Today’s inbox had an email with the subject “If your website sucks it’s hard to sell.” A provocative subject line is designed to get the email read, and this one did it’s job.
The email promotes a free webinar: How to Create a Website That Sells (sign up – it’s presented by Jill Konrath and HubSpot – you can’t go wrong) and the content lived up to my expectations: “Lousy website bad. Good website good”.
Internet marketing success is what now?
But, I got to thinking: How many people confuse design with function? After all, a website can look good and still essentially do nothing for your company. Why would an nicely designed (as in pretty) site end up on page 40 of a search result while a less “designed” site can rise to the top? Attractive design is great but it doesn’t guarantee getting found or converting leads (and, once found, visitors won’t care about you if you have nothing to offer them). Looks can be deceiving.
First things first: visitors won’t get the opportunity to not care about you if they never find you in the first place. A website needs to be optimized to get found, and must have value to the visitor once they arrive. Otherwise, it’s like leaving behind a blank brochure.
So if a website or blog is not a glorified on-line brochure – where you get to tell the world that your company is the bestest of the best – what’s the point of having one?
If its purpose is to attract visitors and generate leads, then your site needs to be a resource that answers questions and solves problems. It can’t contain endless blabbage about you, your company, your company’s vision, lists of products, and other self-promoting content. Your online presence is a service to your current and future customers; they have little time and zero interest in reading your mission statement.
Internet Marketing 101
If you’re not sure if your site is easy to find or whether it has value to your audience, there are three very simple checks you can do yourself. No design skills, SEO (search engine optimization) courses, or marketing chops are required.
- FutureNow provides two calculators that will let you know if you spend more time navel-gazing than addressing your visitors’ needs. Test your copy, or test your customer focus. These are your WeWe scores. Your scores can reveal if your site is the equivalent of a blank brochure.
- Look at your page titles (those tabs at the top of the browser when you select a page or click on a menu item). Each page title must be specific and unique. If you see your company name on each tab, your site has not been optimized – if visitors are going to find you by your company name, they already know you. Don’t waste that valuable space! If page titles don’t use terms your visitors will search by, the site is a blank brochure.
- What do you have to offer? Do you have reports, case studies, whitepapers, videos, or some other valuable, relevant content that can help your visitor? Your site is one of many, many online marketing solutions available to your visitors. Your content should give them a reason to stick around and entice them to return.
Invest in results, not empty promises
Not all web designers understand these principals; some believe the job is done if the site looks good in their portfolio. Now that you know what to look for, it’s easy to tell the difference between form and function. There’s no reason you can’t have both, but the priority to attract and keep visitors.
Certainly, there are great reasons to work with a designer who specializes in design, as long as s/he works with a content marketing specialist who can attract buyers and showcase your expertise. Ultimately, it’s up to you to make sure your website is more than a pretty face.