A potential client recently came to me with an existing site. It certainly was slick: the homepage featured a Flash animation of telegenic young professionals culled from a stock photo service, psuedo-jazz techno music, and words sweeping in from all sides selling you the company’s service. Unfortunately the page had no useful content, no call-to-action and no Google PageRank. It was an expensive design, but I didn’t need to look at the tracking stats to know no one came this page.
So you’re ready to ditch a non-performing site for one more dynamic, something that will attract customers and interact with them. Here’s five tips for building a self-marketing website!
One: Useful Content for your Target Audience
Give visitors a reason to come to the site. Text-rich, changing content is essential. In practicality, this means installing a blog and writing posts every few weeks. You’ll see measures like “keyword relevancy” increase instantly as excerpted text shows up on the homepage. Add videos and photos if your company or team has that expertise, but remember: when it comes to search, text is king.
Two: Give away something valuable or useful
Many smart marketing sites feature some free giveaway right on the homepage: a useful quiz, professional analysis, a PDF how-to guidebook. A builder I worked with went to the trouble of posting dozens of floor plans & pictures to their website and compiling them into a PDF book, which they gave away for free. The catch in all this? You have to give your contact information to get it. Once the free material has been compiled, the site runs itself as a sales lead generator!
Three: Ask yourself the Three User Questions!
It’s amazing how focused the mind gets when you actually sit down to define goals. Just about every website can benefit from this three-step exercise:
- Who is the target audience?
- What would draw them to the site?
- What do we want to get from them?
Get a group together to through your website page by page these questions. Brainstorm a list of changes you could make. You’ll want to end up with Defined Goals: what quantifiable actions do you want visitors to take? It might well just be the successful completion of a contact form.
Four: Test Test and Test Again
Many small businesses now get a lot of their customers from their websites. Your website is an essential piece of your marketing and publicity and you need to be smart about it. Compile together your favorite site-improvement ideas and make up alternate designs incorporating the changes. Then use a tool such as Google Website Optimizer to put the alternatives through their paces. Which one “converts” better, i.e., which design gets you higher percentages in the Defined Goals you’ve set? Once you’ve finished a test, move on to the next brainstorming idea and implement it. Always be testing!
An extensive series of tests of one site I worked on doubled it’s conversion rate: imagine your company doubling its internet sales? It is completely worth spending the time and effort to go through this process.
Five: Don’t Be Afraid to Get Professional Help
If you need to hire a professional to help you through this process you’ll almost certainly get your money’s worth! A recent projects cost the customer $6000 but I was able to document savings of $100,000 per year in his publicity costs! See my piece “What to Look For in SEO Consultants” for my insider-advice to how to pick a honest and competent professional web publicity consultant.