If you’re a Small Business Owner, chances are you completely underestimate the value of your website. The truth is, most have one simply because “everybody else has one.” So companies tend to go with the flow and follow the herd. Unfortunately, with this mindset, what most people wind up with is an over-priced “online brochure.” You know, a basic website where they can send people to get more information. Have you been a victim of this trap? It’s quite common actually. But if you did, then just know that you are making a big mistake (and that you can fix it.) What most people fail to realize is that their website can be used as a tool to increase sales directly or indirectly through lead generation strategies.
Direct vs. Indirect
A direct increase is easy to explain. Think of an ecommerce store. Most store owners don’t know a single thing about increasing their conversions. However, if they were to make it easier for a user to navigate their website through user experience improvements, they could easily increase their sales. A few ways to go about this includes:
- Making the checkout process easy. (Think 1-click payment features on sites such as Ebay.)
- Create an “add to cart” button that stands out.
- Develop exit pop-ups that warn users that they are leaving your website with products in their cart.
Indirect is a little more complicated though, but the same psychological tactics apply. Let’s take for example, a craft beer company, who approached Chicago web design company, The Deep End requesting a simple website that would make them look more “professional.” Although this client wasn’t selling his products on the internet, he knew just how important it was to have a good web presence. When he initiated contact with the agency, he almost fell for the “brochure-website” trap as well. But luckily, they explained to him how he could use his website as a lead generation tool that could collect useful information of all the people that were interested in buying his products. Upon having this info, he could then create a strategic and highly targeted email marketing campaign. At the same time, he could also run Facebook ads to drive traffic to his website and bring in more sales for his company.
Do You Want Looks or Do You Want Results?
Another trap business owners fall into ois failing to realize who their website is for. The most successful ones out there are built with the customer in mind and not based upon what the company thinks is trendy. At the moment, we are going through a huge shift in how websites are designed and built. When people first started using the web, it was a big creativity contest. Everybody wanted their website to look cool. And we get it. Who wouldn’t want something “flashy” and “modern” for their business? But what people failed to realize is: why? Why do I want this? Better yet, why do I need this? What’s the point of having a jazzy website if at the end of the day, it doesn’t connect with your audience and increase your company’s profits? We have reached the highest peaks of creativity in web design. If you can dream it, someone can do it. But today, a web developers biggest challenge is to create something that not only looks good, but is user-friendly and conversion-driven too. There needs to be balance between both looks and results.
The Art of Analyzing
When building a new website for a client, we take them on a process of discovery. This is crucial if we want to understand the deep, underlying cause of why they need a website, as opposed to relying on their “stated needs.” There are many areas to cut through during this process such as:
- What are the companies goals?
- Who is their target audience?
- Who are their major competitors?
- What’s the competition doing that the client isn’t?
This all-encompassing process can last anywhere from three to four sessions, but the feedback gained from it is worth every day spent. A true web development and design professional will ask you similar questions. His job is to see if the solution you need is truly related to what you asked for. The reason for this process, is that more often than not, what a client thinks is necessary, is often just a symptom of a much bigger problem. I recently had an interior design client who said his biggest need was to be able to put more pictures on his website. The conversation went a little something like this:
Me: “Why do you want to put more pictures on your website?”
Client: “Because we want to showcase each new job we did.”
Me: “Why is that important to you?”
Client: “ Because clients want to see what we can do for them before they hire us.”
Me: “So essentially, your goal is actually to bring in more customers, am I correct?”
Get what I’m saying? The real problem isn’t the pictures, it’s making more people contact and hire their services. Once we have established what the true goal of the company is, we can build a plan around that. In the end, we did develop a system where they can easily upload new photos, but at the same time, we also employed a few additional tweaks to increase leads, and offered incentives for those that came on the site, so that they could eventually turn into real, paying customers.
What Is Your Goal?
The biggest challenge business owners face is trying to setup a different goal for their website and their business. To get the most out of your website, you should explain your business goals to your web designer. A good one should be able to take this piece of information, along with other relevant details of your business, and develop a website and marketing plan that is designed to help you achieve your goals. In almost all cases, businesses strive to achieve one thing: more sales. Those days of “online brochure” websites are gone. Today, there are numerous ways to transform your business website from a “simple source of info” to a “sales machine.” At the end of the day, it comes down to what you wish to achieve.