Building a Strong Business Website
There isn’t room in this short book for me to go through all the ins and outs of effective web design. I’ve already done that in another book, and the best practices in our industry are constantly changing.
With that in mind, what I want to outline in this chapter are the elements of your website that are crucial from a lead generation perspective. They serve as the foundation for your sales growth plan by giving you the right equipment for the job. If your sales funnel were a tractor that harvests new prospects each and every season, then your website is the ground they grow up from.
To put it another way, your sales funnel will never be as effective as it could be if you don’t have the basics of web design squared away. In fact, your lead generation campaigns might not work at all. So let’s take a look at some of the key ingredients of a strong business website you should pay particular attention to.
Clean and Clear Design
Ask a handful of web development experts to point out their favorite website layouts and you’ll notice it won’t take long before you see some contradictions and inconsistencies. A lot of this will come down to personal taste and artistic expression. In addition, what works for one company or situation might not be perfect for another.
Still, you will discover there is one principle of great design that comes through again and again almost without exception: a preference for pages that are clean and easy to look at. They have lots of white space, and never feel cluttered.
You want a website that allows the eye to move cleanly from one element to the next. Studies show that you only have around three seconds to impress a first-time visitor to your home page. So it’s crucial that they get an immediate sense of what your business is all about. The more concise your web presence is, the easier it is to convey that sense of purpose.
Speed and Stability
That three-second rule doesn’t just suggest a need for streamlined design. It also speaks to the necessity of speed, particularly when it comes to the wait for your pages to load.
Website speed and performance are topics businesspeople rarely think about, but they can mean the difference between a prospect spending time on your website and taking their attention elsewhere. That’s especially true if they are visiting you online through a phone or tablet, which more than half of all internet users are at any given moment.
There are two easy ways to speed up your website. The first is by investing in premium web hosting. For a few extra dollars a month, your content won’t just be stored on faster servers, but also backed up and better-protected from online threats.
The second way to speed up your website is to clean out extraneous code and optimize your site for mobile viewers. This has the beneficial side effect of reducing the odds your website will crash because of an outdated plug-in or function.
You can’t generate leads if no one sticks around your pages, so don’t overlook the importance of website performance.
Responsive Mobile Functionality
I have already mentioned that mobile web users make up more than half of all internet traffic. Industry experts think that number may climb to include two-thirds of web surfers within the next few years.
In truth, it’s probably fair to say that the exact figures aren’t that important. Any serious marketer or business owner should know by now that their customers are using mobile devices. Most of us interact with them on a daily basis. Even if a majority of your buyers are using traditional desktop or laptop computers to visit your website, they (or their influencers) might be doing initial research through mobile apps and browsers.
If you don’t maintain a mobile-friendly business website, you are essentially giving those customers to your competition. That’s because Google will virtually ignore your website if it isn’t geared to display correctly on smaller screens, and many of your customers will click away when they see you aren’t equipped to work with them.
A Usable Content Management System
There are many different opinions out there regarding the “best” content management system (CMS). Most web designers have their favorites, and a lot of clients come into the process preferring WordPress, HubSpot, Drupal, or whatever platform they have used in the past.
I’m not going to dig into the debate here because the answer you need depends a lot on what you’re trying to accomplish. What I will say, though, is that you definitely need a modern and functional CMS installed on your website. It will give you the flexibility you need to add and remove pages, visuals, and other marketing elements as you grow and adjust your sales funnel.
There is no such thing as a perfect marketing plan or campaign. However, you should always be improving. That’s only possible when you can log in to your CMS control panel and make minor changes on your own without having to talk to your web design vendor.
As with the discussion about CMS options, I don’t want to set any hard and fast rules about website layouts in this book. Still, two things need to be mentioned. The first is one I’ve already brought up, which is that you should prioritize a clean user interface. The second is to suggest you make your contact details and navigation bar easy to find and use.
In the case of your contact details, you should decide how it is you want a hot prospect to contact you. Would you prefer they reach out through the phone, via email, or using a form on your website? Perhaps you want to give them two or three options. Either way, you don’t want them to have to dig for this information. You might be amazed at how quickly conversions improve when prospects have easy options to get through to your team.
The need for easy navigation options works the same way. Many of the prospects who arrive on your website won’t immediately find the information or resource they need to answer their question. The faster they can get to where they are going, the more likely they are to hang around instead of visiting a competitor’s website.
Customization for Your Business
Think back to all the work you put into identifying your market and figuring out where your company fits into the mix. Does that come through on your website?
Personality and customization matter, especially when you’re trying to make a first impression on new prospects. You want them to not only get a sense of what your business is all about, but also to understand what makes you different than all the other companies they could work with.
Don’t forget that initial visit to your website is like an introduction and handshake for someone who doesn’t already know your business. You want to make the experience memorable and leave them thinking they would like to know more.
A Credible First Impression
I left this point for last, but it certainly isn’t the least important. That’s because it’s easy to ruin a potential sale if your website betrays a lack of credibility and professionalism.
In many instances, a new prospect is going to see your website long before they ever meet you, see your products, or read reviews about your products or services (if those other things ever happen at all). All they have to go on is the information that’s right in front of them. If what they see is a crowded web layout, content with obvious typos and grammatical errors, or grainy images that seem like they are designed to conceal details rather than share them, what do you think will happen next?
On the internet, your closest competitor is never farther than a mouse click away. If buyers see something on your website in the first few seconds that causes them to question your professionalism, you’ll probably lose the opportunity to win their business without ever knowing why.
A Great Website Is Only the Beginning
As I noted in the opening chapter, having a strong website and a knowledge of your target market are crucial cornerstones of your lead generation success. However, they aren’t enough to generate results. To turn your sales funnel into a source of new revenue, you have to keep feeding it fresh visitors on a continual basis.
In the next chapter, we are going to look at some ways you can attract qualified potential buyers to your website. That’s the first step toward turning them into real prospects you and your team can close later.
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