On a recent interview with the Entrepreneur’s Podcast Network, I was asked the following questions about websites:
Why do companies create websites?
Most business owners develop websites because that’s what their competitors are doing, but don’t necessarily take it a step back to fully understand the intention behind their site.
There are five different types of websites:
1) Brochure site: this is a typical website that most businesses use because it’s safe. It supports the sales team, provides contact information and locations and it supports your brand image.
*If you want to do more for your business, consider one of the other four types:
2) Publication site: publishes original or curated information like a newspaper or magazine. Sites like this include EPN, CNN.com, YouTube, Oprah.com and blogging websites.
3) Online store: just like the name implies, sites like eBay, Amazon and Etsy.
4) Consultative site: designed to support a long sales cycle typically found in a business to business transaction. The service or product tends to be complex or expensive, requires multiple people involved in the decision to buy and requires a consultative selling style that is dictated by your prospects, not your sales team.
5) Online service: are web-based applications or mobile apps that were once software discs that we purchased in a store or downloaded. These are cloud based services that customers typically pay a subscription fee for, and customers utilize through their internet browser instead of their Windows Start menu of software applications. An example of an online service is cloud based accounting provided by FreshBooks.
What is the most frequent question that you get asked about websites?
One thing that lots of business owners struggle with is what to put on their website. They are excited about the design, their logo and the pictures. Then when it comes to content, they completely stall out. They are essentially speechless.
I believe that one of the main reasons behind this is because they haven’t completed the foundational work of creating their market niche. If they don’t already know their core business, then they stumble upon who their ideal customer is. If it’s not one, or the other, it’s both.
For example, if you’re a dentist creating a website and you want to attract more families to your practice, then you need to target women specifically because they make the majority of the health care decisions in a typical household and if they have young children, they’re generally between in the ages of 30 and 50.
If you’re planning to put photos of 22 year old blond haired and blue eyed models on your website, then you’re completely ignoring your ideal customers and your message will be lost on them. Get real with your images and use images of real families and talk about why you’re a great practice for families like extended evening hours, video games for kids and in-chair tv entertainment. That’s the kind of stuff that speaks to what they’re looking for, not content that talks about how fabulous you are, how much time you spend on continuing education and where you went to school. That information in okay in your bio if people really want to get to know you before they come in, but your first impressions need to focus on your ideal patients and how you can help them.
This translates to all businesses as well. Always be mindful of who your ideal customer is and communicate as though you’re talking to them directly. Take the time to share your expertise instead of “selling” to your visitors. It has been clinically proven that doing so will create more sales than traditional salesy content. This makes it easier and more fluid to create content as well when you are simply sharing what you know and how you can help. Be reassuring and helpful, that is always the best strategy.
Once someone has finished their website, what should they do?
Lots of businesses publish their website and think of it as a project well done and completed. They think that it can be left alone for a few years until it needs to be polished and redesigned to keep up with trends. And this makes sense for businesses that want a simple brochure website to show customers what they do and perhaps display a portfolio.
If your website falls into the other categories, then your website is essentially like a brochure you’ve created that you’ve now left sitting on a table in the back room without anyone to see it.
It’s essential to work with a marketer to stay current and attract new customers to your site consistently.
What is the biggest mistake people make with websites?
During the website design process, lots of people make the mistake of focusing on the design of the site and not the core function of the site. The main focus is to attract more and more of your ideal customers, not just to look pretty.
The mistake people make is excluding proper keyword research beforehand. Keyword research lays the foundation for the sitemap of the website, and helps develop a framework for the content that needs to be created. Keyword research is essentially pin pointed market research so you know exactly what your ideal customers are typing into their internet browser to find your business. For example, if you owned an indoor playground and focused all of your content around play parks, this would be detrimental to your business. According to keyword research, what parents are looking for is indoor playgrounds and they would not find your business in their organic search results if you don’t mention this key phrase on your site.
Overall, it’s important to know that your website is much more than just design. There is a lot of thought behind the scenes of a great website if it’s done strategically.