When companies set out to build a successful Web site, the best place to start is always by understanding what the audience wants, experts say. After researching what services their customers expect out of a company and where those people are spending time online, marketers can determine the right message and mediums to convey it.
“If the brand has a really good understanding of their customer needs through robust customer experience research, that will tell them what aspect of the ecosystem should or should not be in place,” Karnell said. “Starting from the customer's perspective and working up is really the right approach.”
Keith Kochberg, CEO of digital agency iMarketing LTD, New York, said understanding the best ways to reach a company's audience is especially important when integrating social tools with Web design. “Folks just need to understand that the potential is in how to best apply [these tools] to their business, and not just do what the next guy's doing because that's what they read about,” he said.
Additionally, researching how an audience interacts with their brand online can help marketers personalize Web site delivery for their customers. Fishman said BGT Partners has had success building multiple versions of its clients' Web sites with past customer behavior dictating which site is prompted—a process it calls “behavioral targeting.”
“With these new technologies out there and the ability to see where people have been before they come to your site, we can really customize their experience when they get there,” she said. BGT takes customers' Web browsing and search histories and creates several audience profiles. It then builds different versions of the same Web page for each profile.
Finding these innovative solutions that tailor Web pages to capitalize on social media and Web analytics is the only way to maximize a Web site's potential, interactive experts say.
“It's not just about your site any longer,” Karnell said. “It's about the content and functionality, and the sum of all the parts together that represent your Web presence.” M