My agency, Intechnic, has been creating websites since 1997. Over the years, however, I have seen many business websites underperform and ultimately fail. But why? Where are they going wrong?
In my experience, many business professionals simply fail to understand the most basic ingredients of a successful website. Because of their lack of experience, they make easily avoidable mistakes that often directly contribute to website failures. By correcting or avoiding the following 5 mistakes, you can turn your website around, leading to more sales, better customer experience and reduced costs.
Undefined Business Objectives
First, if your company’s website does not have a clearly defined purpose and mission, ask yourself: How can it succeed? Do you run your business without setting goals? Probably not, and yet many business owners make this critical mistake with their website.
To set objectives, I recommend using the SMART Model – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. This model guides you in setting website goals that are both strategic and aligned with your company’s business goals. An example of a good SMART website objective would be “to increase lead flow by 15 percent in 12 months by solving common pains of our customers and offering them unique value propositions.”
Poor User Experience
Research conducted by marketing automation service HubSpot reveals that when asked to identify the most important factor in a website, over 75 percent of respondents stated that ease of finding information ranks at the top. If important information is hard to find, content is too difficult to comprehend or your website is too cumbersome to use, you will not meet your website objectives and ultimately lose business.
Steve Krug’s First Law of Usability as described in his renowned book, Don’t Make Me Think!, is exactly that: Do not make your website visitors think too much. Your website should be intuitive to use. There should be no need for guesswork when navigating your website to find desired information.
One way to improve user experience is to conduct a simple test to uncover usability issues. Despite popular belief, testing does not have to be difficult or expensive: Simply recruit 5 participants who represent potential users and offer them an incentive to perform tasks or find information on your website in an observed environment. Ask them to think aloud while they poking around, note their behavior and listen to their feedback.
Good content is what sells and the success of your website is determined primarily by the quality of its content. All other components (design, visuals, videos, etc.) provide a supporting role to present the content in the most effective way. I cannot begin to tell you how many beautifully designed company websites we see that fail to communicate the obvious: what their company does and why anyone should care.
Website visitors today do not read, but instead scan. Succinct taglines are imperative in delivering your key messages. Make them specific, memorable and consistent throughout your website. Effective taglines should be customer-centric. They must focus in on the needs and wants of the customers. Keep in mind: How does your company help customers solve their problems? Why should your customers care? What value and proof points do you deliver?
Ineffective Calls to Action
A call to action (CTA) is what ultimately converts your website visitors into customers by urging them to take immediate action. A properly placed and worded CTA serves as an effective sales tool, and it will perform countless times better when compared to a common “Contact Us” link.
Effective CTAs work in tandem with your taglines. They act as the next logical step. They can boost your users’ confidence and alleviate risks and concerns (“free trial,” “no obligation,” etc.). What is more, they create a sense of urgency, encouraging your users to respond right away.
You should always strategically position your CTAs to stand out. They should be the most visible element on the page; I recommend reserving a specific color for your CTAs and only use that color where action is needed.
Asking for Too Much Too Early
Many websites fail to convert visitors into customers because they ask for too much too early: “register,” “call,” “buy.” If the action you want your visitors to take seems to be too large of a leap, give them something of value first. The Reciprocity Principle in social psychology upholds that, by giving before taking, one can gain trust and motivate engagement.
If you are asking for contact information, think of it as currency. People value and protect their contact information. No one gives you his or her phone number or email address unless they want something of value in return. Saying “we are so good at what we do” isn’t enough. You have to prove it.
To do so, give your visitors something of value: a whitepaper, a free sample or a consultation. This enables you to build trust and complete the exchange. Think of your content as a valuable product that your website visitor purchases using their currency, time, contact information and eventually business.
In effect, preventing these common mistakes will ensure your website captures leads, generates sales and keeps your business model competitive.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Image credit: CC by Alex_Graves