Does Your Web Site Need to be Fired?

If your website was one of your sales staff would you be happy with his results? A good website design should deliver you quality leads and generate a return on your investment – not just than just sit there and look good.

Remember that website design is a marketing activity not a technology decision. So many people seek out a web developer as their first port of call when they need a website. But that’s putting the cart before the horse.

Your first activity when contemplating a website should be to think about your marketing objectives and what job you need your website to do for you.

To do that let’s revisit the sales person analogy. If your website was a sales person what should its sales process be? How will it get customers to engage with them and your company. Thinking about this analogy forces you consider what information and functions your website needs to get you real sales results.

For a start, You need to arm your ‘online salesperson’ with information to they can appear knowledgeable about the benefits of your products and services. He needs to be able to succinctly articulate what your unique selling proposition is.

You need your salesperson to acknowledge that customers are different stages of their buying process and therefore have different informational needs. For example, provide product comparisons for people who haven’t yet decided on the right product, but also provide in depth product information for those who are further advanced in their decision process.

You need people to trust your online salesperson too – so consider what do you need to do or say on your website to engender trust. Even the aesthetics of your website can contribute to trust. A shabby looking website from 1992 isn’t going to help your image.

Not everyone will buy or engage on their first visit. Your online salesperson needs to provide a reason for the customer to come back. Constantly updated content gives people reason to return. Make sure your website is a worthy destination. A website that never changes is like a retail store that doesn’t change their window display. It makes people think they’ve already seen everything you have to offer and they won’t bother to come in.

At some stage in the process, your ‘online salesperson’ needs to ask the customer’s name and contact details. To do this, you usually need to give them the promise of something in return (eg. early notification of specials, a free assessment). This is a critical point in your sales process. Now your visitor isn’t anonymous – he has a name and you know how to contact him and have permission to do so. At this point, you can call them an actual ‘lead’. Yippee.

Once your online sales person has promised something they have to deliver. They need to follow up on their promise. If you promised email notifications of sales, make sure you do it. Take every opportunity to re-engage with them. That means more opportunities to communicate with your customers and ultimately make sales.

If you actually want to sell your products online, at some point you need to facilitate the sale. Online shopping cart facilities make this easy. Design your sales process so that it provides a good shopping experience. No-one likes waiting in a checkout queue and similarly online shoppers don’t like clunky purchase processes.

So when you’re ready for a new website – remember, the brief to your web designer should read more like a job description than a shopping list.

Jane Davies is founder and Director of Cat and Moose Marketing Solutions and specialises in online marketing in Brisbane. The core philosophy is to create and design websites that deliver real marketing results rather than just sit there and look good.

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