Recently I’ve read several threads regarding businesses websites and “what should I do?” or “what’s wrong with my website?” They questions are all based on a variation of the same theme.
I do not want to pick on any one business as it would be unfair and if you have recently asked this question I’m not singling you out, but I want to address this continuous repetition of questions like.
“Does anyone know a good website designer”, “What should I do with my website?” or “can someone take a look at my website and give me some feedback…”
OK, well here is the truth about questions like this, and I give it because it feels like a total pitch for work whenever I give my reply and it really isn’t.
A website is not a magic spell, silver bullet or “one size fits all” answer to your marketing. It cannot replace a good strategy, decent tactics, flawless execution, great layout, superb copy, value packed images, and compelling calls to action. Not forgetting to track and measure the responses you get so you can tweak, polish and improve your entire funnel end to end.
If you do not have a focused reason for EVERY page and a good structure that guides people around the site then forget it. If you homepage doesn’t tell people in a short concise block of information what it is you do and why they should do business with you, FORGET IT.
One More Time, Here Are The Basics
Your website is JUST like a flyer or a sales letter, or a bunch of them, all built round a theme. If the page doesn’t have a headline, a value packed image and copy that really sells with a dynamic call to action then why is anyone going to respond to it?
Now… here’s the hardest part and it really pains we to say it, if you cannot do that stuff then TOUGH.
Sorry but if that feels harsh then don’t shoot the messenger, I am just telling you the hard facts that if your site sucks no one tells you (hence the title of my book! more here (Print Edition goo.gl/miuc1z and Kindle Edition goo.gl/WexYdN). If your website flat out is not answering a need, delivering a benefit and packed with value the you just won’t get any response, apathy is the enemy of bad marketing not hatred or love – at least you’ll have provoked a reaction.
If you are not doing the basics of direct marketing, then what are you doing with a website? What is the purpose of having a website? If you do not know WHY your website exists then how can you use iit to find new prospects and guide people into your business.
Employing “website designer” does not mean “ABDICATING RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR MARKETING”. When you go to the doctor do you just let him guess what is wrong? Do you help him? Do you give him feedback?
Website Designers are Not Marketers
The difference with a designer is, and this might be a big frickin’ NEWSFLASH, they are NOT MARKETERS (not all of them anyways) they make pretty, the do nice looking and if they are good it helps the overall campaign BUT THEY DO NOT HAVE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR MARKETING GOALS. You are the guardian of the marketing aims and it is your responsibility to make sure the website is likely to work for whatever it is you are selling.
If you have ever seen a newspaper you will already know what layout will work.
SCREAMING HEADLINE – defining the reason to read the rest of the page.
VALUE PACKED, INTRIGUING IMAGE (Click it to play video – yay Websites!)
INTRO PARA – summarises the whole “story”
BODY COPY – tells the story, guiding the user through their pain and the resolution.
CALL TO ACTION – a compelling reason to act NOW!
SECONDARY CALL TO ACTION – in case the first is not quite on the money.
Then end the page or blog post with feedback channels – sign up forms, comment boxes or last but by no means least Social media.
Sad to say 95% of websites online will only ever be a money sink for their owners. They ignore best practice, fail technical elements and all manner of simple things which prevent them getting a response.
You owe your business the very best marketing you can afford, and it is an INVESTMENT not a cost, or expense, it should repay you time and time again. Not just be a cost that you never recoup, otherwise your business is not a growing asset, and you are just wasting money. Go out and do something different, you’ll never start to grow a successful business (small or otherwise) if you cannot invest money and apply your strategy to leverage that investment and make the money put in come back with profit.
Doesn’t matter how good/bad/shocking/free your current website is – it’s gonna get worse…
Google have started to implement “HTTPS Everywhere.” Read this brief article here
Simply put: sites with HTTPS encryption will, assuming all other things are equal, rank higher. This will be an affect that is only going to be dialled up and up, until your old HTTP site just falls off the search results.
Then pretty much say goodbye to your website ranking and watch as your traffic drops off a cliff, and I am talking to everyone reading this… Why? Because, in one of the BIGGEST shake ups on the net in 20 years, Google will eventually move to secure search results only.
HTTPS:// will be the de-facto hosting requirement. August will mark the one year anniversary of the introduction of “HTTPS Everywhere”. If you still have HTTP after this then watch as the competition who have opted for secure servers slowly, inextricably start to wipe the floor with you.
Just like mobile on the 21st April (just gone) anyone still not with a mobile/responsive website is now sliding down the mobile search results with increasing rapidity.
Help Google, Help Yourself
Google REALLY CARE about the security and safety of people online, and they REALLY REALLY CARE about the quality of the search results they provide BECAUSE THEIR REVENUE DEPENDS UPON IT.
Why should they care about your website, your business or you if you are not prepared to do the bare minimum to make sure your website looks good on a small screen, is secure has decent content (and not just screaming sales content) but genuinely useful and good content that helps your target audience.
On our website we have ONE page that sells, some help people understand what we do and guides them to get in touch, but ONE page has pricing on it and you know what? Every lead we get from our site knows our pricing.
You DO NOT have to make every single page a sales pitch, in fact if you want to move people from “Like” to “Trust” then stop with the selling and start with the helping. Give, give and give some more and get trust, once you have trust then AND ONLY THEN is the time for the conversion and the sales pitch when people are READY to hear it.
OK, I feel like I’ve ranted enough! But please, please, please can you consider what you are about to write before you say…
“What’s My website…” or “Anyone know a web designer???” Google is packed full of them, do a search and stick a pin in your monitor! None of them will improve your marketing if it fails to meet the barest minimum standard but they may make what you’re marketing look pa darn sight prettier.
What most people want is Web Marketing Strategist, but they don’t want to pay for it, or pay “just for advice” (a comment we had last week)…
So up to you… but perleazzzze can we move the conversation on? I’m not saying don’t ask but ask specific questions, strategic questions, questions about what you can do to improve conversion or response rates.
Not just “My website needs a makeover, can anyone suggest someone?”
The answer is YES! of course we all can… but you don’t get a Ferrari for Mini money.
Here endeth the lesson…