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5 goals for your website
So you think your business needs a website. Well, it is the 21st century, so you’re probably right. But starting a website without a clearly defined goal is like traveling without a map: If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you’re there?
Jay Conrad Levinson, the father of Guerrilla Marketing, talked recently about this in one of his email newsletters.
To create the best content, work backwards — beginning with the goals you wish to achieve with your site. Put into writing the specific goals you wish your website to obtain for you. The more specific you are, the more like you are to hit those goals.
Since I’ve spent over a decade working on websites, I’ve developed a list of some common website goals that every site should take care of. To help determine the goals for your specific website, I suggest ranking these in order of importance.
1. Provide information
Although this may seem like a no-brainer, there are plenty of websites out there that do a terrible job on this one. Your website visitors need to know the basics about who you are and what you do before they shell out their hard earned cash for whatever you’re selling.
Jay also mentioned a guideline you should keep in mind here.
Once your prospects get to your site, the content should be the information your prospects and customers want to know the most. It’s not necessarily the content you want to put forth and boast about. Instead, it’s data about how your company can have a positive impact on visitors to your site.
2. Increase credibility
Once you’ve taken care of number one, you’ve started on this one. But you really need to take it to the next level. Make sure the information on your website is well researched and shows that you’re well informed. Blog on a regular basis, sharing industry information with website visitors. Include customer testimonials on your website with full names and, if possible, photos of your customers.
You can also include photos on your website of you and your team working with customers. This will prove that you’re not a fly-by-night organization. You actually exist, and have had customers in the past. Sites that use nothing but stock photography can’t establish that kind of credibility.
3. Create approachablity
All that is great, but it’s nothing if your website visitors still aren’t comfortable approaching you. After all, how can they buy if they can’t communicate with you in some form. So your website needs to make them feel comfortable with you, and create approachability.
The easiest way to do this is to simply provide plenty of contact information on your website, especially on your contact page. You can also include stories about clients, either sprinkling it throughout your website, or in some sort of case studies page. And, of course, make sure you’re blogging frequently and writing in a friendly tone.
4. Provide a customer benefit
What does your website visitor get out of it? While information is great, you should really give your website visitor some sort of extra bonus for visiting your website. It can be simple. If you run a medical clinic, put some of your forms on your website so they can download them and come in with them already filled in. If you run a roofing company, have a simple web application that automates part of the estimating process. (Hint: It doesn’t have to give an exact estimate, it can supply a ballpark price range.)
Here is Jay’s input on this one. Although he’s specifically talking about information and content, you can see the principle still applies.
Guerrillas know well that their sites will succeed or fail based on how much overlap there is between their content and the needs of their target audiences. They realize that exquisite design and spectacular promotion are meaningless if their content doesn’t fill the needs of their market.
The point is, providing some sort of extra benefit for your website visitor makes you and your company a better choice than your competition.
5. Provide a benefit for you!
While a good website benefits your clients, an even better website benefits you as well. If the site brings in new people and income, that’s great. But there’s so much more that’s possible!
If you have a contact form on your website (and you should), make sure you have an auto-responder that immediately replies on your behalf. (But don’t try to hide that it’s an auto-responder, or you’ll just come off as fake.) If you do have a tool to automate an estimating process, have your website send you the individual’s email address as well. Have a calendar on your website, cutting down on the time you spend answering questions about events.
Bonus: Differentiate yourself from the competition
I’m assuming here that you’ve done some research by looking at your competitors’ websites, and looking at some websites that aren’t in your industry. If not, I’ll wait.
Okay, you’re back. Now that you’ve looked at those sites, you need to put something on your own site to wow website visitors. Take something another industry is doing online, but that nobody in your industry is doing. Good artists borrow, but great artists steal!
Now that you have an idea of some of the things your website plan should include, take some action! Ideas are a dime a dozen, it’s all about execution. Plan an entire day within the next couple of weeks to update your website, or to meet with your web developer. You won’t regret it!
May 10th, 2011
Tim Priebe is a public speaker, the author of the book Webifiable and the upcoming book Blogify Your Business and the owner of T&S Web Design. You can reach him on Twitter and Facebook with the username timjpriebe.