Millions of new websites get built every year by business owners who haven’t thought very deeply about why they want a website; what it can or cannot do for them.
And after it’s up and running those same business owners silently accept that their website gets very little traffic and attracts very little business.
That’s not going to be you! In the course of this article we will take the time to figure out just why you should have a website and how you can design it to do a job for you.
Your website is part of your marketing strategy
“97% of shoppers research local products and services online. Your website stands a good chance of being a prospect’s first impression.”
A definition of marketing for service based businesses:
“Marketing for service based businesses: the entire process of building the relationship between your business and your customer or potential customer.”
To market your business successfully – you need to:
- Be clear about what you do and what is your unique selling point.
- Know who/where your target market is.
- Build credibility within that market.
- Attract new customers and keep existing customers; and you do that by creating and maintaining business relationships.
Your website is for marketing your services/products
It is just another tool you use to meet your marketing aims. Think of nothing else when designing or redesigning your website; it’s not just about how it looks (that’s is very important as we will see later – but you aren’t creating visual art, or a set of magazine pages) and it’s not a vanity project to make you look good.
You website needs to:
- Clearly explain what your service or product is.
- Identify your target market (the visual design and content should reflect that).
- Help build your credibility within that market.
- Both attract new clients and help you keep in touch with existing clients.
In short – you need to
- Be clear about who you want to attract
- Be clear what action do you want them to take
The action you usually want them to take is to register for your mailing list or get in touch via phone, e-mail or your contact form.
You are doing this so that you can keep in touch with them and build a relationship that shows you in a credible light. Remember —we said marketing was about building relationships.
Ok — so let’s take each of these things in turn and look at examples
1.Clearly explain what your services are
Ideally you should be able to express this in no more than a couple of paragraphs. It should be easy to read and easy to understand.
It should also identify your niche, your target market and what makes you special.
Exercise 1: ignoring for now your target market and your unique selling point: write a single paragraph (or at a push two) that says exactly the service or products you provide. This should be written is such a way that it could become the introductory text on your website.
What makes you unique?
How do you make it sound like choosing you is the only logical choice? Here are some ideas to get you thinking:
- Features or additional services you add for free
- The way you deliver your service or product
- A unique guarantee
- Showing that you uniquely understand your potential customers’ problems — and can provide the solutions to those problems
- Showing clearly how your service benefits your customer? This is the old ‘benefits not features’ mantra: how specific can you be about defining the benefits of using your service
- Demonstrating that you are the most up to date with new developments in your sector
- Being the very best at what you do
Exercise 2: Write down the thing that make you stand out. Your unique selling points.
2. Your target market?
Be clear about who and where your potential customers are. If that’s clear you can:
- Ensure the look and feel of your site is appropriate; you don’t want it to look like CBBC’s if you are targeting local garage owners.
- If your target market is defined as those within a particular geographic area, e.g. Accountants in the Glasgow area; ensure that your website URL, headings, keywords, key phrases and so on include that area name. If I’m looking for someone to help me market my services in Glasgow then I’m more likely to type, ‘Glasgow Marketing Services’ into Google than just ‘Marketing Services’.
- Being clear about your target market will allow you to tailor your content, your offers and services to a specific group/sector/individual
- For example you can Blog about subjects of interest to your potential customers; this makes you look like ‘the expert’ in the area. if you can blog consistently and find ‘addictive’ subjects to blog about; people will continue to come back to your site to read your latest thoughts. Don’t use a formal ‘voice’ when you write your blog, be conversational.
- You can develop and demonstrate your expertise via your site content and publications you produce. For example you can write expert guides that you give away to encourage people to register for your mailing list.
- Customer testimonials should be by those in the same sector you are marketing to.
- Testimonials can also come from people who provide the same or similar services to you.. For example if you are a web developer and you are part of a friendly web developer network – you can exchange positive comments within your network. Even your peers think you are good!
- If you are sociable – encourage the development of a community of readers by regularly asking for their opinions and feedback. Always reply to people who add comments to your pages.
- If you have the resources and time, make videos and post these on your site. The subject could be anything as long as it is related to your subject area and relevant to the interests of your target market. For example you could create videos containing tips and tutorials related to your area of expertise.
- A quick way to get a sense of what content your site should contain and how it should be organised is to list and rank your main target group(s) and then list and rank the needs of those groups/potential clients, i.e. the needs that you will meet with your services. This helps ensure that the most important content is easiest to find.
If you have identified your target market to be time-starved small business owners and you run a virtual PA service, what would be the appropriate content for your website?
Clearly there will be the basic stuff; services you can provide; your rates, contact details etc. But there should also be content that is on there because you have a very clear idea of your target market.
