How many times have you visited a website and had to hunt around to determine what that site was about and who it was for? Maybe the site was boring and lifeless with nothing special to draw you in to it. I’d be willing to bet you didn’t stick around very long. In the ten years I’ve been a website design and marketing professional, I’ve been asked to provide SEO and other marketing services for websites that were developed by other professionals. Getting visitors to a website makes absolutely no sense if they won’t stick around and convert to leads and customers. Before you invest in marketing your website, determine whether you have an effective website design. Avoid the following three common mistakes that can dramatically compromise your results.
Mistake #1: No Clear Objective for the Visitor on A Web Page
Ask yourself what you want the visitor to do when they land on your web page? Do you want them to buy a product, join your mailing list or call you for a consultation? Keep in mind that a confused prospect seldom buys. If you are providing multiple choices and linking them all over the place, you are likely to lose that prospect forever. If your main objective is to capture qualified leads, consider providing a free and/or low risk incentive which they receive almost instantly when they fill out your form. The data in the form comes to you by email but is also captured in a database that allows you to stay in contact with that prospect through autoresponders and email marketing. Have your website design company make the fields for name, email and phone required in your form. Make your incentive and form the main focus on the page and include supporting information that encourages the visitor to act now. Supporting information should include benefits in a bulleted list, how you will solve their problem, how you are different, testimonials, FAQs that answer all objections and why they should trust you or your company. A time limited offer such as bonuses will encourage them to act right away. Always incorporate relevant keywords in your copy. Consider using multimedia such as video and audio to further enhance the effectiveness of your message. Combine this information with strong benefit-rich headlines, sub-headlines and formatting, and you will have a webpage that is ready to receive visitors – people who will stick around and become your loyal prospects and customers.
Mistake #2: Poorly Organized Website Navigation
Your website navigation is the framework for organizing your website content. It can significantly contribute to the length of a prospect’s visit and the number and quality of conversions. Recently I visited a website that had approximately 15 main level links in the navigation. Links to the multiple services provided were distributed randomly. Information about the company was at the bottom of the vertical menu bar. This was a site that had been developed by a professional website design company. I do not fault them completely because they clearly made no claims about marketing, copy writing or providing anything other than web design services. Not only was I feeling confused and overwhelmed by the navigation on this website, my development team had the same reaction.
Organization of the navigation is critical to enable the visitor to readily gain access to important information such as products and services (which is generally the main purpose of the website). Links to this information should be placed at the top of the menu bar, directly below company information (when that is important to include). When there are sub-menu pages, links to them should readily fly-out or emerge from a collapsible menu. All links should be named to quickly describe what they are, preferably including relevant keywords. Below the featured menu items (products and services) can be supportive information such as testimonials, our clients, press items, articles and links. Sections that might be set apart in a more prominent box below the main menu might include newsletter and photo gallery. I often create a supplemental menu for links to home, contact and other important but supplemental information such as portfolio and blog.
Whenever possible, I try to avoid three levels of navigation. An example is a main menu link to services and a sub-level menu with all of your services, each of which includes multiple pages. Let’s say you are a personal coach and you offer business coaching, life coaching and relationship coaching. Your main item might be coaching services which links to each of these three submenu items. Perhaps you also provide a variety of business coaching services such as leadership, time management and budgeting which you want to include as a third level sub menu. Color coding the items so that the visitor on a sub menu page can tell from a color that budgeting, business coaching and coaching services are all connected, will help prevent the visitor from experiencing confusion and getting lost in your website. Some of the best website designs use color coding as a strategy for effectively organizing complex content.
Mistake #3: Missing the Emotional Component
People respond to any type of advertising based on emotions. They respond when they are interrupted by something of interest that clearly relates to them. They are drawn in through an emotional message that educates, answers objections and provides a low-risk offer. The emotional component is what facilitates this process.
The best website designs get inside the head and heart of the ideal visitor. Work with your website design company to create a profile of your perfect customer. Describe who that person is – their gender, education, socio-economic level, interests, problems, etc. Once you capture the essence of this person, you will gain a sense of what they want and how you can engage them in your message. Pictures and testimonials that show benefits received through your products and/or services is likely to be particularly effective. This is where a video or flash presentation can be extremely advantageous.
Let’s look at an example. If I am selling an anti-aging skin care product, my ideal customer is a middle aged woman who is middle to upper middle class so that she can afford my product. She is also concerned about her appearance and is willing to invest in products and services that allow her to regain a youthful appearance which will lead to a happier life. To sell my product effectively, I want to show this woman customer compelling before and after pictures and how looking better will translate into a better self-image, improved relationships and expanded opportunities for a better quality of life. I want to reveal testimonials of women just like her and how they experienced life altering benefits through my product. All of this is achieved through the integrating of a strong emotional component.