6 Essentials for Effective Websites
In our digital world, an effective website is a necessary part of running any business – but is your website set up to truly support your business goals? We know that prospective customers are (Google) searching for your products and services, but are you being found? And when they do find you, is it crystal clear to customers how your business can help them meet their needs? If it is straightforward, do you make it easy for visitors to take the next step and either trial or buy from you?
Your website plays several different roles, whether to support e-commerce transactions or to simply let people know where you are open for business – it is ultimately your best sales rep. Working 24/7 to make an impression, it will shape how people choose to interact with your business. Will visitors stay and research further, or will they bounce (i.e. navigate away from your website) because it’s irrelevant to solving their search questions or their experience is uninspiring and problematic? Let's make sure your website is also properly set up to rank on google and generates leads -- even while you sleep!
In designing your website it’s important to avoid what Donald Miller calls “the curse of knowledge” -- where we express our expertise in jargon that talks over people’s heads and ends up creating confusion and frustration. Remember that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. That’s why your home page is the most important page on your website. If your home page fails to immediately connect with visitors, or they don’t know what to do once they arrive on your home page, their natural reaction will be to bounce (i.e. leave your site). From an analytics standpoint, a high bounce rate on your home page is an indicator that something’s wrong and it may be time to consider re-designing your site with the following essential elements for effective websites:
While some visitors are still researching your business, asking themselves questions like: "am I in the right place?", "is this site credible and trustworthy?", "is this a professional and stable company?", or "does this site make me feel welcome?" -- others may be ready and motivated to take action. This is why it's important to create a clear call-to-action or CTA on your website that is designed to help convert a motivated visitor from a prospective customer into a buyer.
Best practice is to create an obvious, simple button which is located above the fold (top right or left of website), and in a vibrant colour that encourages visitors to perform a specific action relevant to your core business. See Willy's Digging example below where "GET A QUOTE" is an obvious CTA in bold blue, positioned in highly visible location on the home page.
2. PRODUCT & SERVICE
If you have exceptional products and services, customers will surely find you and buy what you offer - right? That could very well be, but realistically for most categories and industries there is huge competition online as well as in stores. So how do you stand out when there is so much clutter online? The answer my friends, is keywords!
Having long tail keywords in your meta description and H1 tags -- ones that are specific, highly relevant to your business, and speaks to what your ideal customers are "googling" will help to differentiate your business. Keywords make it easier for visitors to find you as well as to decide right away if you have want they want or can help them. For example: Willy's meta description below shows keywords in bold:
Willy's Digging team specializes in tree, root & rock removal; digging holes for pools, preparation for landscaping & general dig-ups in North Vancouver.
3. CONTACT INFO
It may sound obvious, but you'd be surprised how some websites still miss the mark on this necessary element. If visitors want to contact you and are forced to dig around just to call, email or find you on Google maps -- you've created a negative user experience, and likely lost a sale!
Especially if you have a storefront or physical location and rely on people coming in to your business or office, make sure you've properly claimed Google My Business and that your address, postal code, phone number and other relevant contact information is set up according to how it's being searched. Let customers find you easily, and even add your active social media links so customers can continue to engage with your business. If you need help to set up your social media marketing, check out our how-to tips!
4. ENGAGING CONTENT
Before people decide to get hitched, first they usually get engaged. The same principle holds true in starting a relationship with your business. Consumers like to date first (i.e. shop around) to see who provides the best solutions and value, and if what you offer is not attractive or impressive -- why would they take the next step and buy your products or services?
While it is important for your keywords and content to be purposeful, authoritative and SEO friendly, it is equally critical to have engaging content when they arrive on your website and home page. Design your images, videos, and blogs to clearly and creatively present what you do or provide, thus encouraging visitors to dig deeper so they ultimately choose your business over competitors.
5. LEAD GENERATOR
In order for your business to grow, finding new leads and converting them into sales is a top priority. But unless you have a sales force that focuses on consistent cold calling, generating qualified leads can be very time consuming. Fortunately, your website can easily be transformed to collect leads 24/7 and used to nurture relationships with prospective customers.
We know that most consumers today research online but they may not be quite ready to hit the "Buy Now" CTA button yet. While they are in the consideration stage of buying and are "warm" to your business, it's an ideal time to offer something of value -- i.e. sign up for a special offer, expert tips, or download a checklist. Your offer must be worthwhile and significant enough that they are motivated to provide their email and contact information to your business. Most website templates include built-in Forms that collect leads to grow your email list, or you can choose integrated inbound marketing solutions such as Hubspot.
6. MOBILE FRIENDLY
Last but not least, your website must be responsive. With many consumers using smart phones and tablets as their primary research tool, being considerate of their preferences creates a win-win experience for your business.
Note also that Google penalizes websites that are not mobile friendly. So make sure you design your website templates to be responsive across platforms.
Now that you understand the essentials elements for effective websites, download the Website Essentials checklist and make some simple, yet powerful adjustments.