.
As stated, throughout this phase, testing is occurring. The sooner you test, the less backtracking you have to do. Test every link, check every form and script, check spelling, and use code validators – you can find free validators online. This is important to ensure cross-browser compatibility.
Once you are confident that sufficient checking and rechecking has been done, then you can upload it all to the server using File Transfer Protocol (FTP) software. Test the website from the front end to make sure everything is behaving the way it should.
We propose that you allocate 6 to 15 weeks work time for this and another 2 to 4 weeks for tweaking after uploading.
Step 6. Maintenance
This is a highly overlooked recurring step by website owners. The internet is littered with outdated, failing websites which is very damaging for brand image. Having a maintenance plan in place is a must. A website is part of sales and customer service, i.e. it’s a service, not a product, be sure to keep an eye on it and make sure it is performing.
If you are the website developer, you should also view it as a service. You should not view handover as the cut-off point. You must ensure that the website is 100% functional and that the client is satisfied. You must have budgeted (financially and timewise) for tweaking changes post-handover.
Whatever webmaster system you have set up will send you notifications of end-user problems. Fix them as fast as you can, or your client will lose clients and, by default, you will lose that client.
As a webmaster, keep your websites up to date. Regularly update CMS, prevent bugs and decrease security risks.
This is an ongoing cycle, and we propose, once the site is established, that you allocate a set time each week to check on each website.
And Off You Go!
So, to recap before we depart:
- Coding is not the be-all and end-all of website building, just like bricks aren’t the be-all and end-all of a house design.
- Preparation as a direct impact on all future steps. Know what your website must achieve, know your target market and keep that website fresh and updated just like a retail store. Old and dusty doesn’t sell.
- Budget for time post-launch to tweak the website until everyone is thrilled. Treat each phase as equally important, and the quality will show in the result.
- Allocate a marketing budget for website upkeep and updating, including security.
- Allocate a marketing budget for new website content weekly.
Are you looking for the best company to build your very first website and assist with all of those final touches, as well as website maintenance? Contact Big Rock Graphics as we have dealt with many first-time clients and have supported busy developers. We have a true passion for bringing brand new website concepts to life.
Allow us to be the team that creates an extraordinary website for your brand.
Having firm ownership of your domain name and website is paramount to the success of a business online. As the usual first point of contact in the digital space, your website is what clients first see of your brand and how they find out more about your offerings.
So, what happens when you miss or forget the renewal period? As an essential part of any business with an online presence, you must fully understand the process so you can protect your brand name and ensure you don’t lose your site address.
Don’t Leave It To The Last Second
If your site is registered as a .com.au, .net.au, .org.au or any other .au extension, a lapse in registration will result in the name becoming inactive and unavailable to users. If this happens, it will enter into what is known as a server hold whereby access is prohibited. This status will last around 30 days, during which time the owner can still renew the address. Once this period has passed, however, any name with Australian domain orientation and with the hold status will be deleted. If your website URL is deleted off the register, it will be open to the public and will be able to be bought by another person or even a competitor.
If you have a site address with an international extension, the expiration process can be a little more complicated as these are usually internationally based sites that must go through separate processes to those of AU specific sites. When owning a web address ending in .com, .net, .org, .info or .biz, the expiration process must go through different channels and bodies such as ICANN. Firstly, the address goes into the DNGP, a grace period that protects the website name. This lasts for around 40 days and allows you as the owner to still renew the name by paying the required fees upfront.
If you still have not renewed your site after this point in time the name then enters a further 30 days name redemption period. The original owner can still renew the address, but it is a costly and complex process taking a few days if not more. If the web address is still not renewed after this time it will then go into a 5-day pending delete phase.
After this allotted time the address will be available for registration by any other eligible party or business entity.
Dropping The Ball
When a web address becomes available to be purchased again, it is called a “dropped domain” and will appear as such on any register. This is the most dangerous time as it can be picked up by anyone crawling the dropped names list for good opportunities. As the online space is highly competitive, often these names can be bought up in moments, meaning you will most likely have to try and buy back your address from a third party.