Perhaps publications you have written? For example, you know small businesses are always worried about costs — so you could write some publications that address exactly that issue:
- “Why using a virtual PA can increase the turnover of even a one man/woman business? “
- “10 reasons business support from a virtual PA makes sense for small businesses?” Features about top tips are particular popular on the web.
- “Did you know a virtual assistant can save your business money?”
- You could have a calculator that demonstrates the return on investment when you use a virtual PA: e.g. your time is worth this amount per hour; but you can get a virtual PA for this amount per hour. Highlighting the ‘opportunity costs’ of the business owner doing everything themselves.
Exercise 3: Write down who your target market is and how you can ensure the content on your website is targeted at meeting their precise needs.
3. Build your credibility: a major job for your website
If you don’t look trustworthy; no-one will hang around long enough to give you their email address or purchase your services. Looking credible is central to the success or failure of your website.
How do you use you website to build credibility?
- Ensure any photographs of people on your site are real people who work in your business — not stock photos. Provide short biogs for you and/or your staff.
- Add logos of clients you have worked for — particularly those whom you deem to be important in the sector you work with.
- Take advantage of the idea of ‘social proof’; i.e. ways to demonstrate that other people care about and appreciate what you do.
- Add a Facebook ‘Like’ button to each of your pages
- Include testimonials from clients and from important figures in your industry.
- Add social media ‘likes’, Linked in testimonials, Twitter followers – up-to-date blog with comments.
- Show the Facebook ‘facepile’ of your community
- Use articles, news items your have featured in.
- Add good things people have said about you on Twitter (you don’t need permission to republish a Tweet):
Make good use of any review you have had
- 41% say they read 4 to 7 reviews before feeling comfortable about a purchase decision
- 63% are more likely to buy from a website with reviews and ratings
Exercise 4: Brainstorm ideas for content you can add to your website to demonstrate and build upon your credibility.
Ensure your website is professionally designed!
Visual design is very important: but website design is not about providing cool graphics; it’s about solving problems, usability, readability, accessibility – it is about standing out
There is a study titled “Trust and mistrust of online health sites.” In it 15 participants review health sites that they find via Google. 94% of the factors mentioned for mistrusting a website were design related.
When talking about trusting or mistrusting a site, design related issues were mentioned 15 times more than content issues.
Specific problems included:
- Boring web design, especially use of colour.
- Busy layout with too much text.
- Pop up advertisements.
- Poor navigation.
- An inappropriate name.
- Slow to load.
- Small print
- Corporate feel.
- Poor search facilities.
Poor design means people don’t hang around for long – which means they don’t buy-in to your service.
Good design = trust = more conversions = more money in your pocket
“As aesthetically orientated humans, we’re psychologically hardwired to trust beautiful people, and the same goes for websites. Our offline behaviour and inclinations translate to our online existence.” Dr. Brent Coker, who studied the impact of attractive websites on human behavior.
Attractive well designed websites look professional and inspire trust in site visitors. In short, design matters.
4. Attract new customers and keep existing customers
Attracting new customers: your website is the central hub of your sales funnel
Your marketing funnel is the system that draws people to your website and channels them towards your contact form or newsletter subscription form.
Encourage signups using:
- Landing pages: landing pages are pages that only consist of a powerful sales message (which could include a video) and a subscription form. Visitors choices are restricted to either leaving the site or signing up via the form. There are no other links on the page (i.e. no ‘about’, ‘home’, ‘our services’ and so on).
- Think of your social media pages as ‘the spokes’ of your marketing funnel – your website is the hub. In your social media profile text always provide a link to your site – with an incentive for people to click it (e.g. a free publication); the link goes straight to a page on your website with a signup form for your mailing list.
- You should have many ‘calls to action’ on your page. Ask people to get in touch (e.g. to take advantage of your current offer) at various points on the page; not just at the end.
- Use an online mailing list service such as Mailchimp to manage your subscription lists and newsletters. Integrate subscription forms in to your website. If you use WordPress there is a Mailchimp plugin that makes this easy.
- Use buttons rather than text links for form submit fields. This increases conversion.
- Keep existing customers; ‘front of mind marketing’
- Keep in touch with your existing customers and provide them with on-going fresh content on your website. Only by keeping in touch will you be the person who comes to mind when it is precisely your service that they need. If you are not in their mind at that point someone else will be.
Keeping in touch via a regular newsletter; that after all is why you attracted them to your site in the first place; so you could get them on your mailing list – and develop a long-term relationship, this allows you to demonstrate your expertise.
Marketing for services based businesses is all about building and maintaining relationships with customers.
The aim of your website is to get that relationship started; to do that you need a site that inspires trust. Ideally to the point where visitors are happy to register for your mailing list, email you or fill in your contact form.
If people visit but don’t get in touch then your website is not doing its job.
Or phone to talk over your ideas: 0141 576 9446.