One Simple Way to Build a Better Website

Most businesses spend a lot of time and energy perfecting the design of their website. When I meet with business owners and marketing managers to discuss a website, the design is usually the first thing on their minds.

That’s great, I love a client who knows what they want!

It makes sense to focus on design; it’s the first thing you notice in any marketing piece, whether it’s in print or digital. But design alone will not sell your product or deliver new clients to your business.

The design is there to grab a visitor’s attention and get them to read something. Design is important, but the words are what convinces people to become clients. The words tell prospects that you understand what they want, and that you can deliver it. The words are what sells.

I know what you’re thinking: “I can add the text to my website after I’ve settled on the design.”

Yes, you can. But if you want your website to achieve its goals, then you shouldn’t.

A Better Way: Content-First Design

The vast majority of business websites are designed and coded long before the first page of content is delivered. That means the web designer has to make guesses about the content, and how much text there will be.

A good designer knows how to draw the reader’s eye, creating a visual path from the first paragraph all the way down to the call-to-action. They use images and color to reinforce the messages in the text, and create an emotional response in the reader. These are proven methods that drive sales.

But they can’t enhance the message if they don’t know what the message is!

Think of your text content as the “product” your website delivers to the visitor, and the design as the “package”. You wouldn’t design a package before you had a product, and you should not design your website before you have the content.

Do It Right, or Do it Over

Aside from the obvious benefit of driving sales and delivering clients, the content-first design method has the added bonus of saving time and money on your website project.

One reason that so many websites are completed late and over-budget is that the content, inserted after the site has been developed, doesn’t fit correctly into the design.

Often, when a designer has to guess about website content, they guess wrong. A small space that was intended for a few short sentences might actually need to hold several long paragraphs. An image that seemed perfect in the early design might look out-of-place after a headline is added.

Fixing problems like these could require major edits to the website code, delaying the project and incurring additional expense. Even worse, a well-intentioned designer may rush through these edits to meet the deadline…leaving your business with a patchwork website design that looks sloppy.

Make the Last Step the First

The best thing about content-first design is that it does not require any extra work. You can spend the same amount of time on your website content, just make it the first step in the process instead of the last.

Even better, have all of your content written and approved before you hire your website designer. They will thank you for it, and you’re likely to get a better website in less time!

Stop Losing Money on Your Website

If you’re like most business owners, there’s a good chance that you’ve overlooked an expensive problem.

It affects businesses of all sizes, across a wide range of industries. Money is being left on the table, and interested prospects are walking away. This problem should be keeping business owners awake at night, but it rarely does.

I’m talking about websites that don’t produce sales or revenue.

When someone on your sales team is underperforming, I’m sure you take steps to improve the situation. You might offer additional support or training to help them succeed. The last thing you’d do is ignore the problem.

Yet I frequently speak with owners and CEOs who casually explain that their website isn’t a source of revenue, and very few view it as a major concern.

As an online marketer and website developer, I find this shocking. Although a website can serve many purposes, its primary goal is to help your business grow! In my decade of serving businesses, I’ve discovered that the vast majority of websites are failing at this goal.

I’ve also learned that there’s a common thread among these digital disappointments, and it’s not always obvious. Many of these websites are beautifully designed, mobile-friendly and easy to use. Some enjoy top Google rankings that send them a steady stream of fresh prospects every day. So why do they fail to produce results?

Why Your Website Doesn’t Generate Revenue

Most websites don’t make sales or create revenue because they don’t focus on what the visitor needs and wants. They tell the visitor about the product, instead of telling them how the product will make their life better.

Think about this: when a visitor reaches the home page of your website, what do they see? For most businesses, it’s something like this:

Welcome to the Technology Corp Website!
If you’re looking for quality technology services, you’ve come to the right place. Technology Corp has been serving our loyal customers for over 30 years. We provide business technology services including desktop support, office phone installation and network configuration. Our knowledgeable staff provide top-notch installation services, and our customer support department is second to none.

If this is the first thing visitors see when they look at your home page, you should consider yourself lucky if they don’t leave immediately.

A prospect visits your website because they want you to do something for them. They want you to solve a problem, or satisfy a desire that they have. They don’t care how long Technology Corp has been in business; they want to know if Technology Corp can help them make more money!

Your Website is a Member of Your Sales Team

Your sales reps know what to say to prospects to turn them into customers. They succeed by establishing a personal connection, identifying the prospect’s want or need, explaining how your company will provide it, and overcoming objections. Your website should do the exact same thing!

A successful website is just like a sales rep: it needs to understand your customer and be an expert on your product. Your website can’t make eye contact and read body language, but it can use knowledge that you and your sales team have gained over the years to make a successful sale.

Making Your Website a Better Sales Rep

Think about the process of welcoming a new sales team member into the fold at your company. You might provide them with training, educate them about your product, share successful selling techniques that your team has perfected, or even have them observe your sales team in action.

You can’t train your website, but you can do the next best thing: research. You can use information that you already have to make your website more effective.

Your sales team knows who your best customers are, what they care about, and what questions they ask during the sales process. Use their expertise and knowledge when you’re creating marketing messages for your website. Make sure that your sales pages anticipate questions and address common objections.

