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February 9, 2021

Why are there so many lousy websites?

It’s hard to believe that in 2021, I still have to write a blog post like this.

The very first website was published in 1990 – and a lot of changes have happened since then with the technology. Like most tech, it’s now a lot easier and less expensive to put up and maintain a sharp, professional website then it was just a few years ago. And yet, I come across websites every day that are just plain lousy! There are no two ways about it. So, for those of you whose website needs some help – and you know who you are – here are 6 guidelines to help get your website back to being an asset instead of a liability.

#1. Make navigation easy and logical. Use a simple toolbar or drop-down menu. Have a separate ‘button’ or ‘tab’ for each of the main content topics. Under those, put the sub-topics in a logical place. I once spent 15 minutes on a website looking for case studies because they were listed under a button that in no way should have connected to them.

And call things what they are. For example, the button that links to your blog should read ‘blog.’ If possible, integrate a search function into your site. Make it easy for visitors to find what they want. Nowhere is the KISS* strategy more important than here.

* KISS = Keep it Simple, Stupid!

#2. Make it easy for visitors to get in touch with you. At the very least, put a link to your Contact Us page on every page of your website. The same goes for links to all of your social media properties. And on the Contact Us page, give your visitors an option… a form they can fill in, an email address, a phone number and even a mailing address.

#3. Tell visitors who your clients are. Every website showcases what services a firm offers, but I’m amazed how many don’t share who they provide those services to. Whether you show a list of clients (my favorite!) or list the industries or markets you serve, your potential buyers want to know that this “ain’t your first rodeo.” That you’ve delivered these services to other companies like theirs and that you have experience in their sector. Call it a ‘proof source.’

#4. Start with an ‘elevator pitch.’ That is, as soon as someone lands on your homepage, it should say what you do and who you do it for. And it should be crystal clear! A visitor needs to know immediately that they’ve landed on the website of the right kind of company (and often, a company name isn’t clear enough). On our website, for example, the very first thing you see when you land is “The Experts in Marketing & Sales Solutions for the Market Research Industry.”

#5. Make resources available. Websites with no resources – no blog posts, no case studies, no white papers, etc. – are missing a HUGE opportunity. Resources like that deliver a number of benefits:

  • Resources can be another kind of ‘proof source.’ A case study, for example, provides details of how your services helped a client. It’s proof that you can do what you say you can do.
  • They showcase your SME – Subject Matter Expertise. For example, write a series of blog posts on mobile surveys and you’re showing the world that you’re an expert in that area.
  • Resources attract repeat visitors. If you regularly add new resources to your website (and blogging is an easy way to do this), you’re giving visitors a reason to come back to your site again and again – keeping your firm and its services top-of-mind with them.
  • Finally, letting people know you have those resources gives you something to post about on LinkedIn and include in your enewsletter… something other than just pitching products.

#6. Words matter. Perhaps the biggest problem I see is the language used on websites. It’s always “we” focused… “We do this” and “We’re great at that,” etc. But you can’t stop there. Your buyers don’t really care about what you can do… they care about what you can do for them. So, don’t just talk about methodologies, also talk about applications. Talk about the kinds of problems you’re good at solving. Don’t just tell visitors what you do… tell them how they’ll benefit.

Beyond that, write using simple language – at a 6th-10th grade level. It makes whatever you’re talking about that much easier to understand.

Finally, tell your visitors what you want them to do. For example, at the bottom of a page describing one of your services, be sure to tell the reader what to do next… to call, email, fill out a form, download sales collateral, etc. Don’t assume that they’ll proactively do anything. Use these ‘calls to action’ to help them along.

There are plenty of other enhancements we could list here…

  • Add a section to your website showcasing your staff.
  • Add a section called, ‘Why Hire Us’ and talk about how your firm is unique.
  • Make sure your website is mobile-optimized.
  • Add a ‘News’ section and catalog your press releases about new services and new employees.
  • Leverage SEO with keywords, meta descriptions, tags, headers and sub-heads, links, etc.
  • And the list goes on…

Bottom Line

Even though websites have been around for over 30 years, they are still the most important tool in your marketing toolbox. It’s the first place every potential buyer will go to do their due diligence on your firm… to understand what you do and to see if you’re a fit for them. Don’t allow your lousy website to be the thing that drives them away.

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