I was asked: “How do you inspire a website?” It’s a question I’ve been asked many times. That shouldn’t be a surprise, considering our name and reputation, so it was an easy one to answer. An inspired website encourages increased traffic and reassures new custom. That’s the quick answer. Here’s the longer version.
Inspire and Engage
It is always important to try to give your website an advantage, but in the current economic climate, having a website that addresses the needs of your visitors is an absolute necessity. If you want your business to survive during the recession you must make sure that your online marketing is up to the job. The first thing that means is that your website has to inspire your visitors to talk to you. As any successful business owner knows, it is not enough to survive during a recession but to emerge stronger than when you went in. If you want to do that, you have to be inspired.
If you’re trying to find a good plumber to fix that irritating leak coming from your bathroom tap, how would you go about it? You could look in the Yellow Pages, of course, or in an online business directory such as the Plymouth Business Directory. These can be effective methods, but the best way to guarantee good results is often to ask around and find a plumber who is recommended by someone who has used them before. There is nothing so powerful as a testimonial from a satisfied client. It doesn’t matter if you’re a plumber, a lawyer or an online retailer, new clients are reassured to see testimonials from your previous clients. This is something we’ve done for a number of clients and it’s always effective. At the other end of the scale, you could add a system for clients to leave comments; Amazon does this very effectively for the products they sell and it is sometimes quoted as the main reason for their success.
One of the simplest ways to generate new business is by making it easier for your visitors to contact you. Review your site as if you were a first time visitor. How easy is it for you to make a quick enquiry? You don’t have to restrict your enquiry forms to the Contact Us page either. Put one next to each product or service description. Paul Cook, MD of Clarity Event Insurance explains the difference it made to them:
“We have more than doubled the number of new enquiries we get online now. The Return On Investment was almost immediate”.
Search Engine Optimisation is a process that is continually conducted for a website. The details are far too numerous to go into in this article, but it involves persuading the Search Engines to list your site as high up in their results as possible. A word of caution here. The declining economy has spawned a number of companies who claim to guarantee you top positioning, but this is an impossible guarantee to fulfill. It is impossible to control the Search Engines – the best anyone can manage is to persuade or encourage them.
Google has become the de facto Yellow Pages of the internet and if you can appear on page one (the top ten positions) it can mean the difference between survival or success for you.
How do you choose a good supplier? Talk to companies who have been in the business for years not months. They are unlikely to tell you all the techniques they will use, but if it only seems to be based on getting as many links from other sites as possible, beware. They should be interested in your keywords and key phrases, should have an opinion on the text used on your site and should be interested in your business plan. Listen carefully to them and if they start to promise you the top spots, take a pinch of salt!
Identify your Market
It is absolutely crucial that your website looks and feels right to your target market. If they don’t recognise that you are addressing them, you probably aren’t. Sounds obvious? Take a look at your competitors’ websites and see how few of them have got it right. The copy on most websites is written from the “I” perspective rather than the “you”. Use language and imagery that is appropriate to your target audience and they’ll respond positively.
Websites that look fresh are visited more frequently and experience a higher number of return visits. If you want your website to be inspiring it must live. Most failing websites have something in common: they haven’t been updated or changed for a long time. You can practically see the dust on them. It may be outdated graphics, naive copy or just a look-and-feel that hasn’t changed for a year (often longer). Whatever it is, get it fixed if you don’t want to drive clients into the hands of your competitors.
Identify your USP
Take a fresh look at your website and ask yourself a question: Does this website accurately convey the unique benefits of our products or services? Does it demonstrate clearly why we are the best choice? It is your responsibility to help new clients discover how and why you are the solution to their problems. Remember to sell the benefit, not the product.
It may feel as though it’s all you hear these days. Are you on Facebook? Do you have a Google Plus page? I won’t even ask if you’re on Twitter because that should be your first social media action. For many businesses, networking online is proving extremely successful. It can provide you with a powerful communication channel for your clients. The down side is that you have another customer-facing environment to look after and update. If you haven’t got time, it could get onerous to the point of wanting to throw your PC or smart phone across the room.
Whether you should be Tweeting, Facebooking or Linking In is a decision many businesses find hard to make, but the good news is we can help with deciding which social media platforms are best for your business.
The Next Step: Get Inspired
Inspiration is more than just a word, it’s essential to your business success, now more than ever before. In a time when common high street names are disappearing around us, online businesses are bucking the downward trend. To drive new custom to your door in an economic down time, you need to inspire your online identity.