I’ve had several recent meetings that revolve around websites. One of those was even about our own website. You probably also saw my last website post which basically said that a business without a website isn’t a real business at all. Certainly, there are exceptions to this, but overall, we have come to a point in time where people expect a business to have a website. It’s the online equivalent of your brick and mortar location. But it is so much more. Your website should accomplish, at a bare minimum, these three things:
1. Explain to a potential customer what you can do for them and why you are their best choice for the goods/services you provide.
2. Give a potential customer all the information they need in order to purchase goods/services from you. This could include any number of things, such as hours, address, pricing, and/or a phone number.
3. Educate current customers. Provide them information that makes your company “sticky.” Keep them informed about new products, services, and other reasons to remain engaged with your business.
Before we go any further, take a look at your website. Is it accomplishing these three bare minimums? If it isn’t, then not only is it not beneficial to your business, but it could actually be hurting you. We’ve now reached the point where 85% of consumers turn to the Internet to research a local business before making a decision. So, if your website isn’t providing the necessary information to your potential clients, then you may never get a chance to do personally. Gone are the days when you could rely on the telephone and a personal conversation to “sell” a prospect. Now, if your website isn’t doing the selling for you, prospective customers may be rejecting you while you never even know they existed. How does that make you feel? A little black pit in your stomach? Quite frankly, it should.
A website is a 24/7 X 365 salesperson for your business. It is always consistent. It never says the wrong thing, nor has a bad day. In many (though not all) businesses, a website can singlehandedly make a sale for you. In every instance, your website can lose a sale for you. It certainly requires work, but can more than recoup whatever investment you put into it. It can be the single most important element of your company. For many, your website is the first impression they will have of your company. You can seem as big, professional, polished, and skilled as you like. You can also appear amateurish, unknowledgeable, and pathetic. Don’t believe me? Think I might be exaggerating a bit? Let’s look at an example:
Which of these companies would you call if you were in the market for a driving school?
I didn’t create those sites. They’re two websites that are representing real companies. They’re also competitors. How many people do you think are skipping over A and signing up for B? How many people do you think are doing the same to you?
Those bare minimums I mentioned earlier? I said they were bare minimums for a reason. Take another look at website A (if you can stand it). It actually has all three of those elements on the site.
1. Tell them what you do and why you’re the best choice. They’re a DMV approved provider of courses. It says so in three places on the main page alone.
2. Give them the information they need to purchase goods/services. They have two phone numbers and pricing on the main page.
3. Give current customers information and education. This is certainly harder to find, but if you dig into the site, you will find that they are attempting to do just that. They have information about other products and services deeper in the site.
So, it’s more than just putting these three items on your site and calling it a day. You also need professional design and content. But, if your website designer isn’t asking you questions about anything other than “what do you want the site to look like?” then it might be time to find a new website company. Your website is an investment. It is one of the best investments you can make in your business. Make sure you have more than a website designer – make sure you have a partner that understands what this investment can really do for your business.
P.S. Notice how “scrolling graphics straight from 1996” wasn’t on the list of requirements?