Often I hear company owners say they don’t want to bother with their websites. When I ask them about it, I get one of two responses: They say they don’t like their website but don’t want to spend the time and money to rework it. Or they say it’s “fine,” it will do for now. Either way, the website is not doing what a site is meant to do: Be an introduction for a company, and a continuing way to reach potential customers.
Many firms will put more money into making their reception space look impressive than they will put into their website and online marketing. They understand the value of the impression an office can make. The website is in that same category, except its reach is much greater. Considering how much a website could do for a company, just leaving the site “as is” essentially amounts to wasting a valuable sales and marketing resource. A good site can be set up to capture leads, tell what is unique about your company, and show how your company can be a benefit before a potential client even contacts you.
But what if you finally get past some of those objections and you decide to bite the bullet and redo the site? Given that it can be a challenging process, here are the five most common mistakes to avoid:
1. Looks like everyone else—impersonal.
Many sites try to look like each other, or follow the latest trend. They start with a home page with too much content or often feel cold and impersonal.
A site needs to reflect the company’s personality—whether it’s “we play tough, nothing is too difficult for us to tackle” or “we listen to you and will handle any problems or needs with expediency, so you don’t need to worry.” The tough players will have an in-your-face site, and the service-oriented firm will have a warmer, more accessible feel. Professionalism comes through for both.
2. Internally focused on the company rather than externally on the client.
Frankly, clients don’t care that much about your company’s mission. What they do care about is: What can you do for them, and what kind of reputation do you have? When you focus more on the benefits you offer, your prospect senses you will focus on them—and you more readily differentiate your company. Client alerts and articles in your areas of expertise show what your company and its people feel passionate about and have special expertise in. A company can gain a lot of credibility if it provides client briefings and backgrounders on especially complex issues.
3. No calls to action.
Guide visitors on the site to what you want them to do, whether it’s calling you or downloading reports and white papers. Use download buttons and links that are obviously buttons to click on. Buttons also make it easier for them to see where to sign up for a newsletter or how to access your blog if you have one.
4. Making it difficult for interested people to contact your company and get access to its resources.
On many sites, it’s difficult to find a phone number; instead, you get a form. While you do want to capture visitors to your site, you also want to make it easy for them to call you directly. Sites are for making you more accessible to your customers, not less.
5. Photos that don’t relate to what the company does (pictures of the city, office building).
There are exceptions to this, but because so many sites use the city they live in as the main home page photo, it’s best to stay away from a city photo, unless you use it in a unique way. Look for images that are compelling but not cliche. How many have people sitting around a conference table? How many use stock photography and models rather than real people? Every company can find creative ways to present its work.
If you know you need a better web presence or recognize one or more of these mistakes on your site, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I offer a free hour-long assessment to help you determine where to start.