Stop thinking of your website as a flashy virtual storefront. Done well, it can be a supercharged system that supports your entire operation

By George Easton

So you’re a $500,000 business and you’d like to be a million dollar business. How do you reach that goal?

For many business owners the answer to that question lies in three words – build a website – but unfortunately it’s never that simple. A website is only part of your company. It’s a cog in a machine, not the machine itself, and it’s certainly not going to double your revenue overnight. 

Too many companies knock out a website, sit back, and wait for the money to pour in. But not every website is the same, and figuring out what’ll serve your business best means first figuring out what you should build, how it will fit into what you already have, and how it can drive your overall strategy.

The Do’s

Manage your expectations

A website is a tool that is meant to work a certain way, based on a certain set of needs that are different for each situation. When you think of it this way, you realize that it really doesn’t matter what it looks like, it matters whether it works. Manage your expectations accordingly – you don’t need something that looks pretty, you need clear, realistic goals and a website that meets them.

Think about integration 

Your CRM platform is the epicentre of what happens inside your digital footprint. Your website is the epicentre of what happens on the outside of your digital footprint. And the two are concretely married together. Websites are not separate entities, they’re an integral part of your business. To optimize their performance, you have to carefully align them with your existing strategies around branding, advertising, marketing, and sales. 

Have a way to track results

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – marketing is a science, not an art. And, like any science, it relies on data. If you don’t have a way to track and measure your website’s performance, you’re wasting your time. 

What’s the goal of the website? Who are the constituents of that website? How do you measure various data points based on those constituents? And, since you’re measuring things, what do you get from those measurements? How should you shift or change your messaging, structure, interface, etc based on those metrics?

A website isn’t an inanimate object, it’s a living, breathing, organic tool that can do a lot for your business if you nurture it properly. You should be ready to run experiments and continually improve the performance of your website because the better it performs, the less you need to lean upon other areas of acquisition, such as advertising.

The Don’ts

Don’t think of it as a brochure 

The majority of people still believe that a website is like a brochure. It’s not. There are many different styles and types, but ultimately your website is an intelligence gathering machine and an intelligence offering machine, letting potential customers know what you’re about through curated content. Don’t get distracted by how flashy it looks, it’s worth more than window dressing to your business. 

Don’t meddle with it necessarily

Human beings love novelty, and that means we often make unfair judgments about things that we perceive to be stale. Websites are no exception. You may feel the urge to update yours every few years, but be wary of tweaking a well-functioning site just for the sake of it. 

I’m a big believer in making incremental changes based on data. Looking at the measurements can give you an idea of whether a website refresh is really a worthwhile project. Run your experiments, get feedback, tweak some elements to see if you get a positive or negative reaction – make the changes that make sense. 

George Easton is ion8’s CEO. He’s a master of making digital technologies work for business by streamlining operations, improving online presences, creating and reinforcing brands, and selling products and services effectively online. George is a certified Google AdWords & Analytics professional, a certified Google Educator and a cloud communication technology guru. Additional skill sets include: Clio Certified Consultant and Certified Zoho CRM Consultant.