Today, a website is a fundamental requirement for every business. The process of planning, designing, and building a website is a critical step in establishing and launching a brand, yet website building is often fraught with problems caused by common misconceptions, misinformation, dangerous shortcuts, and poor guidance.
While no one thinks it will ever happen to them, even the most careful and savvy business owners fall victim to potential threats that sabotage their website’s success from day one.
Luckily, with the right mindset about your small business website, the right approach to creating your site, and the right website strategy to gain conversions, you can create a powerful website that works when you’re not working.
When you’re beginning to think about building a new website, the first step is getting in the right frame of mind so you avoid these three common website fallacies:
1. My website must look and be cool.
When beginning a new website building project, many business owners are concerned with one thing: looking cool. They want to look legit and cool to their industry and competitors, they want to feel cool, and they want other people to think they are cool. When this need for ultimate coolness is combined with an inexperienced designer’s need to create something cool and “cutting edge” for their portfolio, you end up with a site that is set up to fail.
- First, your competitors aren’t going to buy from you or hire you and neither are your designer’s competitors.
- Second, your website might be selling your services or products, but it’s not about you and what you want. Your website must be about your potential client or customer and what they want.
- Third, you know what feels cooler than an awesome website? An awesome website that actually works to build your list, create new opportunities, and make money.
This isn’t high school. Customers don’t care if you’ve got the most cutting-edge technology integrated into your site or the slickest design. They don’t care if your website won a design award or if you love it, and you shouldn’t either. Customers care about finding the information they need quickly and easily and getting the help they need. You need to care that it attracts the right prospects, resonates with them, helps them, and guides them to take action.
2. It’s smart to hire a friend or relative to design my website on the cheap.
I get it. Hiring a designer or developer with years of experience and wisdom to design your website can be expensive. This is especially true when you hire a professional who doesn’t just make a pretty website, but researches, plans and strategizes the entire conversion process and site flow before even beginning the design.
I also understand that hiring a professional designer or developer also means that your project is more than likely going to take a little longer to get to market. They aren’t going to be OK with banging out something mediocre just to get it done. Instead, they’ll insist that you think through all of the fine details so your site delivers results from day one and can grow and evolve with you as you grow and evolve.
So trust me when I say that I see why so many people get sucked in by the excitement and savings of going the fast and cheap route.
But here’s the problem with the fast and cheap route, with hiring a friend or relative to just get it done: You’re skipping the critical step of the website building process that makes all the conversion magic happen.
In this case, you do get what you pay for. Going the cheap and fast route most often means you’ll be working hard to drive traffic your site and market your business, but you won’t see the conversions, sales, and results you were hoping for. As a result, you’ll continue to dump money into your site, hiring various people who promise they can “fix your funnel,” and you’ll end up with a site that’s a hodgepodge of different ideas and visions, instead of a streamlined conversion machine. And guess what happens then? You have to start over and spend more money to create a smarter, more strategic website that does work.
3. My website is an online brochure to show people I exist.
Yes, in 2016, we still get phone calls and inquiries from people who just want a brochure website to prove that they exist if someone searches for their company online. And, if I’m being totally honest, a brochure website is all you need if you are happy with where you’re at, staying with the status quo, and not interested in growing.
But, if you’re investing in a website, I’m going to bet that you’re doing so because you want to grow your business, make more sales, increase opportunities, and expand your brand visibility. If this is the case, a brochure-style, static website isn’t going to cut it.
In today’s highly competitive, digital landscape, the market is crowded, noisy, and full of people all hawking their wares online and jockeying for position. To compete effectively and carve out your own space online, your website needs to more than a brochure, it needs to be a living, growing, changing entity. It needs compelling content and interesting images, clean and professional design, a laser focused message, a natural path to conversion, and regular, ongoing, new content added to keep your audience coming back again and again.
Customers don’t buy when you want them to buy, they buy when they are ready to buy — and it’s your job to make sure your website is in front of them when they decide they’re ready.
The Right Approach To Building A Powerful Small Business Website That Works When You’re Not Working
When beginning a new website building project, the very first thing you need to understand is the job your website need to do. Yes, your website has a job, it’s like a silent employee, working for you 24/7/365, who knows everything about your business, expands your sales, positions you as an expert, and does the things you need to get done without being asked.
It must attract the right customers.
While the design must reinforce and enhance your brand, position you as an expert, and build your credibility, your website’s sole focus must be on attracting the right prospects to the site and serving your ideal clients and target market.
It must be optimized for people and search engines.
From the way it is built to the content that is written, every aspect of your site must be optimized not just for search engines, but for real people. This will boost your chances of being found online by those who need what you offer, help ensure visitors connect with your message, and persuade them to take action before moving on.
It must be easy to use.
Your website design should facilitate, not frustrate. It must support the content, clearly communicate the message, bring attention to the calls-to-action, and naturally guide visitors toward a conversion. Ultimately, visiting and clicking through your website needs to be a positive, enjoyable experience.
It must help you stand out (in a good way).
Your website needs to ensure that you are remembered, respected and referred. It should help visitors remember you and your message, and connect with you and stay in touch with you. It should help you expand your brand visibility and gain momentum and respect for your talents and skills. And, as a result, it should open new doors and lead to new sales by increasing referrals.
