When new visitors hit your website’s home page, what impression do they get? Do they understand what you offer? Do they see something that interests them? Are they intrigued enough to contact you for more information?
If you want your website to pre-qualify sales prospects and encourage your ideal prospects to do business with you, your home page has to inform, engage, even delight. And it can’t do that if you don’t understand their expectations.
So, what do they expect? Here are the two questions new web visitors ask when they land on your home page:
I came across your marketing materials a few days ago and was impressed enough to visit your website to get more information.
Wow. And I don’t necessarily mean that in a good way.
Don’t get me wrong. You’ve obviously put a lot into your startup – a lot of time, energy, thought, maybe even money. You’ve taken a big step into the often scary world of marketing your business on the Internet, and you are to be congratulated for your pluck and forward thinking. The absolute last thing I want to do is discourage you.
But while your website is very attractive aesthetically (the logo is particularly cool), I’m afraid it’s not doing you many favors from a marketing standpoint.
How can I say that? Well, consider these points:
Previously, we talked a bit about what a well-crafted website can do for your business: boost visibility and credibility, get you more referrals from colleagues and customers, even shorten the sales cycle by putting key information where prospects can easily find it. Of course, those aren’t the only reasons—you may have more, depending on your business.
So, now that you know what a great website will do for you, you’re ready to start putting it together, starting with your home page. Right?
Well, maybe not.
For a site to be truly client-attractive, it has to answer — very clearly — the basic questions for your prospects. Only then will they find your services compelling enough to give you a call.
To make sure you cover all your prospects’ questions, I’ve adapted the classic “Five W’s and an H” formula and applied it to the process of making a website into a client magnet. Over the next several months, we’ll take a look at these questions and how the answers translate into great web copy.
Remember the catchphrase of the ’92 Presidential campaign? Those four words – “It’s the economy, stupid!” – became the Democrats’ rallying cry and, many say, won Bill Clinton the Presidency.
I think about that phrase every time I visit an especially graphics-heavy website. You know the ones I’m talking about – Flash intro, pictures galore, and all the bells and whistles some hotshot programmer could squeeze onto a page.
It makes me want to scream: “It’s the content, stupid!”
You see them everywhere – on billboards, on everyone’s business cards, even on the sides of delivery vans. What are they? Website addresses! It’s almost as if you can’t do business without one.
But it’s like your mother used to tell you: just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you have to. For your website to have maximum impact, you have to be clear on what you expect it to do for your business.
Three ways your business benefits from a well-written website
While every business is unique, many use websites in similar ways. Before you engage a copywriter (like me) and a web designer to develop your business’s website, take a few
minutes to write down what you want a website to do for your business.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
A great website boosts your visibility and credibility. For a relatively small up-front investment (compared to hard-copy marketing materials or advertising), a well-designed and well-written website immediately communicates a high level of professionalism. But a cheap hack job of a website makes you look amateurish and can actually drive away business.
If you want your website to attract new business, it pays to plan your website carefully with the help of skilled professionals, including copywriters and web designers. It’s a good investment.
A great website gets you more referrals. If you’re got one or more referral sources – ideally, people in related businesses who see your target market on a regular basis – you may be reaping the benefits of high-level networking. But how accurately do they really represent your business?
Give those referral sources a comprehensive go-to place to refer serious prospects for more information (after they’ve praised you profusely, of course). Make your referral source’s job easier, and you’ll get more referral business.
A great website shortens the sales cycle. How many times have you spoken to a sales prospect and been asked, “Have you got any materials you can send me on that?”
Yes, sometimes it’s a stall tactic. But often it’s the start of the presentation phase of the sales cycle. Having work samples, white papers, testimonials, and other tangible results of your work available online keeps you from having to snail mail these materials out.
(And with postage rates going up periodically, putting up your website now will save you even more money!)
Just give those prospects a link to the relevant pages on yourwebsite. That way, you can follow up with them within a day or two while their interest is still high (and their memory hasn’t faded).
And who knows? If your website is well-written enough, maybe you’ll hear those magic words during your follow-up call: “When can you start?”
Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list of benefits from a great website. And you’ll no doubt come up with ideas that are unique to your own business.
But careful planning up front will help ensure your new website is a hard-working piece of your overall marketing plan, not a haphazard waste of your precious marketing dollars.
I’m a woman on a mission: I want to stamp out unclear, unproductive, “stuffy” language on business websites! And I’m doing it, one client at a time.
Take, for example, one of my clients, a real estate-related firm preparing for a new marketing push. The company was under new ownership, and one of the first things they wanted overhauled was their website.
They recognized, intuitively, that the old copy didn’t really speak to the three distinct audiences they wanted to reach. So they asked me for help.