One of the biggest parts of planning your website is figuring out what type of functionality you'll need to meet your business goals. In this section we'll walk through primary functions you may need your website to perform.
Lead is simply another way of saying email. If you are using SMS mobile text messages in your marketing to communicate with customers/potential customers, a mobile phone number will suffice. If you plan to market, building your lead list with quality leads is key.
Your site should offer users a way to give you their contact information so they can hear from you. This is easily captured when you offer them some sort of freebie in return for their email or mobile phone number. This freebie is called your lead magnet. Examples of lead magnets include:
- discount coupons
- digital downloads (ebooks, white papers, etc.)
- free webinars
The actual lead capture tool is simply a form that the user must fill in so they can get the freebie. It's highly recommended the form is tied to your email marketing software so communication and delivery of the lead magnet is delivered in a timely manner. Timely in today's terms is basically instantly.
And remember...there is no shame in asking for people's email. Everyone does it!
Capturing leads will come later in the course. Just making note of what you will need.
As much as you may be annoyed by ALL of the email you may get, email usually always outperforms social media (even paid ads) and plus...sending it is considerably cheaper. As your list grows, you will be paying more for your email marketing service, but the payoff is worth it. Especially when you've built quality leads. Some of the most recognizable email marketing platforms include:
- ActiveCampaign (my recommendation)
- Constant Contact
We'll discuss email marketing later in the course. But there is likely no instance where this function would not be recommended.
Just to drive home my point, here are some examples of how intuitive email marketing can be.
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Take a look at this email from West Elm. After I just looked at this rug, this landed in my inbox.
Abandoned shopping carts are very popular email marketing tactics.
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Amazon used email to ask me for a review. Reviews are pretty much the judge and jury these days.
If you will be selling ANYTHING from your website and collecting money on site, you will need an eCommerce site. Obviously this adds a very important layer to your site's functionality. With eCommerce you may want to consider
- Membership capabilities
- Learning Management Systems (eLearning)
Membership websites give you the opportunity to protect your content from those who either didn't pay to access it with money or an email address.
For example, if you are selling an eCourse and only want paid members to be able to see it, then you need a membership site. While there are some membership capabilities built into standard WordPress, using the proper plugins can really allow you not only get specific about who sees what, but allows you to communicate with them very differently in your email marketing.
Membership websites can be quite amazing and allow you to really grow in a different way than you might have once imagined. Perhaps you have a business selling a product, and later want to teach a class that relates to that product. A membership site will allow you to do that.
Subscription capabilities are a great way to generate recurring revenue. Perhaps your content is only offered on a monthly basis? Perhaps you want to offer it on a yearly basis with a discount for paying in advance? You can do that and automatically charge your customers method of payment.
By properly setting up subscription functionality on your website, users are able to access their subscriptions, make changes, update and cancel.
Have you notices why everyone seems to have some sort of recurring payment product offering.
A learning management system is software used to create your eCourse or eLearning environment. This particular course is using a learning management system to deliver my course content. While you can get away without one, it's not recommended and a lot more trouble. A great LMS lets you do all sorts of fun things.
- Track student progress
- Organize content more easily
- Drip content to your users on your terms
- Certify people
- Use gamification in your course
- and so much more.
Because eLearning has pretty much blown up and is the way of the future, there are tons of companies offering LMS platforms. While there are some great ones to choose from, I recommend using tools that you control and own. Self-hosted platforms are not at all bad, but if their systems go down, so will your course until they can get them back up. It's likely rare, but it can happen.
Having a blog is a great way to create meaningful content that shows you as the expert in the business you truly are. A lot of people think of blogs and roll their eyes. But they fail to realize they can be serious business when done correctly. Think of your as your own personal news outlet and you will see it differently. Did you know The New Yorker, BBC and Disney all use WordPress?
Through a blog you can:
- Schedule content for publication
- Share your content to other platforms
- Categorize all of your content to create your own library of knowledge
- and beyond.
Social integration is a great way to make things easier for you and your users. For example, with social integration you can
- Allow users to easily register on your website.
- Allow users to share your content with others in their social communities.
- Feed your social media content into your site (can sometimes balance the need for product photo galleries).
Planning, designing and building a website has come a long way. Using a website builder is the only way to go, in my opinion. A good website builder gives you the flexibility to build your site so it looks exactly how you want it to look. When you uses a website builder...
- You don't need to learn how to code.
- You don't need to know Photoshop.
- You don't need any special training.
And the end result is a beautiful website that is no more inferior than the best of them!