At last you’ve launched your new website and it feels good.
It’s been a long journey full of frustrations, setbacks, expense, late nights and long weekends but it’s done now and looks beautiful.
Your new business is open to the online world. Now what?
As the days and weeks go by it can all start to feel like a bit of a ‘damp squib’.
- Where are all your new customers?
- Why is no one buying anything?
- Why are enquiries coming in at a snails pace?
The truth is that most small businesses and entrepreneurs make the same but critical online mistakes. We have simply been agonising over the wrong things.
Yes, the site is beautifully designed, yes, the products look good and yes, the copy is well written with the spelling painstakingly checked. However, all of this means nothing if you are not connecting with your customers.
Of course these are all important tasks that have to be done correctly but they alone will not bring in the revenue.
Here are six of the most important website mistakes I have made over the years and how to overcome them.
Mistake 1: Customer confusion
We think our customers know what it is we are trying to sell them but it may surprise you to know that they more often don’t.
We know all there is to know about our product or service and because of that we assume everyone else will understand it too.
It’s a simple fact that most of us are too close to what we offer. We become blind to the vague mixed messages, over detailed explanations and confusing language that we use.
Clever headlines and cryptic captions only add to the customer confusion.
A total stranger should be able to tell exactly what your business is and how it can benefit them within the first 5 – 10 seconds on the homepage of your site.
Keep it simple and keep it succinct. Craft a clear short description, clear of jargon, hyperbole and unnecessary detail.
The ask a complete stranger who knows nothing of your business to spend no more than 5 -15 seconds on your homepage and then close their browser tab.
Next, ask them what they think your business is about and how your product or service could help them.
Mistake 2: Losing focus
It is all too easy to get distracted by the latest web plugin, survey app, design theme or marketing strategy. There is always so much to do and so little time in which to do it.
Our attention becomes over stretched, our ‘to do’ lists too long and our resources spread too thin, resulting in wasted time and effort on the wrong priorities.
Remember why you are doing this in the first place! It is to earn a living, to spread the word and to help others with whatever your new service or product offers them.
That is your priority. Everything else is there to support this mission.
Mistake 3: Too much of too much
Don’t over-explain every little detail of your product and service. Keep it succinct. Apparently, visitors to your website will only read 20-28 percent of the content (if you’re lucky). Make sure your readers get the key benefits at the outset and not three paragraphs in.
Your audience is usually in a hurry and their time is precious. People don’t read website text, they scan it. They will not read long paragraphs, no matter how beautifully they have been crafted.
Take a deep breath and be brutal with your text. Don’t let personal feelings get in the way.
Use 3 line paragraphs, use big headings and subheads. Use indents for quotes, keep your text size big with plenty of line space.
Mistake 4: You’re not connecting with your customer
To be able to successfully connect with your customer you first need to understand them.
‘Until you understand your audience you won’t understand your audience’.
Once you understand what your audience is looking for and why, you then know how to talk to them.
Every visitor to your website is looking for an answer to a problem they need to solve or and issue they need to fix.
For example; say you are a relationships counsellor or coach. You understand that visitors to your site may be feeling vulnerable, full of self-doubt and uncertainty, in search of reassurance and they need to trust that you will be able to make a powerful and lasting connection with them.
If you can tap into the mindset of your customer right there on the homepage of your website, you will instantly have their attention because they recognize that you understand their problem and you have the solution to their needs, whatever they may be.
Marketing hype might bring customers to your website but if you can’t connect in any meaningful way they won’t stay for long.
Don’t think of your audience as ‘type A’ or ‘type B’. Don’t use jargon words like ‘avatar’ when building a profile of your potential customer.
Remember they are real people with real issues. Look at your website through their eyes.
The key is to inspire them not just to describe what you do. And when it comes to your homepage ‘less is, without a doubt, more’ so you need a ‘killer’ headline.
Mistake 5: Targeting the wrong customers
As a brand you cannot be all things to all people. An audience of ‘everyone’ is not a strategy for success – it is a recipe for failure.
Try to appeal to everyone and you risk connecting with no one.
Positioning involves making tough choices, it means being brutally honest with yourself.
Content is not king (it never has been) usefulness is. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE and create content that speaks to them.
Mistake 6: You’ve got no proof!
Customers don’t like taking risks and they don’t believe what YOU say, but they do believe what others say about you and your products.
Today websites must use social media to connect, engage, reinforce and support their brand story by highlighting what their customers are saying about them.
‘When we care, we share’
I came across a couple of statistics recently in regards the power of social proof.
- 70% of Americans say they look at product reviews and online recommendations before making a purchase.
- Some 65% of consumers said they were much more likely to make a purchase from a website that had product current reviews and ratings.
- Positive consumer reviews are more likely to convince a customer to buy than a product discount.
- According to a Nielsen survey, 92% of people trust peer recommendations, and 70% of people trust a recommendation from a complete stranger.
“When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.” – Eric Hoffer
Remember: When you say it is, it’s marketing. When others say it is, it’s social proof.
Sprinkle testimonials across your site, a few at a time. DON’T have a testimonials page.