I’ve been in the business of helping entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses plan and create their websites for quite a few years. During that time, I’ve found that most have no idea how to plan a site the right way.
That may seem kind of harsh but, it’s true nonetheless. Most of the time, your website is the first thing that your potential customers look at. So, it’s important that it makes a great first impression.
Now, you may be wondering – how in the world do you do that? Well, it’s not as hard as you may think. To plan a great website, simply work backward. This is easily accomplished when you truthfully answer the following 5 questions:
How do you plan on getting people to your site?
In other words, which marketing techniques will you use to tantalize and attract those in your target demographic? Will you be using PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), PR (Public Relations), or social media? What about a combination of methods?
In my opinion, the best marketing technique for your particular venture is the one with the lowest cost-per-acquisition. In other words, the one that costs the least in terms of getting you new customers. Getting that, idea about the direction you want to go in is very important because it will help you answer the questions below.
Who’s coming to your site?
No matter who the members of your target demographic are, your website should be able to help them find what they are looking for quickly and easily. Within a couple seconds of landing on your site, your visitors should know exactly what they must do next. Should they sign up? Do they need to click a link to get more information? How can they make a purchase? Once you have an idea of who’s coming to your site, you will be able to decide what they should do once they arrive.
In my opinion, your goal shouldn’t be to please everyone. Yet still, everything should be clearly laid out to help visitors (no matter who they are) get to where they need to go. If you try to please too many people at once, your website will be hard for anyone to navigate. Instead, place your focus on a couple of key features that the majority of your customers will benefit from.
What questions will they have?
Can this site help me? Do you have the experience I need? How many years have you been in business? Are your prices too high for my budget? Is your product any good? What kind of services do you offer? Can you help me with my specific situation? How do I get in touch with you? How can I get more information about your company, services, and/or products?
In my opinion, you should answer as many of the above questions as possible. In fact, your visitors shouldn’t even have to ask them. For instance, if they are coming to your site to purchase a popular product of yours, make sure that this item can be easily located. This will make sure that your visitors know that they are indeed in the right place. Short and sweet messages work best.
What do you want your visitors to do when they get to your site?
Should they email you? Subscribe to your newsletter? Call you? Buy your product? Hire you to perform a service? The best websites have the ability to guide visitors to where they want them to go. If you are selling something, convince your visitors to spend their money and make it simple for them to do so. If your business is service-oriented, give them information that details how they can benefit from hiring you.
In my opinion, your best bet is to keep things concise and clear. Your goal shouldn’t be to make your visitors think. You should’ve already done all the thinking for them.
How will your visitors keep in touch with you?
The sad truth is that the majority of people who visit your site won’t actually spend any money with you. In fact, the average online conversion rate falls somewhere around 1%. In other words, you can fully expect that only 1 out of 100 of your site’s visitors will actually end up signing up for your newsletter, contacting you, or spending money on your service or products.
To make things easier for those wonderful people, do your research and find out how they prefer to keep in touch. It doesn’t matter if it’s through a blog, email, Linkedin, RSS Feeds, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc. Once you’ve got the answer to this question, provide those means for them.
In my opinion, it’s important that you keep engaging with your potential customers, don’t count them out just yet. You won’t be able to convert the majority of people on their very first site visit. But, it doesn’t mean you can’t captivate them the second or even the third time around.
Hold their interest by catering to the method they use to stay in contact the most. For instance, if your ideal customer is an entry-level professional that’s always on social media, make sure that you build your social media presence and provide them with plenty of reasons to go back to your site. When you engage your visitors, you give them incentives to return, take action (whether it’s to make a purchase or subscribe to your newsletter) and hopefully convince their network to follow suit.