Combine On-Site & Off-Site Factors for Online Success

January 15, 2015

For some business owners, especially those who may have recently shelled out a large chunk of change on a top-notch website, it can be hard to understand why they now need to invest even more money into marketing and promoting their shiny new site. Conversely, businesses with creative, well-developed online advertising strategies may be drawing a blank as to why all of their hard work isn’t translating into more leads or sales.

To understand how both on-site and off-site factors interact and ultimately determine the outcome of your digital marketing efforts, it can help to think of things in a more “traditional” business sense. In this article, we’ll discuss how focusing only on on-site or off-site factors can have a negative impact on your digital marketing success.

Focusing only on on-site factors (aka ‘Your Showroom’)

Imagine that you are the proud owner of ACE Furniture, a fictional furniture retail store that just invested a significant amount of money into building a state-of-the-art showroom. You threw yourself into this showroom project, sparing no expense and maxing every resource you had in the quest to build the greatest showroom in the history of furniture retail. And boy does it look awesome!

Plush mattresses spin atop rotating platforms, beckoning customers to lay on them. Reclining couches and leather love seats are flawlessly staged around wooden coffee tables and ornate entertainment centers. You’ve built the Taj Mahal of furniture showrooms. When customers walk into this palace of fine furniture, there’s no way they’re leaving without a new memory foam mattress, or at least an ottoman!

Problem is, nobody is walking in. There isn’t even an occasional passerby outside. In fact, besides you and a couple of employees, your expensive new showroom is basically a ghost town instead of the sales machine you thought it would be.

Replace ‘showroom’ with ‘website,’ and we run into some of the same exact issues facing business owners who’ve dumped a truckload of cash on a brand new website, only to completely neglect off-site factors like marketing and promotion (see below). I work with clients on a daily basis who have really impressive sites – beautiful graphics, amazing design, textbook site structure and navigation, compelling copy, strong CTAs – but they totally dropped the ball when it came to developing a plan to drive people to their wonderful new website.

Well…not quite.

This isn’t Field of Dreams. If you want see the payoff from your new website, then you need to invest equal (or in some cases, more) time and resources into planning and executing off-site strategies.

Focusing only on off-site factors (aka ‘Your Commercials’)

Using our ACE Furniture example from before, let’s assume that this time, instead of investing in a fancy new showroom, you went all-out in the promotion of your furniture store. Working with the best minds in advertising, you came up with the most creative, persuasive marketing campaign the industry has ever seen! Potential furniture shoppers are exposed to your catchy radio spots, high-end TV commercials, sophisticated online ads, and even traditional print and billboard messaging at every turn.

Bottom line – if someone is even remotely interested in buying a piece of furniture, they are only thinking about one brand – ACE Furniture. Success! Now that you have influenced the mattress-buying masses to visit your store instead of the other guys’, the sale is pretty much in the bag, right?

Well, not exactly. While you were investing all of your time and money into snappy advertising and promotional strategies, your competition was investing their’s into making a better product. People start to complain that your pillows aren’t as pillow-y as the other guys’, your comforters not nearly as comfortable. Sure, you were able to get thousands more people through your showroom doors than your competition, but what you ended up with was thousands of lost opportunities.

Ok, now let’s put this in a digital context. While I’m an online marketer by profession, and would love to work with a client who is down to throw everything including the kitchen sink into their marketing efforts, I know all too well about the dangers of doing so. Open the floodgates of traffic to a poorly-developed website with bad functionality and weak CTAs, and not only will you be disappointed with the results, but you risk damaging your brand’s image and reputation.

Putting it all together

Success in online marketing is comprised of many complex factors, but boils down to one simple concept: balance. Everything in your digital strategy needs to come together and work towards a common goal if you want to optimize your results. When one component is missing – or is the sole focus – the outcome will be marginally successful.

Rather than favoring one over the other, work toward balancing the on-site elements and overall design of your website with generating a buzz and promoting your brand off-site. Yes, this generally takes more time and effort, but the results are much more impactful than focusing on on-site or off-site factors alone.

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