When dealing with an Australian web address, you must ensure you are up to date with your registration and reminder emails. A decisive course of actions when the time comes is integral to the safety and security of your online presence. Not having an active site can bring into question the legitimacy and professionalism of your brand, and as such is not something that can be left to the side.
Protect your URL and be sure not to miss your renewal period. However, if you do, familiarizing yourself with the above information will give you some of the tools you’ll need to get it back under your control.
How Do You Avoid This?
Ideally, your domain will already be registered in your name with the correct contact details and, in the case of .AU domains, eligibility Name and ID that matches your details. If everything is okay in this regard, then your domain registrar should be offering the option to auto-renew your domains. System generated reminders will also be sent to the registrant email on the account at 90, 60, and 30 days from the renewal date.
For professional insight and a trusted hand in the digital space, be sure to contact Big Rock Graphics for website and digital marketing solutions for your business.
Don’t miss out on your domain renewal period in AU. Email or call today and we can discuss your options.
Search engine marketing is arguably the best way to maintain visibility at a time when the world is standing still. Connecting you with your local community and consumers is key to staying afloat. With COVID-19 having all but shut down the world, ensuring your audience can still find you online is integral to the success of your business over this time. While there are many ways to achieve this goal, harnessing SEM is an effective, efficient way to get there.
SEO as the foundation, relies on the organic building of value and authority to increase overall visibility. While this is highly important to the overall success of your strategy, as a practice, it does require time to build said value.
With the events of today, taking this a step further allows you to harness the paid aspects of Google, and in turn, reach a higher level of result in less time. It may not build the same authority as SEO, but it does allow you to bid and manoeuvrer your way to the top position quicker. AdWords offers various avenues to explore to ensure that you can have a diverse, all-encompassing and strategic approach to your overall design.
During a time where many are having to reduce spending and cut back on costs, there could be an opportunity for maintained and even increased visibility through lower keyword costs and competition.
What Is It?
AdWords, or pay-per-click as the approach is referred to, is a way to grasp the power of Google and its user base by paying for every interaction and bidding to appear above organic searches. Through bidding and strategic placement, you can promote your page as the top ad for your related keywords on Google.
These ads target certain interests and demographics to advertise the relevant product or service best directly linked back to those keywords. Taking into account many elements of your ad and page linked to it, it is not always simple or even possible to reach a top spot for every keyword selected. Only a few strategic ones may be fully engaged.
While your placement may not be guaranteed, the time it takes to apply is instant – once successful your ad is live and active. Utilising the location of your organisation within your placements also allows you to appear more relevant and of interest to those close by, meaning you can focus on different keyword sets that may be location-specific. Often used to boost initial exposure of a site until organic value is built and defined. Selecting word or phrase specific focus, allowing you to put your money where you see the most value.
This digital design gives you access to your actively searching, local market. Adjusting keyword selections to further refine your desired demographic as you grow, this is an effective means of reaching your broader audience through a massive platform in quick time. As a paid method of advertising on this platform, you only pay for the ads users have clicked through to, meaning you can adjust unsuccessful campaigns to ensure an ideal ratio of spending and return.
How Can It Help?
During a time where most are stuck inside, having the internet as their main source of interaction, well-placed communication could make a world of difference to your brand – a way to boost local activity within your community as well as reach out to your usual customer base. As people are bound to their suburbs, they need to be aware of what convenience is close by. Whether honing in on current needs and key engagements to promote your timely product or service, or utilising low bidding in areas to get more effective placement on keywords, well planned campaigns over AdWords can ensure you are visible at a time where more people are searching than pre-covid days.
Defined, targeted marketing as a key function allows you to directly reach the demographic you want. One of the quickest ways to boost website traffic and direct users to your pages, PPC allows you to define a range of features within your audience that appeals to your strategy. Increasing conversions and sales, this approach targets consumers at a critical point in their engagement. Targeting potential customers when they are actively searching for your product or service ensures you get quality leads and relevant traffic rather than appealing to a broader, undefined segment of the market. In a time of the pandemic, this is a useful tool to ensure the people who need your business can find it with ease – making you visible and valuable.
