Creating long-term goals for your website helps you stay on track and not get distracted by the latest trends or small bumps in the road. Ideally, your site traffic and conversion rates increase consistently over time. Without a plan, though, you may have long periods with zero growth.
According to experts, there are around 1.78 billion websites online. The number constantly changes, going up and down by the second. You must develop robust strategies for the next several years if you want to stand out amidst all the noise on the internet.
You’ve heard of business plans for corporations. A website plan isn’t much different. The focus, however, is narrower and hones in on what you need to do to be successful in the digital realm.
Step 1: Lay Out Your Vision
You probably already have a mission statement for your company. Think about your vision for your online presence. Ideally, what impact does your website have on potential customers? How is your site different than those of your competitors? If people said one sentence about you, what would you want those words to be? Brand image is more about how others see you, but an excellent place to start is with how you would like them to picture your organization.
Ashley & Co. does a fantastic job of stating what they’re about the minute you land on their page. Note the focus on why they do what they do. They also say that they’re a modern-day scent company. They want users to understand that their products bring a sense of calm. Even the image backs up their statement.
Step 2: Create an Editorial Calendar
Regularly sharing new content brings people back to your site for information. Week after week of posting new articles becomes tedious, though. Creating an editorial calendar helps alleviate some of the stress. For example, you know you’ll share gift giving ideas during the holidays and highlight new product arrivals on the first day of each month. You can also share authoritative roundup posts, offering your expert opinion on industry-related topics. Sit down and brainstorm ideas and plug them into the calendar.
Think about some of the questions your customers have about your products or services. How can you answer them via an article or video? Consider the different types of content you’ll offer. You might share blog posts, include video snippets and even thrown in an infographic here and there. Some of the content should be shorter and other pieces more extensive.
People love a good story. Your company history is a big part of what makes you unique as a brand. Describing where you started and where you’re going is sometimes easier said than done, though. Come up with creative bits to highlight your best features. Study your competitors’ stories to see what makes yours stand out.
Durex uses their hero image slider on their website to highlight the fact they’ve been around since 1964. Their longevity is impressive to first-time site visitors. Many of their competitors are much newer to the industry, so their experience is a significant selling factor for those looking for quality commercial flooring.
Step 4: Profile Your Competition
Speaking of competitors, do a deep dive into who yours are and how you stack up. Use a S.W.O.T. analysis and see what your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and trouble areas are. By outlining things you need to improve, highlighting what you do well, and finding chances to improve, your online business plan will become a storyboard of your organization’s success.
Step 5: Plan Out Revenue Streams
The most successful businesses have various revenue streams. If there’s a downturn in the economy or sudden competition in one sector, the others still bring in funds. How do you pay your site fees? Are the services you invest in paying for themselves? While you want to plan out your projected revenue for the next few years, you must be flexible. Your business plan is a map, but it’s okay to go off the beaten path if an amazing opportunity presents itself.
Newegg takes a page out of Amazon’s book but goes niche to tech-related products. You’ll find they’ve branched into several types of products to bring in multiple revenue streams. Find tech items, gift ideas and work-from-home kits. They also jumped onto the COVID-19 pandemic to provide back-to-the-office offerings. Look at what you sell and see if there are places where you can branch out and bring in more money. Perhaps there is a service you could provide or a premium add-on.
Step 6: Look at the Human Factor
Spend time thinking about who you need to make your online presence the best it can be. At a minimum, you need a stellar web designer and a marketing guru. However, don’t overlook other roles, such as highly trained live chat agents or warehouse workers who fulfill orders.
You should also pay attention to who you work with for logistics. Do some research on the best companies to get your items delivered quickly. Amazon and Walmart set the standard with two-day deliveries and free shipping. How can you best compete?
Consider the Big Picture
To develop a long-term business plan for the web, you should take a step back and look at things through the lens of where you are now and where the internet might be in a few years. The way people search online changes every year and trends in design shift. Focus on the goals you’d like to reach and adjust other aspects of your plan as needed.