One of my most favourite aspects of my job is meeting and greeting clients and potential clients from a really wide range of businesses. One minute I could be planning a website for a large eCommerce store and the next planning content and messaging for a small independent professional services firm. Regardless of the size or nature of your business there is one common principle for an effective commercial website. Hustle (and no we don’t mean the illegal kind!)
If a potential customer came into your store/office/studio would you make eye contact? Offer some assistance? Share your expertise? Offer your business card in case they wanted to get in touch? Ask them for their details? I’m certain that you would do many of these things and you’ve probably mastered your own sales techniques based on your customers reactions. Your website should also hustle for business (and no I am not going to endorse those annoying pop-ups!)
Firstly you should be clear on what you want your website visitors to do, because if you know what you want them to do you can guide them in the right direction. Draw up a list and create a hierarchy of actions. For example if you are selling holiday accommodation your list might look a bit like this
- Book online
- Download brochure
- Find out information and come back later and book
- Email or call for further information
- Connect via mailing list or social media
- Recommend to friends and family
Customer Journeys: Armed with your desired actions you’re now all set to consider your website visitors and exactly how you will help them to reach their goals. Take some time to consider each type of visitor (the first time visitor who found you on Google, the referral, the visitor coming back after receiving a brochure etc) and what information or functionality they will require. It’s very likely that customers will have completed more than one of the actions on your list before actually converting, this is often referred to as the conversion tunnel. The customer journey is all about enabling (and encouraging!) customers to progress to the next stage and your website should be helpful in this process.
Calls To Action: The Call To Action (CTA) is an instruction to make an immediate action. It could be a simple line of text asking website visitors to call you or a buy now button. Your website should employ a series of CTAs to support the customer journey and your business goals.
** TIP ** If your website is not transactional (i.e you don’t have the booking engine or eCommerce functionality just yet) then fake it! Put in place the usual CTAs and use forms to allow potential customers to send through their requests for you to process off-line. This will make your website seem more helpful whilst harvesting customer data; it also presents the perfect opportunity to delight with more considered points of contact (the well designed Thank You page and the helpful Confirmation Email including some FAQs for example.)
Enquiry Forms. Adding a friendly enquiry form on every page of your website will increase conversion. If you are selling a service you can include a neatly designed form at the bottom of every page. If you are running an eCommerce website you might prefer to include some simple “get in touch” type functionality which could then expand to reveal the full form. Enquiry forms won’t work as well on a side panel or on a separate page.
Showcase. Let’s go back to the holiday accommodation scenario. Your website visitor is looking at a specific holiday cottage. All of the information they need is available alongside the considered book now button. But what if they don’t want that cottage? Why not include sign-posts (marketing speak for links, usually as a graphic) for similar cottages based on their search criteria? In another example you might be offering B2B services and have specific and different types of customers, in which case you can group relevant services together.
Social Proof: Testimonials are a great way to endorse your products and services using the language that you customers are using. By including snippets of social proof throughout your website you are hustling for business from those that are more hesitant and need that little bit of extra persuasion.
Messaging: And by messaging I really mean copy and tone of voice. It’s absolutely not good enough to include words like “we aim to deliver the best service…” . If your website is going to hustle for business and win you more customers then the copy needs to be engaging, informative and compelling. Your messaging can be understood more fully if it’s accompanied by strong branding and imagery.
Content: By producing valuable content you can become the go-to expert in your field. Your customers probably already really value your insights into your products and services. You can also think laterally about how to create content to include topics that reunite your customers but are not actually related to your products (eg you could be a small independent local business that becomes to go-to expert on the goings on of the local community. All of the knowledge that you have at your fingertips can be utilised to build an effective blog, newsletter, knowledge base, app, video or social media following.
Remarketing: If you have an advertising budget, you might want to consider a remarketing campaign. Remarketing (or retargeting) is when you display adverts for your business to people who have already visited your website. So if someone looks at one of your products but doesn’t purchase, you can advertise to them on other websites, enticing them to return and complete their purchase.
I’d love to hear your thoughts below so do comment below. I will leave you with a screenshot of a demo project showing a website designed for business.