You’ve had a website now for a few years and you’re pretty happy with it. Your site lists your products and services in some detail. It lists the brand names you carry. It even has a corporate history with bios of your staff.You’re pleased that when someone Googles your product and your city, your company, shows up in the top three positions of the search. Not bad.
But what happens when someone lands on your Home Page? Will he quickly, and I mean quickly, know how to navigate to exactly what he is looking for?
If your visitor is a business buyer, will he see a page focused on your private customers? Or if your visitor is looking for an upscale product, will she see a page screaming “bargain basement”? Maybe your visitor is just looking for a tip on how to care for a related product. Will your Home Page dispatch him to the information he’s looking for?
How many times have you left a site when, after two or three clicks, you weren’t finding exactly what you wanted?
Website marketing is very different from print advertising. With print advertising you don’t have to figure out how a particular magazine or newspaper “works.” They all work the same. But every Web site works a little differently. The navigation tools can be at the top, bottom, or sides of the screen. The architecture may be simple or complex. Your visitor has a learning curve before he can get to your information.
Your site had better make that task take seconds!
The positive thing about web marketing is that the visitor landing on your page is focused. Unlike thumbing through a magazine and happening upon your ad, your web visitor is specifically looking for what you have to offer. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that website marketing is challenging and many businesses are doing it poorly. Most companies are satisfied to hire a web designer and get their products up on a site with maybe a contact form. For written content (copy), they use hastily written copy. Often they simply lift copy straight from their brochures, ads, and other collateral.
These materials may provide useful background information for the copywriter, but your Home Page and each of your webpages need to have least one actionable item for your visitor to do at the end of the page. Every word should be directed toward getting your visitor to take action, even if it’s only to click to another page.
Space doesn’t permit me to describe the process of properly creating the content for webpages, but essentially it involves studying your site’s analytics: Who visits your pages? How did they find it? How long did they stay on particular pages? What pages do they exit from? Which pages are most popular? And that’s just to start!
As you examine these data, you will be able to specify precisely how to guide your visitor through your pages. Your goal is to give him the specific information he needs, while building his trust that you are the go-to company for your product or services.
Since you aren’t right in front of your visitor personally, you have to convey your business through your webpages. They need to be helpful. The good part is that you have all the space you need to do the job. You can build a page with helpful tips related to what your product or service does. Or a page about maintaining the product. Whatever you decide your visitors are looking for, you can build a page just to suit them. You simply cannot do that with traditional advertising.
Once you begin writing the copy, make it easy to scan. Sentences and paragraphs should be brief, but if you do have something long, it should be broken up with headings, subheads, and bullets. The visitor should be able to scroll down the page and quickly see if you are addressing his specific needs.
By making your visitor confident that you have what he is looking for and answering all of his questions — eliminating hesitation and fear — you will reassure him that you are the one he should buy from.
(© 2011 Katherine Andes)