Website Mistake 1: Your Website Lacks Clearly Defined Goals

There’s an old saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there”.

In my experience, many business websites don’t know where they’re going.

They’ve been built without any clearly defined goals. So they end up just sitting there doing nothing, adding no value to the business. Or worse, slowly eroding hard-earned brand equity.

Business websites are often created on the reasoning, “We’ve gotta have a website because everyone else has one.” Or worse, many business owners regard a website as a kind of marketing silver bullet. They think that by simply putting a site on the web they’ll be deluged with sales enquiries. Unfortunately it ain’t so.

The first and most important step for every website is to establish what you want to achieve i.e. set your goals. Realistic and achievable goals for a website fall into the following categories:

Generate customer enquiries and sales leads – This is the holy grail for most small-to-medium businesses. They hope to get prospective customers to call or email them, or sign up for a newsletter, ebook, etc.

E-commerce – Making sales directly from your website.

Customer service – You can often serve your customers better by providing customer service online. This can range from FAQs on common customer queries to a 24/7 online help desk.

Building brand equity – People now expect every reputable business to have a website. And they expect the same respect, responsiveness and customer service on the web as they receive from other touch points. A website can have a powerful effect on customers’ brand perception.

Process automation – You can cut costs by automating processes online e.g. online billing, data gathering, delivering information and human resources procedures.

One, or a combination, of these goals should be the primary focus of your website. Once you’ve selected your goals you can develop strategies to achieve them.

Things to do

  • Commit to setting a measurable goal for your website.
  • Map out your entire sales and after-sales process. Consider how your website may be able to add value at each step.

This post is part 2 of the series Your Website Sucks!

Your Website is a Work in Progress

A friend of mine had a job selling ad space for a local newspaper. He once sold a tiny ad to a delicatessen owner in a suburban shopping mall.

The deli man put on extra staff the day the ad came out to cope with all the extra customers… who never showed.

It may have been because the ad was a dud. But it’s more likely that one tiny ad simply isn’t enough to build sales.

The deli man didn’t know what all successful marketers know. As Jay Conrad Levinson so clearly explained in Guerrilla Marketing, “marketing is a process and not an event”.

Many business owners I talk have an “event” mindset when it comes to the web. They believe a website is a marketing silver bullet. They think all they have to do is get the site on the Web and the phone will start ringing and the orders pouring in. Unfortunately that rarely happens.

Getting the site built is just the beginning. You need to generate targeted traffic by search engine optimisation and/or marketing and offline promotion, you need to ensure you provide the right information to convert that traffic, you need to ensure you have sufficient functionality to satisfy customer needs, and you need to track performance and ROI.

Some prospects aren’t ready to buy right now or need warming up before they’ll convert. So you may need some stay-in-touch marketing, such as e-newsletters, email mini-courses, and downloadable reports or white papers. And you’ll need to update the content from time to time to keep the site looking fresh.

Your website is not an event. Think of it as a work in progress. Consider how your website can benefit your organisation over the long run. Make a wish list of the things you’d have on your ideal website. You may not have the resources or budget to do them all now, but you can build your site up over time.

Review your site’s content regularly. Ask for customer input and feedback on your site. What do people like/dislike? What would they like to see on your website? Fine tune your site to incorporate the best features of competitors’ sites and other sites you like.

If you do this your site will be more successful than the vast majority of business sites on the web. Slowly but surely you’ll transform your do-nothing site into a revenue generating asset.

How to Write a Better “Contact Us” Page

“One of the hardest-working but most underrated pages of any website is the ‘Contact Us’ page,” writes Monte Enbysk in a recent article on the Microsoft Office Live Small Business website.

I couldn’t agree more. Your contact page should be more than a just a recitation of your contact details. It should explain how people can contact your business as well as why they should want to contact you.

The article covers 11 tips on how to make your contact page more effective, including:

List a snail mail address

Especially if you want to appear as a more “legitimate” business or want to attract customers from the local area.

If relevant, link to your blog or social-networking site page

These days people also want to contact you through social networking channels too.

Guide people on why they should contact you

Where appropriate, include links to your products or services pages, customer service or technical support, your newsletter sign-up page, and/or your FAQ page.

Read the article here: Tips for an Effective Contact Us Page

A Publishing Approach with a Marketing Orientation

Recently I was talking with a client about some fresh content I was writing for his website. He asked me about seeing some “concepts” and maybe even some “storyboards”. Thinking about it later I realised he was talking the language of advertising. I wondered if he viewed each new piece of content as a mini ad.

My philosophy on websites is to take a publishing approach with a marketing orientation. A publishing approach in terms of creating and managing the content and a marketing orientation for the substance of the content.

Perhaps I am blinkered by my background which is in marketing and publishing. But I am not alone in my beliefs. In a recent article for RainToday.com, David Meerman Scott wrote: “The best websites are designed by marketers who have learned to think more like successful publishers.”

A 6-Step Process for Writing Blog Posts

If you’re like me, you’re never short of ideas for blog posts. Hell, I must get at least three a day! It’s actually converting the idea into well-written posts that’s the tough bit.

If you have the same problem, Men With Pens have come to rescue with a recent blog post:The 6-Step Process to Turn Ideas into Blog Posts

This simple process works every time, taking you from a spark of inspiration to published post with the minimum of stress and effort. If you’re having trouble keeping your blog posts flowing, you should give it a try!