If you get your website right you will win more business — that’s the reality of promoting and selling pretty much anything today.
That’s all well and good I hear you say, but exactly how do you go about creating the right website — one that really works for your business?
Having worked on over one hundred web projects for service firms in the past few years, here are the top ten things we’ve learned. I hope they give you some ideas if, like us, you are redoing your own site in the coming year.
If you want a successful website, you’ll need put as much time and effort into planning it as your designer spends on building it. Great design has never mattered more but don’t launch straight into it.
By hiring a web designer or developer with a strong digital presence — someone who creates great content for their own business — you can be sure that they understand how to get your site right.
If you want to create a site that really engages prospective clients look at what you do from the outside in. See your business through their eyes by asking your clients for feedback.
Your story is a golden thread that runs through all your content and illuminates what you do. Get this right and the rest of the content will flow. Hiut Denim’s website, the super-strong message from Finisterre and B2B firm Desynit are all great examples.
Good websites are also packed with helpful and inspiring content. In fact, when it comes to the helpful stuff vs. sales information, try following the 80/20 rule of content.
Effective websites equip the visitor with the information they need at every step of the sales process — from browsing and researching to just about to buy. Think through what your buyers need throughout the journey to becoming a loyal client.
It’s neat to be niche when it comes to the web. Whether you focus on one or many niches, the trick is to serve up relevant content that meets the needs of each sector.
Your website is plugged into a much wider lead generation and lead nurturing system. It’s linked to the social web, to your growing email subscriber list, to your contact database, to smart analytics. Marketing automation is becoming more important — it can improve the visitor’s experience, help you power and manage relationships and measure the results.
If you’re creating a new website, make sure its design is responsive, so that it is easily viewable and useable on any device. With the rise of mobile the power of visual content has never been greater so don’t forget to include video content.
A website is a platform to build on, not an end in itself. Be clear on your content strategy, create a publishing plan for the months ahead and keep adding and sharing great content if you want to get found and loved. It takes time to build up that head of steam when it comes to driving leads from the web but hold firm. If you follow these tips and continue to add value, results will come.
The business case for having a good website packed with valuable content is very strong. Many people now realise that 60% of a sale happens before clients get in touch (or don’t — as the case may be). Your website plays an increasingly important part in the path to new business.
But it’s often sheer embarrassment that finally flicks the switch between “we really must get round to doing something about our website” to “we need to do it NOW”.
Worse than driving away potential leads (who we’ll never meet and can therefore ignore), a poor website makes it difficult to look our best amongst people we respect and want to do business with.
Having an embarrassing website is like having a really messy house. You just don’t want to bring people back there. Ring any bells?
Here are six signs that you’re embarrassed by your website:
If this sounds like your website, then it’s time to take action.
Are you doing enough to attract people to your website?
Are you using the right keywords and phrases? Are you active on social media channels? Do you have a blog? Have you tried pay-per-click advertising? Are you sending out an email newsletter? If you answer yes to most of these, then you can pat yourself on the back. But why — when you look at the analytics — do you find that visitors are taking one look at your website and leaving again?
Your website is your online calling card — it is the hub of all of your marketing activity. It is the place that you are driving everyone to in the hopes of converting interested browsers into loyal buyers. But is it up to the job?
Here are eight ways that your website could be putting people off:
Do a “we” and “you” count on your website. Is your copy all about you? It’s time to change the focus — tell your audience what you can do for them. Show that you understand their needs and can solve their problems. And make sure this is crystal clear on your home page.
Many businesses use the About Us pages to write a potted history of the company. Stop living in the past and refocus your content on what you do in the here and now. Describe what you offer clearly, show how you can help and make it relevant to your audience today.
If you run an ecommerce website, work out how many stages someone has to go through to buy from you — and then try and reduce them. Do they have to register first? Is that really necessary? Make sure you offer automatic address look-up options — they speed things up and improve accuracy.
Slow-loading website pages are a massive turn-off. All the research shows that faster speeds lead to more business, it’s as simple as that.
If you’ve got a news or blog page, you must keep it up to date and fresh. If someone arrives on a page and the most recent post is several months old, it looks unprofessional and it could even suggest that you may have gone out of business.
The great thing about a website is that it can provide all the information that your customers needs in one place. So when they make contact, they’ve done their research and are often ready to buy. I was researching hotels online recently and one website was asking customers to email them if they wanted a copy of the latest menu! That is absolutely daft. It’s vital that your website provides the information your customers need so they get the reassurance that will prompt them to make the next move.
It’s tempting to brag about your achievements on your website. But instead of blowing your own trumpet too much, let your customers do the talking. Testimonials and case studies are a great way of demonstrating your credentials and proving that you are the right people to do business with. Without that third-party endorsement, you’re expecting new customers to take you on trust.
More and more of us are doing our searching online via our smart phones. If your site doesn’t look good on a mobile phone — and especially if it’s hard to use — you are alienating a growing number of potential customers.
Freelancers can extend the reach of your business. A one-man business can be transformed into a full service agency with a liberal dose of freelance goodness. Let's take a quick look at how you can get the most from your freelancers and avoid problems.
Here are eight tips for making your interactions with freelancers profitable, fruitful and happy:
Tell them what you LIKE about their work more than you tell them what you don't like about their work. However confident and assured your freelancer is, they'll still love to hear what you like about their work.
It's better to guide people with praise than with criticism. Lead them towards what you love by telling them what you like. Quietly make it clear what you don't like, but tread carefully over their ego. The fastest way to demotivate your freelancer is with unmitigated criticism. And creative people don't create very well when their ego is struggling to recover from your hard knocks.
If you pay them substandard rates, they'll do substandard work. If they're too expensive, find another freelancer. You might think that haggling over the cost of work is a clever trick, but you inevitably reduce the quality of the work you receive. Not so clever after all.
If you want perfect work from your freelancer, make sure their understanding of your needs is as solid as yours. Without a clear brief, how can you complain if they get it wrong?
Freelancers are poor. Send them money. If you delay payments to freelancers their children will starve, their partners will go naked and their pets will die in agony.
Don't hire a designer and then tell them how to design stuff. You are not a designer. And if you are a designer, do the work yourself and stop wasting freelancers' time. Resist the urge to meddle in your freelancer's output. Have faith in their expertise. After all, it's what they do every day, for many varied clients.
Be considerate of your freelancer's time. A freelancer's time is their only product. Wasting their time is like stealing. Would you steal a CD? No. Would you rob a bank? No. So don't waste a freelancer's time.
As much as you should listen to your freelancer and heed their advice, remember that you know more about your industry and your business than they do. So teach them. Share your knowledge and help them produce better work.
The folks behind the Marketing Donut idea threw down the gauntlet the moment they arrived for the first project meeting at Nameless HQ (home to a lovely bunch of creative peeps that make up Nameless digital creative agency) armed with an enormous bag of doughnuts. Our challenge? To design and develop an upbeat, engaging, accessible and genuinely useful website for BHP’s Marketing Donut site, along with creating a strong, original brand identity for the Donut series… all without licking our lips! The question is, had BHP Information Solutions underestimated our sheer willpower? In particular that of Nameless' chief crayon boy. For the past few months the tiny grains of sugar encrusted on our upper lips have been provoking our tongues to defy our stubborn determination. Not ones to give into temptation… knowing full well the earth will rebel… safe in the wide open arms of hell (sorry, lost in a brief Crowded House moment), we were all thrilled – actually Adam was ever so slightly relieved (apparently doughnut sugar is a bit like a beard - after a while it starts to itch) – to launch the absolutely stonking Marketing Donut site last month and have an instant and much-appreciated sugar rush!