We are long past the days of brochure sites, with nothing but photos and text about your business. These days, if your website isn’t doing real work for you, it’s just not earning its keep. Here are six critical things your website should be doing for your business:
- Build Your Brand – Your brand is what your business stands for in the minds of your customers and prospects. You influence what your customers and prospects think about you by how you look, how you sound, how you act. And by you, I mean you, your employees, your office or building, and your website. Your website should look modern and professional (most of the time; Ye Olde Milkshake Shoppe can get away with looking retro). It should be consistent with your corporate style guide for colors, logos, images, and messages. It should have a company domain name, or as close as you can get. (See The Hunt for a Unique Domain Name for my thoughts on domain name challenges.) It should be easy to work with. All of these things help to influence your customers to think and feel about you the way you hope they will.
- Communicate Your Thing – There are a lot of “marketing speak” ways to say this—clear position statement, unique selling proposition, unique value proposition, features and benefits. In non-“marketing speak”, I simply mean that your website should clearly and quickly communicate what it is you do for your customers and what is unique or at least noteworthy about how you do it. The first part is usually easy: You sell shoes, you refurbish swimming pools, you rent snowboards, you promote bicycle races. The second part requires a bit more thought to find your sustainable differentiation from your competitors: price, speed, location, industry specialization, service. Make sure your website communicates both of these things clearly and prominently.
- Generate Leads – This is where a workhorse site begins to stand apart from a brochure site. Does your site regularly turn site visitors into leads, which are simply prospects whose contact information you have. How do you get that contact information? Some of the best tools for generating leads on your site are making your phone number and, if you’re a brick and mortar operation, your address easy to find, having a simple contact form, placing compelling calls to action throughout your site graphics and text, and offering things of value such as estimates, case studies, and how to articles in exchange for your prospects’ contact info.
- Make Sales – The next step up from a site that generates leads is a site that actually makes sales. It’s not always possible, especially for long sales cycle products or services that are high ticket or complex. In most cases, though, your website can actually generate revenue for you through sales of products, sales of downloadable e-books or white papers, subscriptions to services, ticket sales, or online booking, for example.
- Reduce Administrative Tasks – Every task that you can make your website do is one less task that you or your employees have to do. And in many cases, your website is more efficient than your human workforce. Three easy ideas are for your site to gather lead info through a subscription form and store it in your email campaign system, send automated reminders and even discount promotions for abandoned e-commerce shopping carts, and the mundane reduction of nonproductive phone calls (“Where are you located?” “What are your hours?” “Do you carry X?”).
- Protect You – With all the focus on visual impact and lead generation, site security can be an easy thing to overlook. But with the internet awash with hackers, spammers, and fraudsters, you’ll reduce annoyances and protect against much worse if you make sure your website is built using modern coding technologies and practices, is hosted on a secure server, has regularly scheduled backups, and uses spam filtering or even CAPTCHAs on forms.
If you’re not sure your website is doing all that it can for your business, give me a call for a complimentary website checkup.