Is your website hurting you or helping you?
If you’re not sure, you’re not alone.
Maybe most of your leads come in through referral.
Did the prospect also go look at your website? Almost definitely YES.
Are you using your website to its fullest potential? Almost definitely NOT.
That’s actually pretty normal. Websites and online marketing offer so much opportunity, that this feeling of “not doing enough marketing with our websites” has become part of our existential angst.
Websites allow you to do more with less
When you put your website in the center of your marketing efforts, you get marketing results that are measurable and repeatable. You can pinpoint any point of failure.
Even when you are doing outbound offline marketing in the form of direct mail, phone calls and events, when you incorporate the web into these efforts, you are going to see better results from the same level of effort. The beauty of websites is that they are affordable, easy to change and can make a dramatic impact on your business success.
With that in mind, rather than just passively reading this article, I encourage you to take this very portable magazine with you as you walk over to your computer and bring up your website.
Look at your website with fresh eyes
Whether you get most of your business through referrals or through online marketing, your website is often the first impression people have of your company. With your website open, grade your website on the following factors.
Give yourself a score of 1-10 with 10 being the highest.
At first glance, how does your website make you feel? Proud? Embarrassed? Bored?
When you compare your website to your main competitors, do you seem to be as much of an expert as they are?
Do you sound personable? Is your language clear, addressing your client’s needs (rather than your solutions)?
Are there 2 or 3 clear paths for visitors to follow to get more information?
Do you seem credible and trustworthy? Do you offer social proof using case studies, quotes and metrics?
Did you score a PERFECT 50/50 – 100%?
As our own worst critics, achieving a perfect score is probably unachievable.
But if you scored less than 35, it may be worth investing some time and money into improving your website. Don’t tell yourself it’s no big deal and that you manage to get clients anyway.
Improving your website can help you get more ideal clients with a lower cost of sale.
The software and services you sell are invisible, so you are being judged closely by what people can see – your office, your website, your business card, your people. When you do it right, changing your website can create a dramatic difference in your overall results.
Thinking of re-developing your website?
My number one piece of advice when starting a website project would be to make sure you will be able to edit your own website when the project is complete (even if you choose not to).
Website best practices and people’s tastes for “what looks good” changes constantly. You should be continually adding events, blog posts, pictures, case studies. Keep your website fresh!
Personally, I advocate for using WordPress as your website platform. WordPress runs over 20% of websites today. Today’s WordPress themes are all mobile responsive. Plug-ins can add almost any functionality you need and the software is naturally search-engine friendly. However, if you don’t want to use WordPress, there are plenty of good content management system options. Just make sure that once built, you can edit your website yourself without a website developer.
My Top 10 Marketing Tips for Websites
Whether you are designing a new website or just making changes to your existing website, these 10 things will make the biggest difference in user experience.
1. Create a strong hero image on your home page.
A hero image is a big, bold image or video that takes up most of the space on your home page “above the fold” giving visitors a strong first impression of your website. Layer a strong message on top and add a call to action and your site becomes instantly more attractive.
2. Provide 3 options for where to go next.
Underneath your hero image, add three boxes that feature your three main selling points or three areas of domain expertise. This will allow people to quickly find the information they are looking for.
3. Make your font size and line spacing bigger
The average website font size today is 16pt. As you increase the font size, also increase the line spacing. This quick fix immediately modernizes your website.
4. Add more pictures and video
Break up those huge text blocks. Website visitors no longer expect to only see professionally produced videos. Do a quick screen share and show your readers an easy tip or tutorial. Keep videos as short as possible. When it comes to pictures, take them yourself or hire a professional photographer when possible. Overused stock photo images can make you look phony, which ends up hurting your brand instead of helping it.
5. Get rid of old news
Do you have old events or old products that continue to live on your website? Get rid of it! If you have frequent events and webinars, part of your event checklist should include what to do with those pages once the event is over.
6. Add new content
If you aren’t adding content on a regular basis, do it now! For my Microsoft clients, I regularly say that looking out of sync with Microsoft’s marketing can make you look outdated. Plus, you are missing out on the millions of dollars that Microsoft is sending to generate awareness and leads.
7. Make content “YOU” centric
Write in a first-person voice rather than a third-person voice, meaning instead of saying “the company” say “we.” Instead of saying “manufacturing industry executives” say “you.” Most of your website content should be focused around your customers’ problems. Ask questions. Talk directly to the website visitor as though they are the only person you are talking to. Stay away from jargon unless they use it too. Note that to be able to do this effectively, you first need to have a clear understanding of your buyer personas, and talk about what they care about.
8. Pepper in social proof
People trust other people more than they trust sales people. You can ask for reviews on Google or recommendations on LinkedIn. If someone writes you a glowing email, ask if you can use it in print. Spend time and money developing case studies. Get specific about the results you’ve helped clients achieved. “Reducing downtime by 25.8%” is far more powerful than “improving efficiency.”
9. Add offers to every page
A page without an offer is a dead-end road. What do you want people to do after reading this page? Guide them in that direction. The best website offers to grow your marketing list are called lead magnets. Lead magnets are given away for free, but have enough perceived value that someone will give you their email in exchange for your offer. Good examples of lead magnets are checklists, video tutorials, eBooks and white papers. These offers create no extra work on your end, and serve to fill your marketing funnels with people who may then be interested in “consideration” stage offers like webinars and demos.
10. Make your content easily shareable
Website plug-in tools like AddThis and ShareThis make it easy for visitors to share content they like. You can embed quoteable content using ClicktoTweet. Create a form to allow people to subscribe to your blog content by email.
Finally, remember that when it comes to website development, there is no final version. Launch now and adjust later. For the good and bad of it, your website should always a work in progress, something that needs to be maintained on a regular basis like payroll and cleaning out email vs. a “one-and-done”-effort. Once your website has been built and you are generally satisfied with it, keep it up-to-date by blocking out a set period of time every week to focus on improving your website. Over time, the transformation can be amazing!