1. Buying your domains
A domain is the name and location of your future website – and if you’ve already got an established brand, buying your domain is a straightforward process. There a range of affordable and trusted suppliers to purchase domains from, and it’s as simple as finding your desired domain and purchasing it. If you haven’t got an established brand, or your desired URL is already taken, you’ll need to choose a new domain. There are a few best-practices to follow in choosing a domain:
Simple and memorable
Short and sweet web addresses are more likely to be remembered than long and complicated ones. Similarly, misspelled or uncommon words, punctuation and obscure top-level domains can all hinder your website’s visibility. In other words, avoid awesome-shoez.net and opt for awesomeshoes.com instead.
Brand names are usually unique – allowing your website to benefit from a clear identity, and a monopoly on traffic for your chosen brand name.
The days of keyword-stuffed domains are long-gone, and a website URL along the lines of freeshoescheapshoes.com screams one thing only to potential visitors – SPAM!
Notice how I wrote ‘domains’, plural? In order to protect your brand in the long-run, it’s a great idea to buy up common variants and misspellings of your chosen domain. It costs a few dollars to do, and it prevents anyone from imitating your site at a later date.
2. Choosing a Content Management System (CMS)
A domain without any content isn’t useful to anyone – so you need to find a platform to help you create and display your articles, products and blog posts. With almost 70 million websites using its user-friendly interface, WordPress is an incredibly popular choice. It’s the world’s leading CMS, used in 19% of the all websites in existence; and it’s perfect for a fledgling digital business.
WordPress allows anyone to create an effective, attractive website, regardless of technical knowledge. As well as offering a host of built-in functionality, WordPress also features a Plugin Library. It’s bursting at the seams with free applications, each designed to provide a host of professional features and benefits, and integrate seamlessly into your website.
3. Designing your website
First-impressions count in all areas of life – but on the internet, they can make or break your business. Your website design has a huge impact on website traffic, visitor trust, click-through rates, and overall user-experience. As a result, your website design needs to be carefully considered; and reflective of your brand, products and mission statement.
There are three main ways to develop your website design:
Hire a designer
Getting in touch with a specialist website designer will allow you to develop a site from the ground-up. You’ll be in full-control of every visual element, and you’ll have the benefit of professional expertise backing-up your decisions.
Code it yourself
Purchase a WordPress theme
WordPress is designed with design-novices in mind, and for as little as $20, you can purchase a complete WordPress theme to redesign your website. They’re incredibly easy to use, with installation often as simple as dragging-and-dropping your theme template into the right directory – but they can be slow, badly-optimized and used on hundreds of other identical websites. As a general rule, you get what you pay for – so be willing to pay extra for the most unique, attractive and effective themes.
If your budget allows, hiring a designer will ensure that your website is professional, functional and completely unique – but installing a pre-made WordPress theme is another viable option. Importantly though, this is not an area you should cheap-out on – and an unattractive, poorly-functioning website will kill your chances of digital success.
4. Setting up Social Media profiles
Social media networks can drive a staggering amount of targeted traffic to your website. Once you have a functional site set-up, complete with content, you’re able to offer value to prospective customers – and you can start developing a social media following.
It’s crucial to avoid spreading your efforts too thin. Instead of blasting the same content across 20 networks, it’s better to focus your social media engagement across a handful of the most relevant sites. Research your target audience, and discover which sites they engage with – think LinkedIn for business professionals, and Facebook for small business owners.
5. Installing website analytics
With a fully-functional, well-designed website, and an engaged social media network, you can expect to see some traffic heading towards the site. Great! But… what should you do with it? Where are the leads coming from? What are they looking for?
Analysis is the key to understanding your traffic, and marketing to them effectively. Google offers an incredible suite of free-to-use resources and applications, and they can offer you powerful insights into your traffic and leads. Best of all, they can easily be integrated into your WordPress dashboard, for easy-to-access metrics and insights.
6. Building Relationships
Last, but by no means least – you should begin building relationships. Digital marketing is, first and foremost, a process of connecting with people. Whether it’s through your great content, incredible customer service or professional opinions, your business can build a genuine relationship with potential customers and powerful influencers. Use social media, email, Skype, whatever you have at your disposal – and begin talking to people.