Your website is your most important marketing piece. It is the “face” of you out there in cyber space; more and more consumers are turning to the internet to do research prior to making a purchase decision (89% according to one survey). This applies even in B2B transactions (so consultants, I am talking to you too). People are going to check you out! So you need to make sure that you put your best face forward, and that the information they find in your virtual home is polished, accurate and even persuasive.
If you are reading this, I am going to assume you have not committed the most important mistake in small business: not having a website at all. And I am going to assume that you are eager to learn how to improve the website you have, avoiding three common mistakes. I am going to talk about content (my speciality). Although the look of your website is important too, nail the content and your graphics become far less important.
Mistake #1: Too Much Information, Too Many Choices
Your homepage is an alphabet soup of information; and it points visitors in a million different directions. If you are lost in a sea of words and calls to action, take a step back. Your homepage should accomplish three things, and three things only:
– Your home page should clearly state what your business is: how YOU uniquely solve the problems of your target consumer (make your value proposition front and centre);
– Your home page seamlessly points people to perform an action. What do you want people to do when visiting your website? Think about your sales funnel, and your website as the entry point. Where do you (ideally) want people to go from there?
– Your homepage should be persuasive. Use language that is clear and concise, but makes use of emotive and engaging words. This is language the invites a response in your reader – it grips them, tells a story, conveys your brand’s personality and incites action.
Mistake #2: Too Much Text, Not Enough Balance
We are a community of “scanners,” and speed readers because we are short on time and the world is heavy on information. And what does that mean for the way digital text needs to be formatted and presented? You need short bits of information, paragraphs that don’t run on … and on … and bullet points that break things up. Consider using different fonts to highlight the most important text (put yourself in control of what your readers take away from your site by directing the eye). And balance text with graphic appeal to make your site appealing, and not overwhelming to the reader. Studies show that people spend, on average, less than a minute on a webpage, and that the first 10 seconds are the most crucial, as this is when people decide whether they will stay or go. What do you want people to see first?
Mistake #3: Your Content is Stale
You might feel that because we live in an information saturated world, you don’t need to add to the ongoing conversations. You would be wrong! A vibrant website, that gets picked up by search engines and is visible to your target consumer, is one where content is added on a regular basis. Some people might tell you that maintaining a blog for your business, on your website, is not relevant, or that if you do you need only post sporadically. I am not one of these people (and not just because I make my living ghostwriting blog posts for small business owners). Here are the facts about getting seen on the net:
– People connect with people, not brands. Blogs allow you to showcase your personality. They also position you as an expert in your field. When you are regarded as an expert, business finds you. And it is good business, the kind of business that may allow you to raise your fees.
– People use the internet to solve problems, and to find answers to their questions. Become one of their sources and you have begun to build a trust in your brand. I HAVE purchased a product from a company because they came up in a search I did, which landed me on their blog full of amazing and free information (that answered my question).
– Search engines crawl sites when fresh content is added. Give Google a reason to crawl. Blog posts that tease apart the problems your customers are facing, and deal with the subject matter you want to be known for, creates many more ways for people to find you. Think of it as casting a web; the more fibres connecting you to Google, the more ways people can find you.
Don’t be intimidated by the process of creating your virtual home. Start with the basics, focus on the tips outlined here, and you will be well on your way.
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