Your website is not just a billboard: how to fix it and stop missing out on customers.
There is one big issue that almost every business owner misses about their website. I’ve seen it again and again as I’ve worked with clients, and I’m sure I’ll continue seeing it for years to come. If you fix this, you’ll already set your website on a good track, and you’ll have saved thousands of dollars from not hiring a web consultant like me.
A lot of clients that I talk to describe a website that’s sort of like a billboard. A website is not a billboard.
Almost everyone I talk to knows “the basics:”
- The business name and logo
- Contact information and address
- The main business slogan or motto
These elements come up in every discovery meeting with every client, because they are the most basic elements that go on a website. Yes, your contact info is important. Your motto matters. It’s a no-brainer to put these on your website. But that’s not your finish line!
You’d be surprised at how many websites stop there. Everything else on the page is fluff. The blog? Not updated. The contact form? Good luck getting a reply. The social media channels? Well, they use outdated icons (visitors notice this!), and plus there are never any new posts. The about page? It doesn’t even reflect your current staff at the store.
So, here’s some free advice on how you can fix this problem:
Almost every website has no clue what it’s saying.
If you develop a cohesive message, you’ll blow away your competitors. Trust me! I’ve been doing this for ten years. I’ve looked at the websites for dozens and dozens of local small businesses, churches, and entrepreneurs. Many, many websites are failing at this!
If you stop with the basics, you’re missing out on so many of a website’s advantages. You are leaving potential customers and potential sales on the table. With the web, we can inject dynamic information, build pages of varying lengths, and deliver it all to people in their pockets. A billboard with a slogan and some contact info is nice, but it’s throwing away so much of what the web has to offer!
In future posts, we’ll look at specifics of improving your content; let’s just look at the big picture for now.
Why the “billboard” problem matters.
It’s all about who’s visiting your website. It’s not for everyone – and trying to keep the content general is not effective. You’ll lose people who are interested in your business because you’re attempting to reach people who aren’t interested in your business.
We’ll talk about ways you can expand your reach beyond a local audience in coming weeks. But for now, let’s stay super basic. You’re not catering to the whole faceless, shapeless web. You’re catering to the people around you, who might set foot in your store.
Most business websites fail to drive traffic because their content is too general and unfocused.
What are you saying with your website? If you figure out who your website is for, you can rewrite every single sentence on your website to appeal to that person. What we’re trying to do is isolate the kind of person who would be grabbed by your business.
This principle might seem drop-dead simple: in fact, when I first learned it I dismissed it. But tuning your content to appeal to specific visitors is what I call audience optimization: you’re making your website appeal most to the people who are already most inclined to buy your products.
Let’s return to our donut shop for a minute. First, let’s think of our ideal customer, and some considerations we should apply. We’re going to target someone who:
- Has some disposable income (donuts are a luxury)
- Is young, and not worried about health drawbacks
- Lives or works near our store
- Has a bit of a sweet tooth
We’ll call this potential client “Andrew” (hey!). Now we have a filter for every piece of content we put on the website: “Will this content attract Andrew?”
Why audience optimization works: how rethinking content actually drives more traffic
“What if I just want people to find my address on Google searches, and come visit my business?” It’s fine to feel this way. After all, you’re not a web designer, and your goal is foot traffic in your store. But an address is only an address. You haven’t given visitors any reason to obey their impulse, use the address, and come down to the store.
Now picture a website where all the content supporting the address (your main business goal) also pushes the visitor to your shop. You now have a guide when creating content. Instead of stabbing in the dark, we can make concrete decisions. Based on our “Andrew” persona, we tune the content so that he will be convinced by our donuts, use the address, and come buy a dozen.
Do you see the difference? Instead of thinking about the abstract “what belongs on a website,” we now have a compass to make content decisions by. The donut shop’s targeted content seals the deal for interested visitors.
Next week, we’ll get a little more in the weeds: what should the main call to action be on your website?