We divided the process as follows in our book, yet it is not unique. This process exists with many labels and is used as a best practice by many marketers!
Identify your target audience.
Always look to simplify. Your audience is not everyone, think carefully about whom you fit best.
Customer interviews are irreplaceable. Important research topics include: What characteristics distinguish your audience? What do they seek? Where do they look for information?
Interviews help describe the site’s target persona. Personas are a wonderful shorthand to help members on a web team communicate about the intended customer and user of a website. They help get the website’s audience “at the table” during discussions.
Meet your audience where they are.
Understanding your target audience includes knowing where they seek information online – search engines? Facebook? Twitter? Elsewhere? Knowing where your audience seeks information tells you how to prioritize your time.
Gain their trust.
You earn trust when you speak the language of your potential customer. Good content builds trust.
The words, images, audio, and video on your website introduce you to your audience and establish your relationship. They are both the small talk that starts a relationship and the meaning that builds one. Create content meaningful to that group.
Beyond that, social proof is important – do people like me respect this company? Are there success stories and testimonials on the website that reflect my needs?
Other markers of trust include a well-maintained and secure website. When things look poorly maintained (news or blog posts sorely out-of-date), it’s the equivalent of a shabby or even spooky storefront.
Earn their loyalty.
A happy client or a happy customer is the best recommendation. Attend to what happens next: after the sale or lead form. Follow through, follow up, and look to delight your customer. Continue to provide content that’s valuable after the initial sale. And then, gently, ask for that referral.