Lately I’ve had a fear that a lot of business owners don’t fully appreciate the value of their website. Most business people understand that a website is no longer optional, but many still approach it with a mindset of, “We have to have a website because our competition has one. Here, Mr. Developer, this is my company information, my staff roster, and a list of my products. Be sure to use our company colors. And put a contact page on it so people can get in touch with us.” Then they sit back with the expectation that their company name will rise on Google’s search results.
The biggest problem with this mindset is that our friend above sees having a website as a “necessary evil” rather than an amazing opportunity to establish a connection with his client base. He or she sees it as something that “has to be done” and therefore does the bare minimum to put the same basic information and layout as their competition. Sometimes a client will offer up a site that they admire and ask the developer to copy the layout or functionality of that site. He or she just wants to “get the job done” and move on to more important tasks in building the business.
Maybe you feel that way about your own website – that it’s just a small piece of your marketing puzzle and you have other things in which you should be investing your efforts. What I’d like to propose today is that your website is already one of your best investments, whether or not you realize it yet. With a little attention, your website can, in fact, become the lead generator you’ve secretly always wanted it to be. It can be a resource for topics related to your industry, and it can perform like an exceptional sales person. Heck, your website can even be a place that users come to just because they like being there!
How to Maximize Your Website’s Value
Believe it or not, these things are attainable for YOUR company’s website, provided that you pay attention to a few key areas. The most important element to understand when it comes to optimizing your website is your customer. And not just your customer, but how your customer uses the internet (and most importantly, your website) to get the information they want. For instance, do you know how long the average user stays on your “About” page? How about how many times that newsletter subscription button has been clicked in your sidebar? Understanding your user and their behavior on your website can really help you to emphasize the parts of your site that work, and trim away the parts that don’t. Fill that space with something that DOES work.
Once you know this very basic information about your website’s audience, and once you have given more attention and real estate to the parts of your site that justify your investment, you’re ready to set your site apart from those of your competition. That’s right – set yourself apart.
You’ve got a unique opportunity with your website to accomplish a number of goals, to position and brand your business in a way that goes much further than your investment. So, ask yourself this question: what do I want my website to do? Some possible answers might include:
I want my website to make money for me by selling my products or generating quality leads.
For most businesses, a website is doing its job when conversions are happening. The important thing to remember is that people who have never been to your website don’t know where it is you want them to go. Your website needs to be designed to direct users onto a specific path, with specific results or actions at the end of that path. Still, most users don’t enjoy the feeling of being “led,” so you have to carefully direct them while still giving them the sense of being in the driver’s seat. This is where effective and strategic web design can separate you from your competition.
I want my website to create a feeling or provide a specific user experience.
There is a saying: “People may not remember who you were or what you did, but they will always remember the way you made them feel.” Your website is no exception. A 2014 study by Mobile Behavioral Report showed that of 1000 users who participated, 91% considered it important to very important to have access to the content that THEY want, any way they want it. In that same study, 68% of participants thought it was important for companies to be considered a technology leader. If your business doesn’t place as much importance on the user experience of your website or stay up-to-date, your competition that DOES pay attention will have better results.
I want my website to position me/my company as an authority on…
This is where the quality of your content comes in. If you want to be considered an authority in your particular field, having blog articles on your site with content people want to read about is the name of the game. Again, understand what is important to your client base. What questions are they asking? Where do they go to get your information BESIDES your site? This is where your blog content comes from, and having this information available on your site is what’s going to keep people coming back.
Your website can really be all you want it to be. Paying attention to the points above can help you generate the leads and revenue you want it to while at the same time providing a pleasant user experience. At the end of the day, you want your potential client to recall your site as informative and easy to use, and you want them to return again and again. Great design and attention to detail will go a long way toward accomplishing this goal.