PPC allows you to expose your brand to a defined geographic region, meaning you can target your audience globally or locally, honing in on your ideal target market or active consumer group. Fast-paced exposure adds to it the ability to quickly promote or introduce new products to the market. Ready to go as soon as you are, this is an instant route of exposure that works as long as you get the bid. This level of digital interaction also gives you an allowance to actively control your advertising spend, targeting only a defined set of potential customers, and within a defined set of time and date parameters. Working in combination with other digital tools, this allows you to effectively manage online efforts to give you the best possible return on investment.
Top-notch search engine marketing is integral to the success of your modern brand. Trust in professional agencies to ensure you get reliable, high quality work that plays into the best practices of the day. Get in touch with Big Rock Graphics to further understand the intricacies of SEM.
Lead generation is a big part of the inbound marketing methodology. Welcome to the third and final part of the lead generation series. Following the previous two informative lessons, here we will go over how the entire process works, as well as the different lead funnel strategies that you can employ in your marketing strategy.
Lead Generation Process
If you’ve been following our educational series, outlining the lead generation process, you will already be familiar with terms like sales leads and lead funnels. Now, it’s time to walk through the steps of the lead generation process.
- Discovery – The visitor finds your business online through one of your channels (social media, blog, or website).
- Call-to-action (CTA) – The same visitor will interact with your CTA (a message, button, or image).
- Landing page – The CTA takes the visitor to a landing page; a web page designed to capture lead information in return for an offer (an e-book, a course, or a template).
- Contact form – Once on the landing page, the user will fill out the form and becomes a sales lead.
To sum the process up; a user clicks the CTA which takes them to a landing page where they will fill out a form in exchange for an offer, in turn, becoming a lead.
Put these four elements together and you’ll have a lead generation process. This is where using your various promotional channels to drive traffic to your landing page is necessary to generate leads.
There are several promotional marketing channels that one could use to flow towards a generated lead:
- Social media
- Ads and retargeting
- Product trials
- Referral marketing
Lead Generation Strategies
We’ve discussed what happens to a lead when it’s on your site but how do you get them there in the first place? Below we dive into the different methods of lead generation for a few of the most popular platforms right now.
Facebook Lead Generation
Since its inception, Facebook has been a favoured method for lead generation. When it was first gaining traction as a social platform, businesses attempted to use outbound links in their posts and information in their bios in a bid to attract users back to their web domains.
This came to an end when, in 2007, Facebook Ads was launched. This was when its algorithm started favouring accounts that utilised paid advertising. This created a major shift in how marketing was done and how leads were captured on Facebook.
It was for this purpose that Facebook created Lead Ads. Additionally, this social platform has a feature that allows its users to place a simple CTA button at the top of your business page. This is a great help when it comes to leading users back to your website since it’s so easy.
Twitter Lead Generation
Twitter’s lead generation tool is Twitter Lead Gen Cards, which allows users to generate leads straight from a tweet. This is all without needing to leave the domain. The card automatically pulls the user’s Twitter username, email address, and full name. All there is left to do is click ‘Submit’ and the user will become a lead.
LinkedIn Lead Generation
LinkedIn is the platform for professionals which more and more people are realising. This platform is optimal for marketing purposes, for one, the viewers outweigh the creators. LinkedIn is something that all businesses should be advertising on. This platform has created Lead Gen Forms. These auto-populate with a user’s profile contents once the CTA is clicked. This makes capturing information a breeze.
PPC Lead Generation
PPC stands for pay-per-click which refers to ads on search engine result pages (SERPS). Google gets roughly 3.5 billion searches each day which makes is prime real estate for marketing company ads, lead generation especially. Your PPC campaign will sink or swim based on whether there is a seamless user flow, not to mention, your budget, keywords, and a few other elements.
