I talk with a lot of CEOs and other executives, and there is a common thread to all these conversations. Why isn’t my site as effective as it once was? It’s a simple question, but effectively answering it requires a little unpacking.
To start, what is effectiveness when it comes to a website? In terms of search engine marketing, it could mean ranking well for businesses-specific keywords and locations. For marketing, it could be a logical, powerful user-experience that efficiently funnels visitors where they need to be, or a sleek, modern website that inspires confidence and trust in your brand. But overall, website effectiveness in the rough and tumble, black and white, give-me-the-facts world of B2B means generating leads in phone calls or form submissions and generation of a steadily increasing number of online sales.
Trying to meet all these goals at once can be hard. Diagnosing the problems of your existing site – while keeping in mind your overall goals – can help you create a roadmap for a more successful site.
Common Website Mistakes, Traps and Pitfalls
There are some specific and common traps that websites fall into that lead to the general feeling of ineffectiveness. Before going a bit more in depth on how to make your site more effective, here they are, briefly outlined.
- Your website’s messaging and images are not aligned with any/the right buyer persona. You should have specific buyer personas in mind when you craft your messaging and choose images and graphics.
- The calls to action are ineffective. You want visitors to sign up for a mailing list, request a quote, or purchase something, but the text and layout you use is inefficient.
- The imagery is made up of mostly stock photos. While stock photos are an easy, professional solution for web images, they make your site look generic and the same as everyone else’s.
- Your website’s content is bad. There’s necessary content – specs, prices, things like that – and then there’s unnecessary content: pointless FAQs, pages upon pages that have the same layout and only minor differences, old or irrelevant information, etc.
- Your site has a slow load time. It may be due to how it was coded, you may have a lot of plugins or fancy stuff going on, or it could be your hosting. In any case, a slow load time is bad.
- The layout is not responsive. These days, mobile traffic is growing like crazy. If you don’t have a separate mobile site, or perhaps better, one site with a responsive layout, you’re in for a bad time.
Making Your Website More Effective
In order, here are some common solutions to the above problems.
- Get your company stakeholders involved and map out your buyer personas. Figure out who are the people important to your company during the buying process, and then examine their motives, fears, and aspirations. Craft the relevant pieces of messaging and imagery to those personas.
- Make your calls to action prominent on the page! Having a less than visible, ill-conceived call to action – or even none at all – is like ending a sales call without attempting to close. A good call to action speaks directly to your visitor’s needs (you figured that out by creating a persona, right?) and is clear about the offer and the ask. That is, it offers something of value (a product, an e-book, a whitepaper, etc.) and has direct, optimized copy to go along with eye-catching graphics.
- The stock photo problem is easy to fix: hire a professional photographer to create product shots and take executive portraits. For general imagery, license work from a source like Getty Images or other high quality online repositories. It may add cost, but you’ll reap the value of having distinct imagery that can sell your services and tell a real story. It’s worth it to differentiate you from your competition.
- Website content merits its own blog post, but in brief, here are some tips. The first and last piece of advice is make your content high quality, but that’s easier said than done. You should value clarity and concision over verbiage. Make it simple to understand what your company is about and how your site is a solution for the visitor’s problem. It should be easy to scan, using bullet points, formatting, and design. What content you offer should be industry specific, adding value to its body of work. Case studies, white papers, and testimonials should be objectively useful – not just fluff. It’s easy to tell pretty quickly whether a website is there to waste your time.
- Load time is now an important factor for your site’s search engine ranking. You can get that load time down by optimizing and compressing the site’s images, eliminating unnecessary plugins and pieces of code, and compressing the CSS files. You can analyze your site’s loading speed with this Google tool.
- Responsive design is a fairly new trend on the web. I’ve covered it before – Responsive Design Vs. Separate Mobile Website, but in a nutshell, responsive design is a way your website can be coded to adapt to different screen sizes like a laptop, tablet, and smartphone. It makes it so visitors can get the most out of your site, no matter what device they’re using. It’s important because while desktop traffic growth is somewhat stagnant, mobile web traffic is growing at a fast rate. It signifies that your site is modern and some care has gone into it.
Clearly, there are many ways a site can be optimized to perform better. These points are some low-hanging fruit or starting points if you’re looking at a site redesign. You can dive deep into things like information architecture, A/B testing site layouts, website applications and tools, live chat options, and much more.
Finally, when evaluating your site, you should be aware of your expectations. Every day, we see tons and tons of websites. New websites, revamped websites, updates to social network sites, everything. Chances are, when you may have last updated your site, you had never seen the cool, whizzy stuff that even exists today. This raises the bar for everyone.
Recognizing your site can use some help is the first step to having an awesome new site.