Don’t judge a book by its cover. This is most probably the most irrelevant quote of our modern day culture. In times where people are stimulated by so many external factors and with digital innovations molding us into a quick fix generation, you are lucky to even get a first impression.
The following five points may seem very obvious to most readers but the harsh truth is that the majority of people take them for granted and make do with what they have.
It is important to remember that people are window shopping every day. When you walk past a clothing shop window, you look at the clothes on display in the window and you know straight away whether you want to enter the store, or if the clothes just aren’t something you would consider.
1. Looks Count
The same logic applies to the online environment. People come into contact with hundreds of websites each month and with online search being the first call to action for most businesses and potential customers, it is important that you make a good first impression, if you are lucky enough to get one.
People are fickle and all it can take is a less than great website to be removed off the consideration set completely. In the past, people were the face of the business, but now in more recent history, this role is filled by your company website.
People often refer to consumers having a relationship with their brand, so I like to look at it like dating:
The first thing you look for is attraction – Does he/she look nice? This could be translated into the visual appearance of your website, is your website professionally designed? Is it modern? Is it visually appealing?
Often it doesn’t matter how much better your service is than your competitors, if their website is better than yours and appears to be more professionally presented, the perception could be that they are more professional and people will be likely to trust them more than you.
Make sure your website is designed by a professional designer and not your next door neighbour’s daughter who did a one year design certificate in Microsoft paint. Remember, what you perceive to look great and what actually looks great might be a pretty humbling experience. Get a second, third and fourth opinion, ask your existing clients what they think, get feedback and then get a professional to help you.
2. Make the message clear
Going back to the dating analogy: once you have had the initial attraction, you now want to engage with the person in conversation. It is very important to acknowledge that although someone might be attractive, they may not have substance. Remember first impressions last, so please do not overwhelm people with too much boring information all at once. People are lazy, they will not read it.
Make sure that people know your business in ten seconds or less. What is your service? What is your selling proposition? This needs to be very obvious as soon as people land on your page.
Another rule is that people need to be able to find the information they are looking for in three clicks or less. If your current site does not follow this principle, you will lose customers who do not have the patience to search through endless pages to get the information they need.
Make sure you have a professional copywriter carefully craft the written content on your website for maximum efficiency and clarity of your messaging and services.
3. Search is King
The truth is that it doesn’t matter if you have the best site in the world with the most engaging and relevant content possible. If people can’t find your site, it’s like uploading a video to YouTube and hoping someone will find it. You have to make sure that your site appears high up in search browsers. There are a number of ways to do this but the single most important factor that Google tracks is the content on your site, yet again verifying why you should have a professional writer craft your content.
It is also very important to decide on the keywords that you want to target. Keywords are words that people type into the search bar to find your website/service. Google Adwords has a great tool for finding out which target words work best within any given category/industry, and this will help you identify the most appropriate keywords to increase the chances of people finding your website.
Once you have done this, your writer will integrate your chosen keywords into the written content of your site and Google will display your site higher in the search results as it has a high relevancy to what is being searched for. There are many other strategies of improving your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and it is very important that you have a professional help you with all the necessary tricks and tools to help you improve your online visibility.
4. Be up-to-date
One thing that people also look for is recent activity. If your website has a forum or a blog within the site, make sure that it is up-to-date. This might sound trivial but trust me, if a potential client sees that your last blog update was from 2010, they might question whether you are still in business or not.
The same goes for your social media. If you have links to your social media platforms, it is important to keep them up to date in case a potential client clicks the link to see your recent activity, or possibly to try and find out what you have been up to in your day-to-day business.
A static business shows a poor attention to detail and work ethic. You have to be on the ball, you have to be active and you have to engage with your social audience. If you do not have the time to manage these social media platforms, outsource it to somebody who has the time to give it the attention it deserves.
5. Make use of your data
Although this is the new buzz word around town, the truth is that data capture is an old, yet crucial, part of growing your business and making the most out of your site.
Data capture is mostly used for generating leads and closing business deals.
At this point, you already have people on your site and they have already chosen to view your page and read your content. In this day and age that is probably about 66% of closing a sale. What you need to do is have ways of capturing the data of your visitors, so that you can continue to engage with them after they have left your site.
You can do this is a number of ways; a popular way is inviting people to sign up for a monthly newsletter and asking for their email address in order to receive the information. This automatically adds people to your mailing list where you can further engage with the customer. Another way is to ask people to submit a message in order to contact you. This will then capture their details and basic information about their enquiry and you can now communicate with them until they opt-out of your mailing list.
These five pointers are the basics of running a business site and no shortcuts should be taken. It is no secret that as an entrepreneur you have to play the role of many skills and wear many hats within your business. Stick to what you are good at and outsource the skills where necessary. In my experience, creativity is a skill and a resource that is taken for granted in a world of saturated websites and endless content. He who looks the best and shouts the loudest will win. Do not fall victim to creative mediocrity and get the professional resources that you need to take your business to the next level.
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