B2B Lead Generation
B2B is a business model that needs a certain approach to lead generation. This makes it a specific kind of method. SEO, for one, is a big part of this strategy as the top resource for capturing business leads. Following this is email marketing and social media. The effectiveness of this strategy is known to vary according to the channel. In summary, B2B lead generation needs a guide of its own.
This marks the end of our mini-series. To summarise, lead generation is your friend and all businesses should be employing these strategies within their digital marketing campaigns. Sales leads lead to profit and now you know how to generate and funnel those leads – the rest is up to you and your efforts.
If you’re interested in seeing what we can do, hit that ‘Contact Us” button and we’ll show you. For all things marketing, check out the varied digital services that we offer and find your perfect fit. You could say that we know a thing or two about digital marketing and design – refer to our testimonials for more.
Building on from last month’s article: A Beginner’s Guide To Growing Sales With Lead Generation And Lead Funnels, it’s time to dig a little deeper and learn more about how lead funnels work.
With this article you will come to understand of the different types of lead funnels that exist in the world of digital marketing.
What Is A Lead Funnel?
We started things off last time with a description of a sales lead; anyone that displays an interest in what your business is offering. Now, to jog your memory, a lead funnel is the journey with which the lead will take to turn into a profitable customer.
The Steps And How They Work
A lead funnel can range from simple to complex depending on what your sales process looks like. This is an example of what a simple lead funnel could look like:
- Lead magnet
- Landing page
- Thank you page
- Email nurture sequence
An effective lead funnel is one that is specially tailored to suit your business. The steps above are pretty rudimentary and can be expanded upon greatly. Having a little something to build upon is easier than staring at a blank canvas, right?
Converting Traffic Into Leads
Turning the traffic into leads is phase one of your lead funnel. Think of it this way, as a customer, before you hand over the cash you go through a process. You will move from being aware of the product, to interested, having a desire for the product, and finally, you will want to take action. The same goes for potential clients.
The role that lead funnels play in the buying process is helping potential customers move from being aware of the product to being moved to action and purchasing the product. To paint a picture, this process is typically illustrated as a funnel in marketing textbooks. Can you see why? Pour traffic into the funnel and paying customers will pop out.
Unfortunately, unlike real funnels, leads can leak out of the funnel and only a fraction will come out as customers. The way that you can prevent your funnel from overly leaking is by knowing the needs of your leads, as well as, the path they take to become customers. This will ensure that your funnel performs optimally.
The word ‘convert’ is super important as it’s the goal of this stage of the funnel. Keep this in mind when devising ways of making leads aware of and interested in your business.
Phase 1: Awareness
As we’ve mentioned, the first step is making potential customers aware of your existence. When it comes to the traffic that you are attempting to bring to your company website, the traffic can come from three sources:
- Earned media – reviews, word of mouth, referrals.
- Owned media – content marketing, website, social media, blog posts.
- Paid media – pay per click, advertising.
Before rushing to add a ‘sign up’ banner give leads a chance to learn more. Overly zealous marketing techniques are a quick way to scare off the leads you’ve worked so hard to acquire.
Phase 2: Collect Data
Officially speaking, this is the stage where you would strive to enter names into your database. However, names aren’t technically enough to count as leads per say. That’s why you should try to learn more than just their identity such as a way to contact them and their permission to communicate and market to them further.
Phase 3: Engagement
Now that you know more about your traffic, getting them to move further along the funnel is key here. The way to do so is by encouraging them to remain in contact with your marketing. This is often done by having potential leads attend a webinar, sign up to a newsletter, accomplish a lead capture form on a landing page, download an e-book, etc. This will bring your potential leads to the next step, engagement.
Before moving further along the funnel it’s important to engage with your audience. This is important for a number of reasons including being sure that they know they’re being marketed to and that there are okay with the marketing efforts continuing.
