Updated: Jul 2
Building a website, or even working with a supplier to build it, can often feel overwhelming. I know, I've sat in your seat and worked with suppliers to build several over the last 15 years.
I learned some lessons along the way and I've distilled them into these 5 steps to keep at the back of your mind when you're updating your website, or building one from scratch.
Step 1 – Get the layout of your website right
Whether searching on mobile, tablet or desktop, when a potential customer lands on your website, they are probably going to scroll a few times to see if they are in the right place.
Close your eyes for a minute and imagine walking into a retail shop.. you walk in, you ask yourself “does this feel like the type of place that sells the product I’m looking for?”
Your brain actually makes a first impression before you’ve even realized it and then proceeds to validate that first impression. The human brain is clever like that, it wants to save you time and effort, so it subconsciously processes what it sees, quicker than your conscious mind can comprehend. You then seek to validate that first impression; we do that with people, places and anything else in our lives, we’re hardwired to do it.
Now that shop might have a small section at the back with the type of chinos you happen to be looking for, but if everything else in the store suggests a different style – you probably won’t go searching around and probably won’t find those chinos!
So what does that mean for you?
If someone lands on your website and you make them go searching around for what they need, or its not immediately clear that you have what they are looking for; if your website starts with your company history and your company values and your purpose – they are one click away from leaving because those things don’t matter to your client at this stage.
Its like giving someone your life history on a first date, its not going to end well!
You need to get the layout just right to invite them to look further, making it as easy as possible to understand your value proposition.
The right layout for your website will depend to some extent on your industry, product or service mix, but you should be aiming to answer these questions as a visitor scrolls down your site…
Does this company do or sell what I am looking for?
What value does this company offer and how is that different from the competition?
How should I engage with this company?
What happens if I decide to engage this company?
What do I stand to gain if I engage this company?
What is at risk if I don’t engage this company?
Has this company solved this problem or provided this product to other happy customers?
Is this company an authority or expert in relation to the solution I’m looking for?
You should also include videos or images that compliment these messages. What you shouldn’t do however, is create long paragraphs to answer these questions. You must keep it concise and avoid the curse of knowledge…
this is something we all suffer from, we’re so engrossed in our own business that when we talk about what we do, we over-complicate it.
You are the expert in your business or product, and you’re likely talking at an 8 out of 10 on the complexity scale when you describe what you do. You need to be talking at a 2 or 3 out of 10 for customers who have never heard of you, or you risk causing confusion and losing them.
Bonus tip: If you’d like to make your content look more compelling, check out www.designrr.io and www.canva.com, these are great tools that your team can use to create lead generating content for your website, social media or email marketing campaigns.
Step 2 - Create a lead generator
Not everyone that lands on your website is going to be ready to engage with your sales team or make a purchase.
They may just be browsing or doing their research, so the question is - how do you capture these visitors and stay front of mind when they are ready?
This becomes increasingly important the longer your sales cycle gets. One way to do this, is to create a Lead Generator, sometimes called a lead magnet.
Lead Generators come in different forms, here’s 6 ideas to get you started:
1. Create an eBook just like this one!
Capture your expertise in an informative guide that will appeal to your audience and potential customers.
2. Expert interview
Do you have experts in your business that your clients would value insights from?
Is there a specific challenge being faced by your industry right now?
Are you connected to industry thought leaders that would be happy to be interviewed?
Capturing an interview and then offering your audience access in the form of video, or inviting people to a webinar are all great ways of generating potential leads.
3. Offer a Free trial
Give your customers an opportunity to experience your product or service at no cost and with no commitment.
4. Tips or advice list
Write down a list of the frustrations or biggest challenges facing your customers and then offer a list of tips that help overcome them. This is also great content for your social media channels
5. Scripted chatbots
These popup on your site, offering a series of choices that might be relevant to your target audience, ultimately requesting an e-mail address to share more info with.
Bonus tip – create a chatbot that also highlights your lead generating eBook and then integrate this with your lead generation software to create a seamless customer experience.
6. Build an interactive calculator or quiz
This could be an ROI or risk calculator, it could provide recommendations based on answers, as long as it provides some insight or value to your customers, they will be willing to exchange their e-mail address for the results.
When you have your Lead Generator, make it available on your website and also promote it to your target audience through email marketing, social media and your sales team.
You’ll want to look into the right lead generation software to automate this process, check out this article for insights on the marketing automation tools you might want to consider.
Bonus tip – once you’ve created your Lead generator, make sure you plan how you will stay in touch with any new contacts that it generates. This could be through an e-mail nurturing campaign or calls from your sales team for example, but it does require some thought and planning.
What you don’t want to do is offer a great piece of valuable content that your potential customers appreciate and then erode that goodwill with aggressive sales tactics.
Step 3 – Hire an SEO expert
In one sentence, SEO is a strategy that ensures when someone Googles your product or service category, they find your website.
If you can get your company onto Page 1 of Google for the right keywords, you will generate significantly more relevant leads. If you’re looking for more detail on the topic of SEO, check out this article.
