Visitors are going to your website looking for answers. To connect with them, your website is the place to go for these answers, right?
You’re offering visitors a solution with a free e-book, a sample of your services, or examples of how your customers are using your product or services, still right?
OK, how about some testimonials? Satisfied customers telling about your services give you more credibility. You have these, right?
Scott Stratten, in his book Unmarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging , complains “more that half of the websites I reviewed had nothing to give, only to buy. No information to learn, the sites were simply digital brochures… Buy or good-bye.”
If your website is one of those in the “buy or good-bye” category, it’s time to turn things around. You don’t have what your potential customers are looking for – answers to their problems or questions. The result is they aren’t going to get as far reading about your product. Are you falling into this category? It’s kind of scary. Not what you intended at all!
Scott Stratten is an advocate of something you’ve probably heard before: engagement . His point is that <span > “every point of contact is a point of engagement – it either heightens the relationship or lowers it.”
And how does this idea apply to your website? When customers find your website on the Internet, that will very likely be <span > your first point of contact .
- If your website is not a resource for answers , guess they’ll just have to find their answers somewhere else.
- Without examples of how your Bluebird Widget works, guess they’ll go look for something else.
- Without learning anything about you , Mr. Business Person, how can they be persuaded to trust you enough to buy something? On to the next company on the Google listings…
According to Stephanie Cross of <span > The Marketing Zen Group of Dallas, Texas, sales only come from websites that are engaging and have numerous calls-to-action. “The push of potential customers to your website via Google searches, other website links and recommendations, ads, word of mouth, even your business card,” she continues, ” will not do you any good if the message at your website lacks interesting, current information and options to learn about your product, industry or services.”
You may not be certain how to evaluate your website for some of these factors. One is the “call-to-action.” This used to mean asking for the sale, sign on the bottom line, and give us your phone number so we can call you. Not so, these days.
Your call-to-action needs to become, “Sign up for our newsletter ,” which will contain helpful information, not a sales pitch. Another call-to-action is a sign-up for the blog . Same helpful information, no pitch. Another is a demo or free sample that visitors fill out a short form to get. These are your new call-to-action tools.
How to Get Started
Happily, there are easy ways to develop these new methods on your website. Start with the story on the front page.
Instead of the previous method of brochure sales, now we are going to tell the story in first person. Yep, “I am Joe Smith, president of Product Corp, the best darn product manufacturer in the state,” first person story telling. Tell how you got started. Turn the whole idea around until you have a personal story of who you are and what you’re selling.
Tell about, or have your employees tell about themselves. Use photos with people – you, you and the products, employees, employees and the products, a Product Corp picnic. Get real, literally.
Says Michael Stelzner, socialmediaexaminer.com and author of Launch: How to Quickly Propel your Business beyond the Competition , “You no longer need to sell! Instead, you demonstrate your expertise by the content you produce [articles], the ideas you showcase, the stories you share, and the people you attract.”
One of the best ways to showcase your ideas and demonstrate your expertise is in a website blog . You were probably afraid I was going to say that. I’ve heard many people run screaming from this job. Come on. It’s just another way to talk to your potential customers. Easy. (See ” You Have to Do a Blog ” for a step-by-step.)
Include the blog within your current site or have a link to the blog. Write new articles to keep people coming back to see what’s new or what other words of wisdom they might find. These interested visitors read and eventually sell themselves on your product and the trustworthiness of your company. No hard sell required.
According to Mike Volpe, HubSpot CMO ( hubspot.com ), websites with blogs get 55% more traffic . Obviously, these are the people who come back to see what you can tell them to solve their problems today. These are the people selling themselves on your company and you because you’re helping them solve this problem.
Volpe adds, “Inbound marketing-focused companies [as opposed to that buy-or-good-bye attitude Scott Stratten scorned] have a 61% lower cost per lead .”
Social Media Talk and Backtalk
A very effective source of information your customers use to “sell themselves,” is social media : Twitter, FaceBook , LinkedIn , YouTube and others. On these networks you’ll find people talking about what you’re selling and maybe even your company.
You’ll need to participate in this media to learn what is being said and what those potential customers need , like, and don’t like, both about the products and about companies selling those products. Let’s see how this works.
Jane tweets or FaceBook posts via her networks: Arg! My Bluebird widget just stopped working. Do you use a Bluebird widget? – Keep in mind this is going out to all of Jane’s followers/friends.
Jane receives replies from three people she knows on her network:
1) I love my Bluebird widget. You just have to call, and Bluebird will tell you what to do.
2) I like the Redwing widget. Maybe you should try one of those.
3) My Bluebird widget broke the first day I used it, and I sent it back.
Yes, these are typical of answers via a social network (sometimes within minutes). This is the conversation that’s happening all day long, every day. Do you think you should be part of it? I know I do.
You start by listening . It’s enlightening, and eventually it becomes part of your routine to check this very active online conversation every day. Not in a few days or weeks, but in a month you’ll have the hang of it. Really.
Time to Get your Ducks in a Row
The connection with customers to help them with their problems is an important goal for your website. I have shown you many situations where this works and works well. Now it’s time to make this work for you.
- List what problems you can solve for your customers with your product/service.
- Learn how your current customers are using your product and get them to tell about it.
- Publish both of the two items above on your website, your ads, newsletters, and social media.
- Stop hard selling and try to engage , offering solutions, examples, and answers.
- Write about your company, yourself, people using your products, special uses for your products in your ever-expanding blog.
- Make interesting sample materials customers can download or obtain free (after filling out a form).
If you’re still not ready for a website redesign with a blog and new point of view, try doing a rewrite on all your pages, changing everything to a client’s perspective. Eventually, you may need some help to accomplish all the steps explained here. Plan for it or just get started. Gotta start somewhere, and now is good.
When you accomplish these changes in your website, you will have a constantly changing and evolving hub of information for people to find their answers, their solutions . The changes in your website should result in more traffic and return traffic and more time spent there. Other results will be people signing up for your blog, your newsletter, your free samples or a demo. Watch for it.
All those questions we started with – a resource, free tips, new articles, satisfied customers telling their stories – will have “yes” answers – an improvement you will benefit from for years down the road. Your website is now moving down the road with you.
Sometimes my posts stir the pot creating more questions . If you have some, just type in the comment box below or email me. I’ll be glad to help you out. If this article stirred you to move along and get that website whipped into shape, doing its job, we’d love to hear about that, too. What looks to you to be the hardest part?