Having a website that sells isn't just about having a "snappy" design, although that's a part of it. And it's not just about marketing your site effectively, although that's very important too.
It's also about ensuring that once people reach your page they want to stay for awhile. To do that, you need a combination of the following:
? a logical, informative, easy-to-navigate structure
? an attractive, professional design
? web copy that sells
? marketing strategies and elements in place to attract the right audience
In this article we'll go back to basics and discuss the fundamentals of developing an effective structure for your website. In future articles we'll go into detail on each point and walk you step-by-step through each of the points outlined here.
Many people fall into the trap of making their website simply an on-line brochure that includes selling information. In most situations, visitors to your site DON'T want to be sold.
Instead, they want information on your type of product or service. So ...
1. Add value. Add value. Add value.
The more value-added information you can include on your site, the warmer the relationship you will build with your prospect and the much greater the chances they'll visit your site again and again, refer their friends/colleagues to your site, and of course, buy from you. Make sense?
Here are just some of the types of information you can include on your website:
? Selection tips - how to select the right "widget" for your needs
? How to get the best performance from your product - operating instructions
? Different uses for your products including real life case studies which help your prospective customers get a "horse's mouth" feel for the benefits of owning your product.
? In-depth instructions on how to build something using a range of your products. For instance, if you owned a hardware chain you could include plans and instructions on how to build a pergola or a retaining wall. You could then list all the tools and other items a handyman needs to build it in a checklist type format. From there, the customer could go directly to a full description of each item and then a shopping cart.
? Frequently Asked Questions which help overcome the most common objections.
? Success stories and case studies which flag some of the tremendous successes clients have achieved. See "Imagine Getting Results Like These".
? Directory of useful links that relate to a prospect's needs. For instance, an accountant could include links to the ATO site, ASIC, ASX, BRW etc. etc.
For instance, on this site we include dozens of articles to help business professionals improve the effectiveness of their promotional material.
We do that because we love to give advice that helps people but also we're hoping to build a relationship with potential clients so they'll want to invest in our services down the track.
This philosophy of adding value stems back to the age-old, much coined saying "give generously and you will receive". For more information on this strategy see our article on the law of reciprocation.
Writing articles can be a tedious exercise but it's one that pays off handsomely in the end. Having said that, if you don't have the time to write your own articles you can source other people's articles to publish on your site without spending any money.
Many businesses write articles for their own site but also grant reprint rights so other sites can publish them in return for an acknowledgement and a link back to the author's site. If your organisation operates business-to-business (b-2-b) and you'd like to feature any of our articles on your site, just send me an email letting me know which articles you'd like to feature, and I'll be happy to discuss this opportunity with you.
2. Make it interactive
Naturally it makes sense to know who is visiting your site because you can then contact them to further build the relationship with them and to secure a sale. To do that you can offer:
? a free subscription to a weekly or monthly e-zine
? a "membership" that entitles them to certain privileges
? a FREE consultation
? Guest book - in theory this sounds like an effective way to capture emails. In reality you could find that it's very open to abuse by people wanting to post pointless messages. Also, there's no real benefit in signing a guest book.
? A discussion forum on the other hand provides people with the opportunity to interact with other members and also either post ideas or get advice. If you venture down this track, make sure you moderate the page before items are posted as again, this is open to abuse by your competitors and others who want to "play games".