Does your website look a little rough around the edges? Is it starting to look a little meek compared to some of the great new websites in your industry? It could be worse than you expect, it could be costing you money with lost conversions. Maybe it’s also completely lost in cyberspace, not showing up on Google and other places you’d like it to be found. If you think your website could benefit from an overhaul this article can help you put together a game plan for success.
How You Market Your Business on the Web Has to Change
If you haven’t addressed the shifts in consumer behavior with the rise of smart phones and tablets your site is likely suffering. More and more people are viewing websites on the go instead of from their desktops these days and you have to present well to them to win.
“Mobile has swiftly risen to become the leading digital platform, with total activity on smartphones and tablets accounting for an astounding 60 percent of digital media time spent in the U.S.” - Comscore
One of the fundamental flaws in many websites is directly related to the design. The styling is just poor or outdated and the lack of appeal causes visitors to doubt the site’s credibility and relevance. Often they can’t be viewed on a phone at all, causing constant resizing and shifting the view from left to right to find the simplest piece of information. The fact is that the digital world is filled with websites that all have the same problems. They simply weren’t built for today’s demands and technologies and entirely miss on their real purpose.
- They were built a really long time ago
- They were built in an ancient technology
- They were built with really poor strategy
If a modern website will solve these issues then a web strategy must be built. A website that reveals a site that was built in today’s technologies with a clear strategy towards marketing to today’s consumers on all of today’s complex viewing devices. So, what does it take to build a truly great website?
Your first step is to understand people and how they use websites. People come to a website for a reason, they’re looking for something. Here’s a clue, they’re not coming to your website to read about how great your team is and when you were founded. People don’t hopelessly plod around websites looking for who’s been around the longest or who has the biggest office. They’re on your site because they’re looking for a solution. They have a problem and they want it solved. Are you the right one to solve it for them?
They’re on your site to be educated ultimately, and served. They’re looking for something of value; your goal should be to help them find it as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Takeaway: Show them how you can solve their problems; it’s not the drill they’re looking to buy but the hole it helps them create. Ecolane is an example of a company that does this well in my opinion. Software as a service can be really boring, and even more complicated. Ecolane solved this problem by understanding their prospects and leading with solutions ahead of services
(screenshot of Ecolane, showcasing the first banner)
Second Step: Understand Your Customers Better
How are you possibly going to know what to say to your audience if you don’t know who they are? If you want the messaging and voice of your website to really speak to your ideal customer and prompt them to act you have to understand them on a much deeper level than you probably do now. You have to develop detailed buyer personas for each type of customer, understanding their tendencies, their motives, what triggers them act, and how they generally make decisions. This has to be done before you develop your website, not afterwards. When you know their triggers, you can scratch their itch. (How can design be used to implement great user experiences for each individual persona? Examples?)
Takeaway: The more you know about your customers and how they make decisions the better you can fit your solutions, voice, and messaging to their needs.
Fastrax Raceway found that their customers had distinctly different needs wanted everyone to find exactly what they were looking for as soon as they landed on their site. Large, bold secondary navigation with clean icons helps direct traffic easily and professionally.
Fasttrax Raceway's Homepage
Third Step: Create a Site Map & Wire Frame
Remember, people come to your website looking for help. Help them find what they’re looking for with ease. I shouldn’t have to click 4 times to figure out what you do, the more I click the more likely you are to lose me. By creating a wireframe for your website you can lay out the desired conversion paths for each persona.
You can stimulate each buyer’s journey throughout your home page by including resources and tools to help them educate themselves. These conversion paths (leading to landing pages with forms) will help you turn your visitors into leads and trigger additional resource delivery with the right nurturing strategy.
Takeaway: Think of your website experience as a winding road - a road that offers gifts and advice at every turn. The best websites understand their visitors, providing them what they’re looking for. M-Scribe Technologies pulled out all of the stops for their home page overhaul, including a number of conversion points while drawing valuable site resources forward to be offered with a single click. They present 2 specific awareness offers, 2 consideration offers, and several methods to convert at the bottom of the funnel. All in a vertical scroll in place of a myriad of clicks and drop downs.
Example of HubSpot COS page optimization tool
Fourth Step: Choose the Best Language to Build In
I’m not sure anyone really chooses the language they want their website built in, they usually choose an agency first. That seems backwards to me, doing it that way generally leads to getting your website built in whatever language they recommend. They generally only recommend what they have experience in. So everyone gets a WordPress site and they think it’s great because they have nothing to compare it to.
Just because choice is hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work at it. Everyone has an opinion and a preference so build your own instead of going with someone else’s (including mine). Choose your language based on what you want your website to accomplish, and how you want it to react.
M-Scribe Technologies' homepage
My Opinion: Our site is built in HubSpot’s COS and it does things that other websites simply cannot. Those things have big value to me, that’s why we have it. It’s auto-responsive to every viewing device, allows for personalized content, and is so easy to optimize for search engines it’s scary. The What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) content editor allows for easy-to-find page elements such as meta description that seem cryptic with other platforms. Once you’ve set your site up for success you can monitor it easily with a page performance tool that prioritizes errors and page alerts by impact on SEO.
(might be nice to get a screenshot from one of our client portals that shows off one of these elements, I have several shots already from page performance tool that could be cool)
Fifth Step: Develop a Strategy for Nurturing (I completely agree- but for the design blog this section may not fit).
Once you have your standard messaging in place it’s time to take things to the next level. That includes setting up personalized content and offers to present to people who return to your website after interacting with it in a previous session. By developing a SMART content strategy you’ll keep your content fresh, timely, and appropriate so your prospects can continue their education.
Instead of seeing the same content they’ve already read and considered you can show them the ‘next step’ in their journey, giving them exactly what they’re ready to learn about. By setting up email workflows you can send them golden nuggets direct to their inboxes with easy paths back to your website for more.
Takeaway: There is no such thing as a ‘bad lead’, don’t rush to write off new contacts. If someone is willing to give you their contact information for one of your offers there is value there. All leads are not created equal but none are worthless either. Western Convenience understands that building a database of contacts has real value. Because of this they worked to implement a host of low-commitment conversion paths to reward website visitors while capturing the data valuable to their future marketing plans.
Idoinspire.com mobile website
Final Thoughts: You’ll Get Out Of It What You Put Into It
You get what you pay for, as they say. If you think you can solve all of your web issues with a free template you’ll certainly have a hard time creating a remarkable website. If you hire your Brother’s Wife to design your site because she took a great online design course recently your visitors will probably sniff out your ill-conceived kindness. If your business is fantastic I suggest your represent it well with a world-class webdesign and a move to HubSpot’s COS.