Your Website May Reveal More Than You Really Want Customers To See
What do customers or potential customers think about your company. Do they ever see your company facilities? Have they received some of your company literature? Or is it based on meeting you or one of your representatives personally?
In this Internet age, a big part of their impression of the company will be influenced by your website. For potential customers, your website may be their only impression. The vast majority of managers, particularly in companies with the best purchasing potential, now use the Internet as their principal tool to research companies they may do business with. As they search the Web for potential suppliers, your website may be enough to get you dropped from their short list. Indeed even if they meet you personally, they may want to check further by visiting your website.
Who visits your website and how long will they stay?
So who exactly is visiting your website? What are their characteristics? Unfortunately they are not all the same. You must try to make sure that your website is attractive to your target niche of potential customers. Also nothing must get in the way of them seeing this attractive view of your company.
You are playing the percentages here. Undoubtedly many of your visitors are stressed and busy and will not work too hard at getting information. Whoever they are, you want them to see as much as they need to develop a favourable attitude towards your company.
Some purely mechanical features influence this:
So hopefully we have retained them for a short visit. Now how do we create that favourable impression?
What will impress your visitors
The potential buyer can so easily get information about potential suppliers from the Internet. How can we stand out from the crowd of competitors? Just as in face-to-face meetings, first impressions are very important. The potential buyer wants to get the best solution for his needs from a strong supplier, who is likely to give satisfactory service in every way.
To create that rapid, favourable impression, the website should deliver at least the following information on:
The website should also confirm the other attributes, which the potential customer may be seeking. Likely this means that the website should have an uncluttered appearance with professional graphic images. The website should be easy to navigate, with only few clicks to get to whatever information you are seeking. If significant sales are made in Quebec, then a bilingual introductory or “splash” page should allow access to English or French web-pages. If any sales at all are made in Quebec, then at the very least a link should be on the Welcome page, giving access to the French pages.
What may turn your visitors off
However good your website may be in terms of the messages you are delivering, some unfortunate oversights in your website may destroy that favourable impression:
You may feel that these are exaggerations yet there are many examples among current websites.
And how do you get them to find your site?
The very best way to get visitors to your site is to invite them. Send them a personalized email message or give them your business card (which should always carry your website URL). However some visitors may use a search engine to find your site. How do you make sure that the search engines will find you and will put you high in their rankings?
This is too big a topic to cover here, but some of the simplest and most powerful factors are often overlooked by websites which are otherwise very attractive. Here are a few:
So how good is your website?
Unfortunately, many companies seem to have a blind-spot as they look at their website. Their website shows a picture of their company, which may turn off or at least downgrade them relative to their competition.
Here are the key questions you might want to ask yourself about your website. Or better still, get an outsider, for example one of your customers, to answer them. Don’t forget to mention that you want a critical review, because you are looking for ways to improve.
If you get honest answers to these questions, then you may be in for a surprise.
For a more complete evaluation of your website as the most forceful element in your marketing strategy, why not use our free Website Evaluator. This details many of the important factors, which determine the effectiveness of your website with potential and existing customers. It provides a measure of this effectiveness.
To obtain a copy of this Excel worksheet, download it into another window (It is only 41 kb). Then have a number of people rate your website and see how their opinions compare. Check out the competitors’ websites and compare your own website’s ratings with their ratings..
Go try it. You’ll probably find some surprises.
It is important to see your website through the eyes of someone who does not know your company well. A knowledgeable marketing coach can be a useful partner in such an exercise. If you would like help in ensuring that your Website is a strong component in your Internet strategy, then please contact us.
Barry Welford, President of SMM Strategic Marketing Montreal works with business owners and senior management on Internet Marketing strategy and action plans to grow their companies. He is a moderator at the Cre8asite Forums and writes on current issues on the Internet and on the Mobile Web in three blogs, BPWrap, StayGoLinks and The Other Bloke’s Blog.