Perhaps your company maintains a database of past and current clients. These can tell you a lot about your client base: where they live, what their position is within their own company, how frequently they buy from you, and more. This information can help you create marketing messages that are specific to common customer types.

Do your customers ever send you testimonials, gushing about how much they love your product? These can be a treasure trove of useful information for your website. Not only are testimonials themselves a great addition to your website, they also tell you what your customers care about and what words they use to describe your product.

If you see recurring themes in your testimonials, like how easy your product is to use or the great results gained from using it, incorporate these specific words and phrases into the text on your website. Chances are, those phrases will resonate with potential prospects as well.

Whats in it for Me?

When a visitor reaches the home page of your website, they want something. They might have a problem they need to solve, like a computer network that keeps crashing. You only have a few seconds to catch their attention and convince them that your business can give it to them.

The trick is, they don’t actually want your product or service, what they really want is the result! They don’t want to purchase a preventive maintenance networking package, they want their employees to be productive and make money. Your website should emphasize the benefits of choosing your product, or the measurable results it will produce.

Imagine you’re selling a car that gets great gas mileage. It may seem logical to explain the technical features of the engine that allows it to burn fuel more efficiently. But the customer isn’t interested in technology, and there’s a good chance this will confuse or bore them.

Instead, tell them how much money they will save driving your car instead of the car they already own. Back it up with a chart that shows this savings multiplied over the next five years, and you’ve got yourself a sale.

Ask For the Sale

There’s another essential component most business websites lack: a clear call-to-action. A call-to-action asks your website visitor to do something, whether it’s purchasing your product or subscribing to your newsletter.

Your call-to-action should be clear, concise and above all, easy to follow. Don’t make prospects jump through hoops to become your customer. A confused visitor will leave your website in less than a New York minute.

Give clear instructions on how to take the next step, whether it’s picking up the phone or clicking a “Buy Now” button. If necessary, streamline your process to eliminate obstacles that will confuse or deter potential customers.

Is Your Website an Advantage, or a Liability?

No matter how much you spend on your website, or how many visitors it gets, if the content doesn’t resonate with your customers it won’t help your business grow.

More and more commerce is being conducted on the web, and with every year that passes the trend accelerates. It’s no longer enough to simply have a website. To grow and build for the future, your business needs to understand how to sell on the web.

Businesses that focus on building a customer-focused website have an opportunity to gain new customers in an area that their competitors may be ignoring. I hope that your business will be one of them!

Top Ten Things a Website Can Do for Your Business

A modern website is much more than just an online brochure. In addition to attracting new visitors and prospects, an effective website provides content that is informative or entertaining, building trust and strengthening brand. It engages the user with interactive features, social connectivity, and powerful marketing messages.

A professional website can generate sales leads and turn a prospect into a customer, accepting payment, sending follow-up emails and generating paperwork and sales reports automatically. Finally, it provides a satisfying experience for users whether they are viewing the site on a desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile device.

A website can:

1. Find new customers.

With 58% of US adults using the Web to research products and services before they buy, your business cannot afford to have a weak Internet presence. Your Website puts your business in front of thousands of potential new customers right when they need you.

2. Generate sales leads.

Your Website may be the first point of contact for many new customers. By providing communication options like phone numbers, email and online response forms, your Website can deliver warm leads straight to your salespeople.

3. Establish brand awareness and confidence.

A quality Website lets prospects know that your business is reliable and dedicated to their needs. Providing information and customer service options makes customers feel more confident about choosing your business.

4. Collect information about your customers, and get permission to contact them.

Visitors to your Website can opt-in to receive promotional offers through direct mail or email, making it a valuable tool for all of your marketing efforts.

5. Inform your customers about new products or promotions.

With more businesses and consumers researching their purchases online, every Website needs up-to-date information about products and services to compete effectively. Frequently updated promotions and special offers keeps customers informed and gives them a reason to visit your Website often.

6. Sell products, process payments and generate invoices.

A modern Ecommerce Website is like a storefront that is always open. Even while you sleep, your Ecommerce Website can receive online orders, process payments and generate invoices. This can be a great time-saver for your staff as well as your customers.

7. Help track results from print, Web and TV advertising.

Providing a unique, trackable website address in your offline marketing pieces can help you to measure response rates and interest in your offer. Visits to Website pages are easy to track, and the information can help to improve your marketing message and offer.

8. Accept customer feedback.

Communicating with customers and getting their opinion of your service is critical to maintaining customer satisfaction. An online feedback form or discussion board makes it easy to keep in touch with what your customers think of you. This can be a vital tool for your business.

9. Expedite paperwork.

Paperwork can be an unpleasant hassle for your employees and your customers. Make it easy on both of them: provide documents on your Website so they can be printed and completed in advance. Now, the completed forms can be submitted online or brought into your office ready for processing, saving time and frustration for everyone.

10. Generate Publicity.

Regular updates, such as blog posts like this one, can create conversations about your business and encourage people to share your website with friends and social media followers.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg: websites provide the versatility to create features specifically targeted at your industry. An experienced online marketer can translate your business goals into marketing messages, interactive features, and targeted content that will engage your customers.