What’s one of the first things you do when you want to learn more about a new store that opened in town or to research a financial professional a friend recommended?
If you’re like me, you go in search of a website. Today of course most people realize that whether they’re running a business, operating a professional practice, selling their product, promoting their book or building their brand, they need an effective website.
But, yes, even today I encounter people who don’t have a website, or confuse being on a website, e.g., Amazon.com or LinkedIn, with having their own. I find this as amazing as you probably do, but it’s what inspired me to broach that subject this week.
A well-designed, well-organized website is essential and can accomplish a lot for you. It can build an incredibly valuable database of people who are interested in you, so you can interact with them directly and stay in front of them on an ongoing basis. It can help you tell people what sets you apart from your competitors. It can increase sales by making it convenient for people to buy when they’re ready.
But to get a topnotch website that will reflect well on you and your brand, I recommend hiring a professional web developer/designer. An amateurish look will send potential clients or customers scurrying away, perhaps never to return.
You should understand the components of a good website so you can evaluate the work of designers you’re considering, and so you can talk with your designer about what you want.
With that in mind, let me share just a few basic components that we too often find are either missing or are poorly executed:
- Your bio. Yes, you’ll want to introduce yourself to the visitors to your website, telling them a little bit about who you are and what makes you tick. On the home page they should be able to quickly spot an “About (your name)” tab that they can click on. It’s important the bio tells your story. It should highlight your credentials, define what your purpose is (relevant to your business, profession, product, book, etc.), and explain what makes you an expert. This should be done in an engaging way, and not just read like a resume of the schools you attended or degrees you’ve attained. Keep it as concise as possible, but answer all of the questions prospective buyers or clients are likely to ask about why they should do business with you. If you’re associated with any immediately recognizable names, whether they’re famous people, major corporations, prestigious schools or other well-known institutions, use them!
- A blog, or other valuable content, that is renewed regularly. Every day, people use search engines such as Google to track down information. By regularly creating new content, you’ll improve the chances that your website is where people end up when they search for a topic. Posting new content on a variety of subjects related to your topic also increases the chances your site will show up in different types of searches. Fresh content also illustrates your knowledge as an expert and if written in an engaging way, gives visitors a reason to keep coming back to your site!
- A mechanism for capturing visitors’ contact information. You’ve successfully attracted visitors to your website! Great! But now you want to stay in touch with them in meaningful ways. How can you do that? One possibility is to offer a free download of valuable, useful information. Post your offer “above the fold” (i.e. somewhere in the very first screen view of your site) and ask people to sign up for the download by providing their email addresses. You might offer email alerts about events, weekly tips, or an automatic sign-up to your blog or newsletter. Contests and other giveaways are also great ways to get visitors to share more about themselves.
Let me add one more vital point. If you’re interviewed by a newspaper or magazine, make a TV appearance, or are the guest on talk radio, proudly share it for website visitors to see. It establishes your credibility as an expert. It’s a good idea to create a special “In the News” page that’s easily accessible from your home page.
Think of your website as your storefront. If it’s done well with a good design and great copy that communicates your message, there’s a stronger likelihood those visitors who are just passing through will become buyers or clients.
Happy web weaving!
P.S. If you need professional help in gaining publicity for your brand, give us a call at 727-443-7115 ext. 215.
Marsha Friedman launched EMS Incorporated in 1990. Her firm represents corporations and experts in a wide array of fields such as business, health, food, lifestyle, politics, finance, law, sports and entertainment. She consults individuals and businesses on a daily basis and is frequently asked to speak at conferences about how to harness the power of publicity.