On one hand, we highly recommend engaging an SEO expert because it’s a full time job that requires ongoing attention. On the other hand, we’ve had our share of bad experiences with SEO experts that just create confusion with jargon and ultimately don’t get results,
With this in mind, we also recommend checking out this blog post – 8 ways to avoid getting ripped off by your SEO expert… there are some great companies out there, you’ve just got to find the right one and then hold them accountable for getting results!
You can manage SEO yourself with a keyword research tool, but be prepared to invest a significant proportion of your in-house marketing teams time to make the most of it. SEO can cost anywhere between $75 and $1200 per month if you do it yourself with a keyword research tool (at the top end of that budget, you’re delving into the realm of artificial intelligence – if you can afford it, it’s a game changer.
An external Consultant will cost between $70 and $170 per hour and up to $8,000 per month if you hire a full-service marketing agency. Small and medium sized companies usually spend proportionally less on SEO than big brands, but don’t underestimate how powerful it can be.
Done well, SEO ensures you are answering the questions your audience is asking.
N.B. you’ll likey hear your SEO Consultant refer to long-tail keywords, which is where your potential customer is getting more specific with their search. We prefer to drop the jargon and focus on answering the questions your customers are asking, but its all connected. If you do want to read more on long-tail keywords, check out this article.
Step 4 - Make it about them
When a visitor first lands on your site, use images, video and/or words that communicate what you do, how it will make their better and what they need to do to buy or engage with your company.
If you can use video to help visualize how great life will be using, or after using your product or service, even better.
Human beings are hardwired to strive for a better future, help your customers see what that looks like – don’t make them work hard to figure it out.
Pick three key benefits of working with you or buying your product, talk to your existing customers if you’re not sure what these are. Keep these benefits concise and focus on real value rather than vague buzzwords.
We suggest including these early on your main home page. If your business is more complex, you’ll need to think about the overarching benefits or think about how you might use sub pages to highlight the key reasons why you can make their life better
Stop using long paragraphs of text about your company mission, vision and values, your customers don’t care at this stage and it only serves to distract from the primary objective of the site – to convert visitors into real customer enquiries.
When you do talk about your company, do it in a way that shows empathy for your customers and authority in your industry, relate it back to them without being boastful… they are not looking for a hero, they are looking for a guide!
You don’t need to include links to every part of your site and every product, these only serve to divert your visitors attention away from your calls to action.
Don’t be afraid to remind your customers what’s at stake if they don’t buy your product or service.
If there’s nothing at stake and no consequences for not working with you, there is no reason to work with you.
Now you need to be cautious about the words you use here, it’s not about being a scaremonger, but rather reminding your customer that your product or service solves a genuine problem, or helps them achieve a better future.
Make it easy for your customers to see how they can do business with you, give them a simple roadmap or plan for success. Three step plans work best here, even if working with you involves 10 or 20 steps, try to break it down into 3 easy to understand phases.
When your customer is considering buying from you, they are putting themselves at risk
(risk of losing money, losing face, losing reputation), so you need to give them a path to follow that reduces that anxiety.
Step 5 – Invest time and money in creating great blog content
Its no secret that getting found on Google means getting onto page 1, because rarely does anyone click past the first page of search results. To do that,
you need to write great content that answers the questions your customers are asking.
Leverage copywriters on your team or hire an external copywriter that understands the value of writing for a commercial business.
Spend time with your subject matter experts and marketing team in a room, figuring out what content you need and building that into a calendar, with a clear project plan detailing who is accountable for writing it and by when.
Build on this content and drive traffic to it through your social media channels, always focusing on giving something of value away, something specifically that your target customers will find valuable.
With enough time, it's easy to create lots of content, but if it isn’t valuable to the specific audience your targeting, you are wasting resources. You should also avoid being cute unless it serves the overarching strategy for your business.
As you work through your content strategy, ask yourself these key questions:
Does it add value to your customer? i.e. are you genuinely giving away your expertise for free?
Does it position you as an authority in your industry?
Does it resolve a problem or frustration your target customer is facing?
Will it create a sense of reciprocity?
Will your customers be prepared to exchange an e-mail address in return for the more in depth content you plan to produce? E.g. eBooks
Have you got compelling titles for your blog posts, eBooks and e-mail marketing campaigns?
If you cant answer yes to these questions, go back over your plan and be tough on what stays in and what ends up in the recycle bin. Great movies often have lots of deleted scenes; the reason they delete these scenes is because they don’t serve the overall plot of the movie.
Make sure your content serves your plot!
If you have the budget to invest in keyword research tools, do it, it beats guessing!
Along with the right lead generation software, this is a key part of your marketing technology stack. And, if your budget stretches far enough, look at what’s possible with artificial intelligence.
The days of stuffing content with keywords, or spending multiple days researching content will soon be a thing of the past; analyzing copious amount of data and making
“Ai powered” content recommendations are a reality today
if you have the budget to invest in these platforms.
If you need support with your overall marketing strategy, creating a sales funnel, making your website work for you, creating eBooks or other lead generators or would like to leverage our artificial intelligence tools to create powerful content for your business, click here to schedule a discovery call with the One Zebra team.
We help companies align their marketing strategy, get a clear message, connect with more customers and ignite their revenue growth.