Apologies for making assumptions, but we’re only trying to help. If you wish to please read on and we will give you a number of reasons why we say this…
We are not going to talk specifically about features, design, SEO or social media – as for the purposes of this discussion that’s all a distraction form the main game – which is this: “What is your website doing for you and (more importantly) what is it doing for your customers?”. As someone once said “The main game is keeping the main game the main game”, so let’s get down to some (probably) hard truths.
1. You’re talking to yourself
Take a look at the language you use on your website. Notice anything? We do: The language is yours, not that of your customer. And the content is all about you, you, you! Your brand, your features, your history and your industry jargon.
How about what your customer wants; their needs, what they are searching for, how you can help them – do you even want their money? How about some plain language, working with terms they are likely to search for in Google – and then tell them in simple terms what they need to know.
Ask yourself this question – if your website was a dinner party guest, would anyone invite them back again?
2. You don’t do anything constructive
If your customers only wanted information about your business they could probably find better information than what is available on your website. So – operating on premise that your customer actually wants to engage with your business (and you want to engage with them) – why isn’t your website more action based? That is – now you have them where you want them – what do you want them to do?
Most of your pages contain information and not enough of your site is about action (or at least permission for future action), building a connection or something more than an online version of the brochure you had printed at Snap Printing three years ago.
3. You talk too much
If your customer is going to follow accepted web norms, they are going to look at (at most) four or five of your website’s pages and spend about two minutes on your site (assuming they get past the first page and don’t ‘bounce’).
So please – stop trying to tell them everything and get to the point. If you had the length of a song to tell them everything important, what would you say (or sing)? Now if you wanted them to remember the song, what would you say? Now if you wanted them to take action based upon this song, what would you say?
Maybe you should write a song (remember to make the chorus catchy!). Maybe “you talk too much, yeah, yeah, you talk too much …” (with some subliminal “send me money now” from the backing singers). Anyway, you get the point.
4. You are full of yourself
You think that the point 3 doesn’t apply to you. You think your content is so important that everyone will break with their normal consumption patterns, simply because you are so very interesting.
Look at your web statistics – what do they say? If you are holding people for longer than 300 seconds, are they interested or just plain annoyed? While we are at it, do you really have to have so many pages? How many pages within your site have been viewed by only a dozen people this year? Or by only one?
Even the largest companies who have hundreds of website pages will usually find that 80% of their traffic comes from no more than 20 pages of their website. So did the visitors to your site really want the material they consumed? Did it drive a beneficial action, or were they just lost? Maybe that one visitor to your ‘About us” page was your mother, “I don’t really understand what you do, but it sure looked pretty – I’m so proud!”.
5. You don’t give them what they want
Giving your prospective customers what they want is actually critical. They need to know how you will help them, how they can believe you, and how the process will work. Get to the important stuff up front, newspaper style! They’re not interested in your aims, methods, discoveries and team – just the juicy bits!
Stop writing like a scientist, social researcher or lawyer (the way you were taught at school). This is not a competition and you shouldn’t be getting paid by the word. Make your headline point, give them a supporting line if you must but delete everything else.
Make sure it’s easy for them to contact you, know where you are, and transact (if a transaction is part of the story). Make these things hard for them and they won’t hang around.
6. You expect them to find you
Of course, your customer spends all of their time looking for you and your products, services and information – they have nothing better to do because you are so important (read point 4 again).
Stop assuming. You need to push, push and push some more, take a short break and push again. Rinse and repeat. You may not believe it, but you need customers as a collective more than individual customers need you.
So it’s time to cast the net: Google Adwords, a good mobile site, great SEO, blogging, social media, well crafted copy-written content, clear messages and a clear pathway to action – get on it and get on it now.
7. You don’t play by the rules
Web standards are boring, browser compatibility boring, ensuring that your code is written as responsive for tablets and smart phones is SO boring.
As for adapting your site to user traffic patterns, listening to feedback from users and interpreting system metrics – what would they know?
Most website visitors are idiots anyway, aren’t they? Why don’t you change the way the world navigates websites and redefine the way they consume online content? Sorry, we forgot that you were more important than the whole internet and it’s hard-won established practices (see point 4 again).
Why would you want to get your message through, when instead, you could take on the whole world’s habits and teach them something new instead?
Yes, all this ‘current web standards’ stuff can be boring and time consuming and you may need to get help, but DO IT – it all matters.
8. You fail to follow through
If your website can get sufficient search traffic landing in the right places and converting to action – then you are doing better than most. But why let yourself down at this point by not keeping them interested for ongoing engagement? Why make one sale today when you can make many over the long-term?
Most of the data that passes through your website is probably being lost in some server log somewhere, and out of all the information that could have helped develop a long-term relationship, only a little bit is retained.
Even if you are using Google Analytics, are you really utilising what’s useful and what’s not? Even if you’ve captured information about your customer, you’re probably not actually doing anything useful with that information that really makes their experience personal.
Get their details by asking for them in exchange for something useful (an interesting paper or guide, a discount voucher etc) or provide them with social integration so that they can easily like your page on Facebook, follow you on Twitter or pin something with Pinterest. If they engage with you socially then they are giving you permission to engage with them later on. Don’t let them down.
9. You don’t love me any more
Let’s face it – you treat every visitor just like every other visitor, no special treatment, no personalisation. Maybe in your drive towards efficiency, you could take a moment to understand when a personal touch-point should be a truly personal touch-point.
One day, even if you get everything else right, you’re customer is going to get their <insert your offer here> from someone who makes them feel good – and they may even pay more for it!
There a multitude of CRM tools out there that will allow you to personalise your customer’s online experience because let’s face it the more things you put in front of your customers that are irrelevant the more they will disengage. So take the time to collect the right information and the USE it on your website.
Well, how did you shape up?
Told you that your website was no good. But guess what? You’re not alone. The online world is still young (even if Facebook is now ten years old) and full of promise – but we ALL need to lift our game. It’s not too late!
Remember to consider your online presence carefully – implementing even one or two of the following will make a difference to your visitor’s experience and your bottom line:
1. Focus on the visitor
2. Have a clear pathway to action or engagement for future action
3. Keep it brief and get to the point
4. Apply progressive learning using your data
5. Speak the language of your customers
6. Promote aggressively
7. Use current standard practices
8. Engage with your customers once you get them to your site
9. Keep it personal
Oh – and don’t shoot the messenger.