The Right Website Strategy
Whether it’s to purchase, sign up, subscribe, enroll, register, click, comment, enter or join, every website, and even every individual web page, has a conversion objective.
As all website visitors don’t enter your site from the home page, a crystal clear, comprehensive website strategy outlines the paths to conversion from multiple entry points on the website. It maps out how visitors move through the site, what information they need during their buying process, how they find and consume the information they need, and how they are guided to the next logical step, and eventually to taking action.
Know, like, trust, conversion.
Today, the web is littered with mediocre free offers, email opt-in boxes making promises that don’t deliver, and products, programs and courses that are more hype than value. As inboxes are filling with spam from companies they did not give permission to, consumers are becoming more picky than ever about who they give their email addresses and money to. Before they even think about taking action on your website, they first need to get to know you, see if they like you, figure out if they trust you, and only then will they decide to take the next step.
To ensure your website works when you’re not working, you need four types of content:
- “Know” content. Content designed to help people get to know you and learn more about you, your brand, and your background, what you do and how you do it, who you serve and why, and what results you get. It answers the What’s In It For Me? question.
- “Like” content. Content designed to help visitors see who you are, what you stand for, what you have to say, and whether or not they like you. This content offers glimpses into your personal life, showcases your personality, and shares your opinions.
- “Trust” content. Content that is decimated to building credibility, reliability, and trust by positioning yourself as an expert, providing value and quality content, and showing a history of proven results. The goal of this content is to make it a no-brainer to hire you, buy from you, or join your list because they trust you and believe in you.
- “Conversion” content. Content dedicated to persuading visitors to take a specific action and convert new visitors into clients, customers, or subscribers that you can continue to market to, sell to, and work with in the future.
When you implement the Know, Like, Trust, Conversion approach on your website, you’ll notice:
- Your ideal clients will self-select themselves right into your best-fit services, products and programs.
- Sales with be made with more ease, and your sales cycle will be shortened.
- New business leads and referrals will increase.
Multiple Paths To The Money Content
Another critical website strategy that will have your website working for you while you sleep is creating multiple paths through your site to reach your money content — the pages that are part of your core sales funnel. Linking to your core web pages in the main website navigation menu isn’t enough.
In addition to the primary menu links, you also need to link to the Money Pages throughout the rest of your website:
- Different people will connect with different types of content and areas of content on your site.
- Some people will simply click through your navigation menu from left to right, some will scan/read the page first and click a link that sounds interesting, some may look at what’s in the sidebar or footer and find a link they like there.
- Not everyone will enter your site from the Home page, some will enter through direct links, blog posts, or landing pages.
- Have a link to the next logical step in the conversion journey readily available when they are ready to move on. Don’t make them scroll to the top of the page, or click elsewhere.
Only giving visitors one way to browse your content and reach your important web pages is a recipe for failure because every visitor isn’t the same. Instead give them multiple ways to reach the desired conversion, so they can choose the path that is best for them.
Eliminate Unnecessary Distractions
I love WordPress because it puts website owners in total control of their website. I also sometimes hate WordPress because it puts website owners in total control of their website. Let me explain. WordPress gives website owners the ability to add pretty much anything they want to their websites at any time — and most add content, badges, plugins, widgets, feeds, ads, logos and other junk to their site simply because they can. But just because you can, that doesn’t mean you should.
Without a crystal-clear website strategy in place, it’s easy to add stuff willy-nilly to your site because a friend added it to their site, you think it’s cool, or you read a blog post that said you should.
Here’s the problem: You only should ad something to your website because it adds value, improves the experience, or increases conversions.
This means that most of the content found in website sidebars and footers shouldn’t be there, and in most cases, is actually hurting website conversions by sending visitors away from the site and distracting them from taking action.
Before you add anything to your website — whether it’s in the content area, sidebars or footer — ask yourself these questions:
- Will this add value to my website?
- Will this enhance visitors’ experience on my website?
- Will this distract visitors from taking action or encourage them to leave my website?
- Will this move visitors closer to taking action?
If you already have a website full of clutter, it’s time to review each element added, ask yourself these questions, and get rid of any that result in a NO answer.
Naturally Guide Visitors To Action
With the right mindset, the right approach, and the right website strategy, you have the power to not only create a valuable, helpful, friendly website that is easy and fun to use, but a powerful, profitable website that meets its goals and delivers results on a daily basis.
When you understand the job of your website, eliminate distraction, map multiple paths to conversion, and apply the know, like, trust, conversion process to naturally guide visitors to action, you can skip the icky in-your-face marketing tactics, cheap-looking blinking arrows, threats of failure, and obnoxious call-to-action buttons.
Instead, your visitors can enjoy the natural flow of your website that has been carefully crafted to help your ideal clients self-select right into your products, programs and services without ever having to sell them. And you can enjoy a website that works when you’re not working, and an inbox and voicemail box that is full of requests from new clients ready to get started and pay you what you’re worth — and nothing feels better than that!
This article was originally written for the GoDaddy Garage.