Company Culture & Goals
Who is your target market? Who do you intend on serving with your website? Any good business has researched and understands their target market. However, online this might vary from the traditional offline persona. In fact, part of your website's goal may be catering to your employees.
Nailing down who is the target audience of your website is just as important to its success as is defining your offline market.
What are your goals for your business? Short term & long term. Break out your business plan and make sure it is up to date. These goals should be defined by continual progress driving forward your overall mission. They should be specific and measurable, and realistic.
How does your Internet presence fit in with those goals? How can it help move them along and further your cause? Once your short and long term goals are defined, consider where your online identity fits in with it. They are not separate identities and should not be moving you toward separate goals. Everything that your business does online should be designed to fit in with the current business plan.
How do you want to portray your company culture and values online? How will you define your Internet identity? Businesses are different from one another. They take on characteristics and personality traits of the people that work for and run them. This makes the culture of the business unique and valuable. Your online presence should reflect that. Your business culture, all of the characteristics and personality traits that make it unique, should be visible in your online identity.
Serving the Audience
What do you want to provide for your target audience? Laying out your online offerings ahead of time promotes focus. It helps prevent you from dabbling in areas which are not beneficial to your overall goals. Consider which audiences you are serving and define what you want to provide for them. What services, resources, and communication offerings will you give to your target market?
If there is an area of your website for your employees, what will it do for them? Will you allow them to clock in and out, log tasks, and communicate via your website? Will it serve them with resources and training?
How will your target audience find your website? How can you encourage this? Search engines are a huge driving force of the Internet. Will they be the primary way through which you will promote your online presence?
Once on the site, where should they go and what should they be doing? If your website serves different target audiences, it can sometimes get confusing where the visitors should be going. Likely, the different audiences will be lead to different locations on the website. Ensure that they can get where they need to be easily.
Business Resources Available
Have you quantified the available resources for your online presence? Being successful online is not free. It takes a considerable investment of time and money. If you normally cater to a local market, you might have a handful of competitors. Online, you likely have dozens or even hundreds. Without the available resources, the investment you do make might be wasted.
How much money can you invest? Immediately, monthly, annually. The investment required is not a one time deal. Budget out how much money you want to invest on a monthly and annual basis. If you are getting online for the first time, or making a measurable step forward, calculate how much you have available to spend on this more immediate action.
How much time and man power can you invest? Immediately, daily, weekly, monthly, annually. In order to properly portray your online identity, you will need investment from within your company. Outside consultants and agencies can help, but they are just that - outsiders. Do you personally have time to oversee operations? Will an employee be in charge of tasks?
How much can you invest in training your employees? Your employees should reflect the values of your business, but they also are individuals. Your business should invest in training to ensure they know how to portray your company in a good light, and in etiquette for online interactions while in the workplace.
How will you invest your resources? Hire trained employees? Hire and train employees? Train current employees (and give them the time necessary to do the extra tasks)? Hire outside consultants to advise you? Hire outside agency to perform the work?
How can you best maximize your available resources? Consider your employees and their skills and expertise. It might benefit you to keep things in-house and give extra responsibilities to willing employees. If you plan on this, prepare to provide them the appropriate resources. This might be training material, schooling, or conferences.
In what Areas Will Your Business Invest?
Website design and development
Search engine optimization
Integrating Your Strategies
How can you drive your online presence through other mediums? Consider where you currently invest your efforts -TV advertisements, billboards, mail campaigns, etc. How can you change these to boost your Internet persona?