The White Pine Saloon: A Blog

Welcome to Sawtooth Media's blog. Kick up your feet, order a tall cold one, and discuss what's going on around the web. Re-launch


Why We Both Need A New Website: Sawtooth Media Re-Launch

In November of 2007, Sawtooth Media’s first website was launched. Fast forward to today, and we’re happy to present version 2.0. While I am eager to write a blog post to spotlight how excited I am about the new website and how awesome it looks, I think it would be more suitable to write about the reasons why I decided that it was time for a new website, the processes behind building and structuring the website, and how you can apply what I’ve done to your business’ website.

The Decision to Throw Away Website Version 1.0

Most of us are guilty of it. Do you know why I decided to go for another new site (besides the old site looking old)? It’s probably not obvious at first.

The entire 1.0 site was designed to show off me, myself, and I. It talked about my skills, what I can do, who I am, and the services that I provide. This is good to show off my skills, but nowhere on the site did I explain how the combination of Sawtooth Media and search marketing would grow your business and how a relationship with Sawtooth Media would bring you value. Long story short, I never spoke directly to the audience visiting my site and address their specific problems. The website was built for me, not for my audience.

You can back up why this is such an issue with statistics and site analytics: bounce rates, page views per visit, goal conversions, time on sit, etc. Copy that speaks to your audience should theoretically keep your audience more engaged. But something you cannot measure is the satisfaction of the user when they see you’re specifically speaking to them. Make it known that you’re aware of the different users that come to your site, and address their specific issues.

The Process Behind the New Site

The original Sawtooth Media site I was quite proud of. I got a lot of good compliments; it looked professional and it drove some leads for my business. But as I got deeper and deeper into online marketing, the more and more I saw that to have a successful website, you have to address the pain-points of your potential customers. Saying that version 1.0 was dropping the ball is an understatement.

The realization came to me during the summer of 2010 when I picked up a book called ‘The New Rules Of Marketing & PR’ written by David Meerman Scott. The book discusses today’s strategies of talking to and acquiring buyers directly. In short, it discusses how a majority of websites today are built for companies to brag about who they are, forgetting about their audience.

Think about that for a second: most websites are created without even thinking about the audience who will be visiting it. It’s sad but true: most websites today are still stuck in ‘2003-mode’, where they explain what their businesses offer, much like an informational packet or brochure.

Because of this realization, I managed to step back, looked at who was interested in my search engine marketing services, and go to work. After some thought about my business, I created three personas for my site to revolve around… I even game them names:

  • Tim, the small business owner, who is interested in growing his business
  • Mike, the agency owner, who is interested in offering new services to retain and attract more clients
  • Derrick, the consultant, who is interested in pursuing a unique partnership for miscellaneous business purposes

So I guess I’ve spilled the beans, but that’s how I decided to organize my site. I want to communicate more effectively with my audience by speaking to them more directly, hopefully addressing issues that they’re trying to solve. Only time will tell if this strategy works, but I’m a firm believer that this site is at least more useful to the audience it attracts in relation to the first design.

What Can You Do To Help Your Site?

Step back and ask yourself: who does my website speak to? Was my site built purely for informational purposes? Is it a site showing off your skills, beating your chest like a gorilla while yelling “this is what my company does!”?

Put your products and services off to the side for once and focus on your buyers. I’ll use an example from the book I discussed above: if you’re a college designing a website, think about who you would want to communicate with and what are your goals from those discussions would be. You’d want to focus on five groups of audiences: prospective students in high school, the parents of prospective students, current students, recent alumni, and finally, older alumni.

Let’s take the first two personas above and my alma mater Georgia Tech as an example. As a proud Yellow Jacket, I know that Georgia Tech is a great school and has some excellent traditions. However, if I wanted to talk to a prospective student in high school, and then talk to their parents with the intention of turning them on to the school, I cannot talk to them from an alumni perspective. I must address the concerns of the students, talk in their tone, and understand their issues. Does the school have a good social scene, does the school provide the foundation that I personally need for a career path, etc. If I’m talking to a prospective student’s parent, my discussion and tone would be different. Parents want to know if their child will be safe, how much the school costs, why a degree from Georgia Tech is better than a degree from another school, etc.

It sounds simple, but it’s so easy to push aside. Next time you build a site, connect with, engage, and talk to your audience. Learn about your audience, find out what they seek information on your website, and give them what they want.  You’ll be happy you did.

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