One of the very first questions I ask my clients is:

What do you want your website to accomplish?

It’s simple, straight to the point, and surprisingly hard to answer.

That’s because most businesses know they need a website, but they don’t know what they truly want to accomplish with it. The result is an overly generic website that doesn’t meet the needs of their customers.

I’ve come across so many well-meaning websites with a bare-bones contact form and a sparse home page that always manages to direct visitors to “like us on Facebook!”.

That may be okay for your competitors, but if you want to excel above your competition, impress site visitors and turn them into customers, your website needs to have a plan— and sending your visitors away from your site and onto your social media profiles isn’t the right plan.

Don’t get me wrong— it’s great to have and market your social media profile to your customers, but it’s not enough.

You need a solid base from which to operate. Your website is like a hub, and everything else (your customer reviews on Yelp, your community development on Facebook, your content marketing on your blog, your audience engagement on Twitter, your inspiration photos on Instagram) extends out from it. Your website is the definitive source of your online persona.

And for this reason, we’ve got to make it look, feel, and act like the ultimate resource.

The SMART Plan

[Tweet "It all starts with a SMART plan."]

Ever heard of SMART goal setting? SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-Based, and it’s a popular way of creating goals that you can actually accomplish.

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Here’s how to apply SMART goals for your business website.

S is for Specific

This is always the most important part of your goal setting process, and it’s going to take up the lion’s share of our discussion.

Specific means you must resist the urge to go generic here. Instead of boldly declaring, “I want more site visitors” (generic), get as detailed as possible:

I want to boost visitor to lead conversion rates by 50%.
I want to increase the length of time visitors stay on my website.
I want to improve user satisfaction by creating a more informative support area.
I want to encourage site visitors to join my email list to increase my list by 25%.

Not sure what to ask for? Let’s take a look at the top five ways to utilize a website:

Showcase Your Products -

You’re a business, so you’re definitely selling a product. What better place to highlight your products than on your website?

Without a doubt, your website is the best way to introduce visitors to what you offer. You can shamelessly self-promote because that’s what your visitors expect. Here’s your chance to go into great detail about each product.

Go beyond price and venture into benefits. Always keep your target customer in mind, and then use your website to market specifically to that one customer. Find their pain points and position your product as the solution.

Build Brand Awareness -

Use your website to explain who you are as a brand. Discuss the history and motivation behind your business. Do you have a unique story of origin? Is it something that can inspire others?

Use your website as a platform to increase knowledge of who you are and why you are.

Grow Your Community -
Would you like more comment activity on your blog? How about more subscribers for your email newsletter? Or increased membership signups?

With a well-planned website, you can make it easier for your customers and brand fans to interact with you and with each other.

Establish Your Thought Leadership -
Do you have something to share with your industry? Would you like to be part of the dialogue of change?

Your website can help you get involved in that conversation by giving you a platform (that you own) to share revolutionary ideas.

Educate through Content Marketing -
Most people aren’t ready to buy immediately. They like to wade in carefully, and only make the decision to buy once they feel confident about the product and your brand.

You can help guide them along with a big helping of content marketing. That is, using the content on your website (your product pages, your FAQs, your blog, and your email courses) to help them understand why your product is the perfect solution to their needs.

Decide what you’d like to do most with your website. It’s okay if you’d like to do more than one thing.

Based on the above, here are a few examples of specific goals you may want to borrow:

-Educate prospects about XYZ product
-Create landing pages that match up specifically to paid ad campaign
-Improve security so that customers feel comfortable buying products
-Create an autoresponder that wins back customers who abandon carts
-Provide a continuing education resource to customers who have already purchased a product
-Create an internal website with an onboarding process for new remote employees
-Re-engage existing customers by hosting quarterly contests
-Simplify the browsing experience so that site visitors can get to exact page they’re looking for

I can go on and on, but you get the idea. Your goal for your website can be sweeping and affect the entire site, or could be narrow and pinpointed to a single part of your online user experience. But above everything else, your goal must be specific.

Ask yourself, have I gotten as specific as possible with my goals?

M is for Measurable

In addition to being specific, your goal must be measurable.

In terms of website development, the question to ask is, how will I know that I’ve met my goal? or what will success look like?

Here’s an example of what I mean.

If your goal is to create an autoresponder that wins back customers who’ve abandoned their shopping carts on your ecommerce site, you’ll know that you’ve met your goal when an increased amount of customers return to complete their order.

You start by knowing how many customers do that now. Let’s say 0% if you don’t have a win-back campaign in place. Then, project a realistic (more about that later) target of how many customers you want to win back. Let’s say 5% (this is the measurable part). Then, we create an autoresponder for your ecommerce site, and you set a goal deadline of three months from now. In three months’ time, you’ll use your measuring stick to determine the success of your goal. If you meet or pass it, you win. Sorry to bring math into this.

A is for Actionable

This is where you put the “verb” in your goal setting.

Two important questions to ask yourself:

How will you make this goal a reality? Get specific with what steps you’ll need to take.

Who will be involved? Assign individual responsibilities for yourself and everyone else involved with making the goal successful. That may just be you and me. Don’t worry. It won’t be awkward at all.
Image Courtesy of Blaze Press

I’m just being silly. I don’t have a cat that looks like that.

R is for Realistic

It’s one thing to create a goal, it’s another thing to actually accomplish it. Always be a realist when it comes to goal setting.

Ask yourself, is it possible to actually accomplish this goal?

If you’re not sure what can be done within a specific timeframe, just ask. I’m here to help.

T is for Time-based

Goals aren’t immortal. All goals should have an expiration date. Definitive deadlines are powerful motivators to accomplish a goal in a specific time frame.

For your website, this means that you’ve assigned a due date to represent success.

Here are two examples:

Create a paid membership site by June 30, 2016.
Switch over payment gateways from PayPal to Stripe by August 15, 2016.

The question you must ask here is, what’s the expiration date for this goal?

Final Thoughts

Follow the above tips to create a sound and realistic goal or set of goals for your business website. If you need any help, I’m happy to answer your questions. Leave a comment below, contact me, or hit me up on Twitter @rezzz.

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