Designing an effective website (one that brings in business) can be tricky business. In our work, we’ve seen lots of people focus too much on the details, neglecting the overarching business goals behind what their marketing efforts.
To help orient you as you consider how to make your website more effective, we identified a handful of best practices and things to watch out for.
Here is our checklist of best practices for your business’s website
#1: Watch Conversions, Not Traffic
It is true that when no one is visiting your site, you’re not going to get any new clients from it.
But traffic is only one piece of the puzzle, and it doesn’t necessarily translate into dollars in your bank account.
Assuming you have a baseline level of traffic (a few hundred visits a month), you can begin to test what’s producing results.
Results from your site are what’s referred to as conversions.
A conversion happens when someone on your site takes the next step that you want them to take.
For a service business, this next step could be clicking the button to call you, sending you a message through your contact form, or subscribing to your email list via a lead magnet.
By watching conversions over time, you’ll have a close eye on numbers (and areas for improvement) that have a direct impact on your bottom line.
#2: Write for Quality over Quantity
Somewhere along the line you’ve probably heard that blogging and producing content for your website is important for getting traffic.
It is true, but it’s not as black and white as it sounds.
The key to success when writing for your website is to have a rock solid marketing strategy behind it. Otherwise, you’re just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.
The writing you produce for your website should be guided by an overarching business strategy.
When you invest time and money into this kind of writing, think of what its purpose is. Most likely, it’s to expose your business to new potential clients.
When someone is searching for smart home services, for example, they’re searching things like:
“How much does a home theater cost?”
“Best brand of automated lighting”
“How to make my house into a smart home”
In writing blog posts, your job is to provide the highest quality, most authoritative answer available for one specific question.
If you’re spending time writing about recent hires or generic company updates, potential customers (the people searching for this stuff!) are not going to find those articles.
This is because these days, Google is really good at recognizing quality, authoritative content.
It looks at things like how long people are on your page and how often/how quickly they jump back to the search results. Over time, your site will get better (more targeted) traffic by focusing on quality over quantity.
#3: Marketing Strategy Trumps Design
Just as your website’s written content should be guided by business strategy, so should the site’s design.
Yes, the look and feel is often the first thing someone notices, so it can’t be too bad. But a beautiful website with no strategy behind it is like building a showroom with no signs, no road to get there and a sales guy who sleeps all afternoon.
So before you go redesign your website because you think it looks out of date, ask yourself a few questions:
- What do I want my website to do for me?
- If I could clone one of my clients and projects, who would it be?
- What does my website need to emphasize in order to get more clients like them?
- What are my concrete, measurable marketing goals for the next 3, 12, 24 months?
Asking yourself questions like this is the start of designing your marketing roadmap, which you can then use to guide your marketing efforts (including website updates) over the next year or more.
The best design is one that brings you closer to your defined business goals.
In most cases, it means one that is:
- Easy and intuitive to use
- Quickly and definitively communicates who you are, why that matters to the reader, and what they should do next
- Establishes credibility and social proof
- Guides people to a clear action (e.g., Schedule a consultation)
- Captures emails of people not yet ready to act
Once these pieces (and the strategy behind them) are in place, you can design something beautiful around them.
#4: Your Homepage is Not About You
How many times have you landed on a company’s website and been unsure of what exactly they do?
Or, perhaps more revealingly, how often do you land on a website and understand within a split second exactly what the company behind it does?
Differentiation in your clients’ eyes doesn’t come from industry jargon or corporate gobbledegook. “Designing synergy in technology ecosystems for 30 years” doesn’t mean anything to them.
So write clearly and concisely. Communicate what you do, but in a way that highlights the benefits your clients get.
For example, a heading of:
“Milwaukee’s Premier Custom Integrator”
“Effortless, Custom Home Automation for Greater Milwaukee”
See the difference? The second one still conveys that you’re a premier Milwaukee provider while putting it in terms that clients (1) understand and (2) care about.
It addresses their concerns:
- “I don’t want to be confused in my own home”: It’s effortless
- “But my house is different, will this work?”: It’s custom
And clearly conveys the benefit they get: simple, effortless convenience that makes their life easier.
As business owners, we’re genuinely proud of how long we’ve been in business, the certifications we have and the excellent service we provide.
But from the perspective of a person discovering your website for the first time from a Google search, the goal is to decide as quickly as possible if you’re the type of company who can help them solve their problem.
By keeping “About Us” type information to the “About Us” page, we allow the homepage to remain focused on its goal: turning visitors into leads or email subscribers.
#5: Give People a Reason to Come Back
If you build it, they will (probably not) come (back)
To understand the importance of giving people a reason to come back to your website, just look at your own habits online.
Say you’re looking for a vegan catering company.
If you’re like most people, you start your search from your phone during some free time in the day.
You might make a mental note of which companies look good. Then, maybe a week later, you sit down at your computer at home that night and do your search again.
Now, imagine an alternative scenario.
The very first time you did your search, you found a catering company that offered a free vegan meal plan.
You dropped in your email for access. Then, each of the next five days, you received emails that showed you their expertise and provided value up front.
This is called a “lead magnet”, and it’s how you can stay in front of people without paying for ads.
When it comes time to hire a catering company, who do you think would be first on your list? Who has already proven their authority? Who do you think could successfully charge a higher price?
Now, put yourself in your prospective clients’ shoes. How can you use your website and email strategy to get yourself to the top of their list, demonstrate your expertise and differentiate yourself before the pricing conversation?
Here is best practice for successful lead magnets:
- It’s free in exchange for their email
- It’s specific to your ideal customer
- It’s specific to one service you provide
- It’s immediately useful/valuable
- BONUS: it’s valuable in an ongoing way (i.e., the person comes back to it repeatedly)
Most people don’t come back on their own. But by making the extra effort to capture the emails of the “window shoppers”, you give yourself the chance to encourage or incentivize them to come back.
Follow these website best practices and you’ll begin to turn your site from a static brochure into a marketing engine.