Your website is the bread and butter of your strategic communications efforts
Oh, how I love the smell of fresh-baked, homemade bread wafting through my home. It beckons my family to emerge from their caves and partake of the warm goodness. It encourages conversation and coaxes out smiles. Just a hint of this fragrance calms minds and evokes warm, happy memories. Even after making countless loaves of bread, the whole process remains mystical to me. Those beautiful, caramel-colored loaves are truly a work of art.
How baking bread is like effective website management
Now that you’re good and hungry, you’re probably wondering why in the world I’m likening bread baking to website management. It’s simple really; it’s about creating a memorable, inviting, and emotionally engaging experience.
Freshly baked bread engages multiple senses, making it universally evocative. That malty, yeasty aroma grabs us like a magic spell, leading us right to a beautiful golden-crusted loaf cooling on the counter. It beckons you to touch its warm, flaky crust and spongy-soft honeycomb center. And then there’s the sound as the serrated knife slices through the crusty loaf into densely packed bubbles of yeasty pockets. You slather on sweet, creamy butter and drizzle on thick, caramel-colored honey. Finally, you take that long-anticipated bite and experience a culminating flavor explosion in your mouth.
Now, with that visual in mind, do your communication efforts engage in this way? Because they can. Once you recognize the value of your website and use it in conjunction with your social media, you can begin to make your customers’ experiences much more memorable. So continuing with our bread-baking analogy, let’s talk about how you can engage your audience. You know, hit them in the gut where they’ll really feel it (pun intended).
Grinding the Grain
First and foremost, you need to start with quality ingredients. You wouldn’t use stale, rancid ingredients and then expect a mouth-watering outcome, so don’t accept any less from your communications efforts. Make sure your website content and social media posts are fresh.
Provide current, accurate, and engaging information. How up-to-date is the information on your website? Is it accurate? Have things changed while your website hasn’t? Is the copywriting interesting or just regurgitated facts filled with incomprehensible jargon that only someone who is already an expert in your line of business would understand?
Your focus should be on the needs of your customers. That means providing answers to their questions and alleviating their concerns. And you won’t know what those concerns are unless you understand the wants and needs of the customer persona you want to target.
One way to begin gathering those quality ingredients is to conduct surveys from past customers. Use their feedback to do some serious self-evaluation of your image and identify your real and perceived weaknesses.
Mixing the dough
Kneading (or mixing) the dough creates a network of weblike gluten strands that expand and cause the bread to rise in response to the carbon dioxide produced as the yeast ferments. To implement effective website management and build a strong communications strategy, you must also develop a network. You’ve got to dig in and do the kneading. And when done well, you’ll see a rise in loyalty and an increase in trust from your customers. Over time, you’ll see the benefits of your hard work.
Creating a network includes using a deliberate communication strategy that supports your goals and mission. Integrate your social media efforts with your website content, your media relationships, and your marketing efforts. Every post, story, press release, video, and website update should support your communication efforts and company mission. Nothing is haphazard. Everything has a purpose.
I know, you’re thinking that sounds a whole lot easier than it really is. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. Can you link a news article to your post? Can you ask your clients to share your post on their social media channels? These simple things can help you develop your network and give your online community a reason to visit your website.
Letting it rise
This is the stage in both breadmaking and website management that requires patience and an awareness of your environment. For the magic to happen—the bread/your reputation to rise—you knead (see what I did there?) to recognize that it doesn’t happen instantly. If you expect it to, you’ll be disappointed.
You can’t just post an interesting blog post or story on your website and expect that you’ll suddenly enjoy increased leads. This is a consistent and deliberate communications effort. Make sure that you and your staff are customer service oriented, be willing to listen to feedback, and then make ongoing improvements based on that feedback.
This stage requires a long-term plan and patience. It means being aware of your surroundings. It’s the laws of nature; if the room is too cold, the bread just won’t rise. Things a little hot and hectic? You’ll kill the yeast and potentially create a toxic company culture.
Baking the loaf
When baking bread, timing matters. If you put the rising bread in the oven too soon, it won’t rise evenly, and the crumb (the soft part of the bread) becomes dense and heavy. Leave it out too long, and the bread might fall during baking, plus, the crumb will be uneven and a bit fermented.
In website management, it is also about the timing. If you don’t keep the information flow steady and appropriate, you become an unreliable source. It only takes one or two visits to your website for potential customers to decide if they will turn to you as a resource.
Transparency is another process that affects the long-term success of all your communication efforts. You’ll build trust by responding to questions from your public on social media and addressing concerns or questions in-depth on your website.
Enjoying the fruit of your labors
Whew! We got through all the hard work, strategic planning, and consistent follow-through. But don’t you dare quit now! You’re about to see your efforts pay off in more ways than one.
A home filled with the sweet-smelling fragrance of wholesome bread just waiting for you to tear off and devour a thick, warm chunk is a tangible benefit of our baking effort. And since we’ve carried this analogy to extreme tummy-rumbling lengths, slather some sweet cream butter on your bread, and let’s talk about the benefits of a well-managed website.
If you’ve followed our blogs about the stages of managing your website, you can already see the gradual benefits from your reliable communications efforts. You’ll build trust and confidence and strengthen your reputation with the information and stories you share on your website and social media channels.
People respect and appreciate transparency. When you make mistakes, which is bound to happen occasionally, be honest, apologize, and let your customers know what you are changing to avoid future mistakes. If I’m being honest, this is an aspect of communication that most of us try to avoid, but avoidance does much more harm than sincere honesty provides.
Don’t forget to take the time to recognize and show your appreciation for the people who make your product possible or your service better. Give kudos to the employees who support your goals and who demonstrate the customer mindset you have modeled. Let them know you see them and recognize their contributions.
Here’s a quick rundown of the steps we recommend to manage your website:
- Gather data from your customers. (What needs do they expect you to fulfill? What do they value most? What challenges can you solve for them?)
- Establish your annual communication goals. (Tie your goals to your company mission.)
- Evaluate your current website. (Is the navigation intuitive? Is your website mobile-friendly? Is it current? Is the overall tone friendly and inviting? Is it informative and engaging?)
- Develop a protocol to ensure your website is always current. (Create a timeline for new blog articles or to update images.)
- Schedule frequent website updates. (Schedule daily or weekly content updates to keep the website current, accurate, and engaging. Maintain a friendly, consistent tone.)
- Coordinate social media posts with website content. (Integrate your social media channels with articles and news on your website to drive customers to the more detailed, informative, and inviting website information.)
- Schedule regular website checks. Look for and fix broken links, layout errors, outdated content, website accessibility compliance issues, spelling and grammar errors, etc.)
- Recognize, reward, and repeat. (Recognize and reward your team members for their contributions. You’ll keep them motivated!)
Successful website management can be summed up in two words: good communication. Put your website to good use—it’s your most valuable resource for improving customer service, marketing, and public relations. Then watch and enjoy the many rewards that strategic communication brings.
If your company needs website management services, Biz Webmasters specializes in just that—and we have for over 16 years! Let us help you manage your website and social media. Contact us today to learn more, or request a quote and we’ll contact you!