Your Website Sucks! (maybe) - and how to fix it

Posted by Keith Jolie on Monday, September 15, 2014 Under: Content Marketing
After attending a technology briefing sponsored by Microsoft, I had met a number of great microsoft partners and received their business cards, so I took some time to review their company websites to learn about their companies. I had one general conclusion....

(NB: Before you read this and think that it doesn't apply to you because you don't run a technology site - it does)

Their websites were awful. These companies were mostly small to medium sized businesses that provided some kind of network, database or collaboration related service and not one of the sites I visited were very ineffective as a sales tool.

So many companies like this are losing customers because of their website and they don't even know it.

So what were the problems and how can you fix them? Here are a few common problems and my suggestions:

1. No Brand Identity

Outside of a logo, the sites did very little to establish a distinct brand. The use of colour was not consistent, and no care was taken to choose an appropriate font or consistent formatting to the site.
The fix? Taking a little time to establish a brand identity that includes a professionally designed logo, a consistent colour palette, and one or two fonts that fit professionally with your brand and that you use exclusively across the web, your business cards and brochures will help to make your company brand recognizable.

2. 100% industry lingo

Cloud, Solution, ROI, Lower Cost of Investment, Greater Returns, MSP, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. If you're not tech savvy and you are reading those words thinking "what's that?" then thank you for proving my point.  Your website should be clear to your grandmother.

Too many industry specific companies take the same sales pitch that they receive from their vendors and regurgitate it on their client facing documents including their website. The result is that most of the companies I looked at were saying almost the same thing about their businesses on their website. For a potential customer looking for a vendor, this means that you have done nothing to stand out from the crowd.

The fix? Remember that the people buying your services are ...well...people. Explain how your products and services will benefit them and be very specific. Saying that your solution offers a lower cost of investment only prompts the buyer to ask how? So spell it out for them in human, not machine language. Avoid technical jargon where possible and use technical terms sparingly. There may be good reason to include technical terms (SEO for instance) in your page copy but remember that first and foremost, your pages need to be designed for your audience, who probably isn't as familiar with the acronyms and terminology as you think they are.

3. No differentiator
The companies did very little to establish what made them a better choice than their competitors. Most made a half hearted attempt, but again they most often resorted to very generic references to lower cost of investment or customer service.

The fix? You really need to understand what advantage you offer over the other companies that offer similar services. Software licensing, hardware costs and other hard costs are pretty hard to differentiate because they are fixed by your suppliers, but talking about your specific method for service delivery and it's benefits might be a starting point. In general you need to talk about your strengths, what you are the best at, and what truly distinguishes your company from the others.

4. How do I buy?
Many of the sites made it difficult to understand how to contact someone if I wanted to buy and offered very little information beyond a generic email address.

The fix? EVERY page needs to have contact information because you don't know what page of your site someone will be on when they want to speak to someone. If possible, include the specific contact information for the specific person that I should talk to. People like to talk to people and they like to buy from people. Try to make your page professional but inviting - a pleasant looking picture of your sales team members or company principle with their direct contact information can be the difference between a call and no action.

5. No Content 
It's not enough to have a paragraph or two that talks about your company, your services and so on. From a customer perspective and from an SEO perspective, a lack of content that helps a prospective client research before they speak to you is one of the biggest mistakes that you can make.

The fix? Provide clear concise information well organized on the appropriate pages of your site, with enough information (not to be confused with sales copy) so that your customers can ensure that they are well informed when they choose to engage your company.
Do you have some great customers? Ask them for testimonials that you can use on your website. Social proof is very powerful.
Consider providing even more detail on a company blog where you can answer common questions, provide case studies, provide detailed product information and introduce promotions.

6. Stock Photos
Pictures of a fake looking "team" smiling around a computer do nothing to sell your company.

The fix? Using some stock photos may be unavoidable, but limit their use and spend extra time (and money) to get photos that really illustrate the content on your site. Even better, hire a professional photographer who can help you to provide a visual representation of your brand through photos of your facility, staff and perhaps even customers.

For a no obligation assessment of your website - contact us today

In : Content Marketing 

Tags: content marketing  website copy  local business strategies 
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