During the past 10 years I have met with and helped a variety of clients who wish to redesign or rebuild their website because their current one is seemingly ineffective. I've found that all clients fall into one of three categories:

1. They want to throw in the towel and concede that the Internet is not for them or simply does not work.

2. They believe that just adding the Social Networking links to their website or having a blog is enough to boost their Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

3. They want to unleash the power of the Internet for their business but just don't know how to proceed

Are you putting lipstick on a pig with your website?

I often akin the approach to adding social media, blogging, and SEO infrastructure to a bad website to putting 'lipstick on a pig.'

When talking to clients, I no longer focus solely on the redesign of their website; I talk to them about a complete online presence rebranding strategy. Until recently, a traditional marketing approach was acceptable to generate traffic to a website. However, gone are the days where you strategically place ads in magazine, phonebooks or billboards, make cold calls or push your product onto the public. What has taken its place is the idea of nurturing relationships and engagingyour leads with content and conversations.This new train of thought is what we in the business call inbound marketing.

As I mentioned the other week, a huge reason for these ugly children is the misconception that a company's marketing campaign and website are two separate entities. This is simply not true. Your website is and should be the nucleus of your inbound marketing campaign. The two should complement, not supplement, each other.

This does not mean that because you added a 'Like us on Facebook' or 'Follow us on Twitter' button to your website, it is part of the inbound marketing initiative. You need to completely adopt the new way of marketing and integrated it throughout your entire website.You need a structured, effective, and usable website in order to move forward with your inbound marketing campaign.

Inbound marketing is structured as a funnel:

Inbound Marketing Sales FunnelTop - visitors find your website. This stage is often referred to as the research stage. For this reason, engaging content, blogs, and social media are very important to keep the visitor.

'¢ Middle - prospects begin to convert to leads. They see your company and your product as a potential solution to their problem. Here, Calls to Action are very important. A good example of this is if a client, after reading a blog post, decides to download a white paper. The prospect is sent to a landing page where they can register to download this white paper. You should market them appropriately based on their behavior on your site.

'¢ Bottom '- leads turn to you to fix their problem because they are certain you can do it. This is the point at which the customer is ready to buy, and does so.

Of course, it is important at the bottom of the funnel to analyze the process to make it even more efficient.Again, none of this can happen if you are 'putting lipstick on the pig.' Engaging content, sound SEO infrastructure, and a fully integrated marketing plan are at the center of a good website. Neither your website nor your digital marketing strategy is autonomous. They work together and when everything is done right, will yield a big return.

Ben Bassi
By Ben Bassi

Founder and CEO of CommonPlaces, is a seasoned Internet veteran and marketing executive. His extensive experience in Web-related business dates back to the early ‘90s; with a career specializing in digital strategy, planning, and marketing.

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