You can’t have it both ways. You must choose. Here’s the typical conversation.
Business Executives: “My website isn’t important to my business. It doesn’t do anything to help drive sales.”
Me: “OK. You should take down your website and save the money.”
Business Executives: “I can’t do that. I need a website.”
Do you see the contradiction? There’s a mental conflict that they can’t resolve.
They know it’s a ridiculous idea to get rid of their website. But they’re also unable to connect the role of their website to their business goals. There are good reasons for this.
One reason is what I call “magic bean syndrome”. Everyone wants magic beans that will make life easy and their problems go away. They want people to come to their website and immediately buy. But there’s another greater cause.
Most businesses don’t understand the roles their website should play in the customer value journey. And it’s possible that now is not the time to focus on your website.
We’ll try to answer these questions. Just click on the links below to jump directly to each section:
- What is the single most important thing a website should do?
- Biggest mistakes businesses make with their websites?
- Three lies people tell themselves about their website.
- How can I put my website to work?
- Should I update my website or my sales process?
What is the single most important thing a website should do?
The single most important thing a website should do is serve your customers or potential customers well. If you serve your prospects well, then they will become your customers. If you serve your customers well, then they will continue to be your customers.
Your website is an important part of your customer’s journey. And you probably need leads for your sales funnel. But there’s a problem.
Most websites are horrible at generating leads. But it’s not a failure of the medium. It’s a failure of your mindset.
Unless what you’re selling is BOTH illegal AND addictive, nobody wants to be in your sales funnel. And everyone knows a “contact us” form is the fast lane to a sales conversation. So, what do you do?
Romance your prospects. Entice them. Make it irresistible for them to give their name and email address.
Romancing and enticing is typically in the form of a lead magnet. Meaning: you offer something valuable from you in exchange for something valuable from them (their name and email address). Informational Papers are the most common form of lead magnets. The Harvard Business Review reveals why this is important.
According to the Harvard Business Review, 60% of the buyer’s journey is self-education. Make your website the hub of your customer’s self-education if you want to be their preferred and trusted vendor.
Biggest mistakes businesses make with their websites?
The biggest issue with website design is that it ends up being a beauty contest. And is judged by people who have no qualifications or experience in website conversion. Here’s how it typically goes.
Someone decides they need a new website. The starting metrics are rarely defined. The target metrics are rarely defined. But there’s some belief that a refreshed look will increase sales. Then they assemble the committee.
The committee members have typically never seen their own Google Analytics. They’ve never run an A/B test to increase conversions. But each one has strong beliefs on what’s important.
Without meaningful metrics and goals, the website redesign turns into a beauty contest. And the committee starts fighting over logos and designs. We’ve looked at the ROI of logo design. And if there is a ROI, it’s an inverse function. Companies who spend the least on their logo designs tend to be the market leaders.
As an example, one trend is to have fancy animations on websites doing all sorts of things. But these animations work against the business goals. Animations usually decrease conversions. The people who are demanding them think they are kind of cute. And because they see other people in their industry doing it – they think they should do it also.
The reason these animations don’t work is in the way our brain prioritizes focus. Our biological programing is to keep track of things that are moving, because things that are moving are more likely to kill you than those that aren’t. When you put a moving animation on your website, that’s what your visitors will focus on. If your copy is good and your calls to action are good, you’re getting people away from consuming the “good” content and converting. Instead of converting, they’re watching some silly animation that someone thought was cute.
The bottom line is website design should be driven by the desire to convert customers. And should be created by people who have the qualifications to evaluate what will or will not achieve the business goals.
Three lies people tell themselves about their website.
Lie #1: My website is not important to my business.
Truth: If it’s not important, then shut it down. The response to that is “I can’t get rid of my website.” Well, you just contradicted yourself. Your website is important to your business. Start giving it the respect it deserves.
Lie #2: I need a website so people can get my phone number and address.
Truth: All you need is a Google My Business page. Google will list your business phone number and address.
Lie #3: I get my customers from referrals, not from my website.
Truth: The referral business has been around way, way, way, way longer than the Internet. We have thousands of years of proof that you don’t need a website to run a business off referrals.
Now, we know shutting down your website is stupid and would be a ridiculous thing to do. But this argument gets stuck in this circular reasoning of “my website is not important, but I have to have it because it’s important.” Embrace the reality. Your website is important to your business. It is there to accomplish a purpose. It’s time to get started on putting your website to work.
How can I put my website to work?
Your website probably serves more purposes than you think. The best place to start is by listing out the current purposes of your website, and purposes you’d like it to accomplish. Once you’ve clarified the purposes that your website achieves, the next step is to put together a strategy of how your website can most efficiently and most effectively accomplish these purposes.
Harvard Business Review released a study that said 60% of the customer journey is self-education. What that means is that when people are in that 60% of the customer journey, they don’t want to talk to your sales team, and they don’t want to call your phone number.
So back to the central theme of use your website – and all of your marketing – the focus should be on serving your customers… If 60% of the customer journey is self-education, then use your website to educate your customers. Help them through that 60% of the journey. They want to know more than just your address.
One of the biggest fears people have is looking stupid and getting on the phone and asking a dumb question. Or the fear of being taken advantage of. They want to be savvy shoppers. Turn your website into something that helps people through that 60% of self-education. Give your customers the tools to be better, more informed consumers.
This all goes back to the original purpose stated above. “The single most important thing a website should do is serve your customers or potential customers well.” That should be the main purpose.
A great example of this put into action is a fiber glass swimming pool company. The economy was in the tank in 2009, and the owner decided to use the extra time to answer every single question he’d ever been asked about fiber glass swimming pools. He put all of these Q&A’s on his website, all of which were questions people had while they were in the process of considering buying a pool.
He turned his website into a tool that helped people through that 60% of self-education. It made his customers better and more informed shoppers. So, once the economy bounced back, and these folks were ready to put in pools – he ended up being the default phone call because he had built so much credibility and so much trust through education.
Should I update my website or my sales process?
If you feel like you have a sales engine that’s clipping along smoothly and you need more leads, then focus on your website. If you’re having trouble selling your product or service, then revamp your sales process.
Jon Spoelstra said, if you can’t change your product, stop whining and sell what you have. Jon was hired to market the New Jersey Nets. They were dead last for ticket sales in the league. For five straight years they had finished either last or second to last in NBA rankings.
Jon’s strategy was to sell corporate tickets to local companies. The typical response he got was “the Nets stink.” He’d say, yes, we do. Here’s how we can help you. And he found a way to sell tickets to people who were previously ill-disposed to buying from them.
So, if you’re having a sales problem – I’d work on that first. Look at the number of opportunities you have and how many of those opportunities materialize into closed deals. If that number is low, tune up your sales funnel because you’ve got a problem there. Then use the revenue from that to fund rebuilding your website.
Website design is expensive. (Or, if it isn’t expensive, you’re probably hiring the wrong agency.) So, don’t throw anymore good money at bad design. Start with a strategy. Your strategy should include the entire customer journey. Then map the role of your website into that customer journey. Don’t do it the other way around.
When you build a website, and then map your customer journey, you’ve just wasted a ton of money. Remember the place of a website. It is the learning hub for your customer to execute their self-education. Your website, in combination with marketing automation, is the facilitator of that self-education.
If you’re not closing the leads you have, then you should fix that first. The messaging on your website should support your sales process. If your sales process is broken, fix that first so you understand what your website messaging should be.
Good luck. And always keep your focus on serving the needs of your prospects.