Phase 4: Target Leads
Once engagement has been achieved, the process can continue and it will be time for lead scoring. This determines whether a lead is viable or not. This act can be automatic or manual depending on the size of the group.
Phase 5: Qualified Lead Marketing
From this point on you will be dealing with viable, qualified sales leads. This makes the contact viable for further marketing efforts. To make it this far the lead will have displayed a serious interest in your business. This is where direct contact from your sales rep/team will commence.
Phase 6: Recycle Leads
If you don’t get it right the first time try, try again! There could have been a number of reasons as to why it didn’t work out the first time around. For instance, the timing could have been off. Leads that showed interest but leaked out of the funnel somewhere along the way can be entered into your recycled leads database and nurtured – just in case.
Phase 7: Qualified Sales Leads
Once a lead has shown continued interest and there has been good communication with the sales team, it’s safe to say that you’re near to a slam dunk at this juncture. This is when an executive would take over and either market further or drive the sale home.
Types Of Lead Funnels
There’s more than one way to qualify a lead, here are the top five types of lead funnels. These types of leads will be used in accordance with the type of product or service your business offers.
Type #1: The Survey Funnel
This funnel involves quizzing people that have signed up to your email list. Depending on the responses you can categorize the potential leads.
The structure of this funnel:
- Opt-in page
- Survey page
- Results page
Type #2: Lead Magnet Follow-Up
The idea is to get your audience interested in something enough to opt-in to get it. This could be a downloaded e-Book, a webinar, etc.
The structure of this funnel:
- Lead magnet landing page
- Opt-in page
- Download page
Type #3: Live Stream Funnel
This lead funnel uses the belief that access is scarce as it’s live. The only way to get to it is by opting into the funnel.
- The live stream
- Checkout/booking page
Type #4: Instant Quote Funnel
This funnel is a pretty useful one as prospects can qualify themselves. This is a way to get customers on your database by dangling revealing the cost of the service in front of them. This funnel is pretty similar to the survey funnel except that it’s a means to an end in most cases.
- The quiz
- Thank you page
That’s all there is to it. Now you know what leads are, how they turn into customers, as well as, the different routes this can take. Stay tuned for our next lesson!
If you’re interested in boosting your digital marketing or starting from the ground up, then Big Rock Graphics are here for you. For all things marketing, check out the varied digital services that we offer then hit the “Contact Us” button.
Hold onto your seats while we take you back to the beginning. When it comes to growing your business and increasing your sales, there are things that you can do to guide your marketing strategy in the right direction.
What Is A Lead?
Before we dig any deeper on the subject, let’s clarify exactly what the ‘lead’ part of lead generation and lead funnels is.
A lead is anyone that shows interest in what you’re selling. Leads typically come from a business opening up communication be it through an online contact form or a mail subscription list. There are different leads that can be grouped according to how they qualify as a lead and that stage of the process that they are in.
Lead Generation: An Overview
Now that we’ve gone over what a lead is, it’s time to talk about increasing the number of leads your business has. This is called lead generation; the process of attracting and converting a stranger into an interested party.
Some lead generator examples:
- Online content
- Live events
- Blog posts
These are just a few lead generation strategies that you can implement in your marketing campaign that can result in more interested buyers joining the conversation.
A Lead Funnel
A lead funnel or a lead generation funnel is similar to a sales funnel in that it is a pathway involving a series of stages that a lead will go through before being labeled a profitable customer.
Stages of the lead funnel:
- Lead capture
- Marketing qualified leads
- Sales qualified leads
- Opportunities leads
Why Lead Generation Is A Must
Think of it this way, you’ve caught the attention of someone online and they’ve subscribed to your monthly newsletter. What’s your plan to get someone that’s idly curious into being full-on interested and willing to become a buyer. This is where lead generation comes in. It’s the process that you need to nurture and grow your leads so that they convert into sales.
If you’re looking for a little something extra to boost your digital marketing, check out Big Rock Graphics. You could say that we know a thing or two about branding – a definite understatement, but you know. For all things marketing, check out the various services that we offer.