It’s an easy mistake to make.
You publish your shiny new website. You wait for the orders to flood in. Then… nothing happens.
It can be really frustrating, especially if you’re a new business.
But why is this? Your website looks great. Your friends and family all agree it looks amazing. But that doesn’t seem to cut any ice with the people who really matter — your customers.
So what is the solution? How do you turn things around without breaking the bank?
All you need to do is to focus on three basic functions: prospect, convert and grow.
It’s that simple. Let’s examine them in more detail.
All we mean here is that you can attract visitors to your website. Sure, you need to put in some effort, but it is not difficult.
I have analysed thousands of websites and I see the same mistakes. Fix these and you are halfway there.
The most common is the wrong choice of keywords. Once you’ve chosen the best keywords for your business, you need to include them in the metatags, in the URLs, in the text links between pages and in the text of your website itself.
Also, set up a blog. The evidence is overwhelming — websites with a blog do better than those that don’t. Why? Google loves content.
You’re getting a steady stream of visitors. But you’re not there to greet them.
The next best thing? Create trust. Here’s how…
Don’t say “welcome to our website”. Give them a promise. Think of your customer’s biggest need and tell them how you will address it.
But why should they believe your claims? Use customer testimonials to sell for you. If you ask for them you’ll be surprised.
Add live chat to your site and you’ll be amazed. It’s fast, it’s instant and it gets results.
Offer something for free. Remember your promise to solve the biggest need of your customers? Create a report that solves that issue. Offer it in return for their contact details and you can follow up with them. This can be automated very easily.
People rarely make their minds up instantly, but they now see you as an expert and you are pushing at an open door.
Now you either have a customer or someone who is on your emailing list. Now you can build that relationship with them.
Remember your blog? This is where you can develop that long-term relationship with them. Keep them up-to-date with developments by email and regular correspondence and you will reap the rewards.
Many people get disillusioned with online marketing but it is a vital part of being in business these days. The important point is to think about the purpose of your website and just repeat these three words to stay on track: Prospect, convert, grow.
There is no doubt about it, the unrelenting rise of the smartphone and tablet cannot be ignored. Your customers are constantly on the go and being able to access their life in the palm of their hand makes it all a bit easier.
But does your website do the same for them? Have you tried to undertake your main customer website activities on a smartphone or tablet? Was it as easy as on a desktop device?
For many businesses, the answer is simply “no”.
A recent article by eMarketer indicated that in 2012 the global smartphone audience surpassed the one billion mark and will reach 1.75 billion in 2014 and continue to rise.
By 2017, smartphone penetration among mobile phone users globally is likely to be approximately 50%. Recent Deloitte research stated that the number of smartphone users in the UK has reached 72% — that means that seven out of ten of your customers may be viewing your website on a smartphone.
Will they like what they see? And how do you know whether mobile customers are important to your business?
If you look at your Google Analytics data you will see the constant rise of your mobile device visitor (you do check your GA reports, don’t you?). I’m certainly seeing this pattern across the website stats for many of my clients. Some business sectors are seeing larger shifts to mobile device visitors than others but I can assure you that every business is seeing these percentages on the up.
If you have a website that has a transactional element to it — so your user needs to complete a purchase or a task, like registration or sign up — then I think you need to consider developing a responsive design website. This is the gold standard in mobile web and means that no matter what device is used to access your site it will shrink and adjust how it displays content, making the user experience easy and enjoyable.
If yours is a brochure-style website, you can probably get away with what you have for the moment. However, I would highly recommend you test it on tablets and smartphone devices to see how it renders and if it is still usable. I have seen some absolute shockers in terms of what can happen to your beautiful website when viewed on a smartphone! If it’s unusable for your customer you are risking losing out on business.
I would recommend a responsive design website as a minimum and then consider if any part of your customer journey is suitable for translating into an app. Apps have many advantages — generally they do not need an internet connection, the user interface can be streamlined, and you can focus the customer on the task in hand.
But be careful not to get drawn into developing an app simply for the sake of it. You don’t necessarily need one, they’re not cheap (around £5,000 upwards) and they have ongoing development costs, so it isn’t a one-off investment.
As with all marketing tools, it depends on your target audience. Find out first how your customers behave online — are they increasingly accessing your site via their mobile devices. This should drive your decision to develop a more mobile/tablet-friendly online presence to aid website conversion and sales growth.
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.