I’m online for much of my business day, which means I get to visit many, many websites in the process of helping my clients learn how they get more clients online. I’m also asked to provide feedback about the effectiveness of websites, and as I specialize in working with owners of service businesses, I see several common website mistakes made over and over again by service companies.
If you want to get more clients from your website, here are 10 mistakes to avoid:
1. Business appearance as a nameless, faceless corporate entity. I just want to scream when I can’t find any information on the person/people behind a company, and my preference is to be able to have a visual representation (photo) of the people with whom I’m about to do business. One of the key components to your success as the owner of a service business should be the quality of service you personally provide, whether you’re a chiropractor, website designer, pest exterminator, accountant, or printer. People don’t do business with business cards or websites — people do business with other people. How can someone get to know, like, respect and trust you in order to decide to do business with you when they can’t peer behind the corporate image? I realize many smaller business firms employ this strategy to appear bigger than they actually are to their client base, but I prefer being able to pick up the phone or drop an email to someone I personally know within a company to help me solve my problem, rather than trying to penetrate a faceless corporate facade.
2. Lack of a clear call to action on the home page. Have you ever been to a website and been completely overwhelmed with all the directions you can go from the home page? I have, and I become so frustrated that I leave in short order. Or, perhaps you thought, "This business sounds like one I’d like to stay in touch with — what do I do next?", and you can’t find the answer to that question anywhere on the home page of the website. The most effective call to action you can have on your home page is to offer something for free (ebook, ecourse, newsletter, survey results, report, toolkit) that is so attractive to your target market that they will give you their name and email address to receive your offer.
Many times the call to action is to telephone or email the business for a free consultation. I think that call to action is effective to some degree, especially if someone is shopping for an immediate solution to their problem,. Overall, however, I think people want more time to make a decision about doing business with you in terms of determining your credibility and making a decision about whether or not they trust you before deciding to have a personal conversation with you. Expecting someone to call you upon first meeting you (viewing your website) is not very realistic. However, if they’ve seen enough on your site to want a little more, there’s a greater likelihood of them parting with a tiny bit of info (first name and email address) in order to get a better experience of you anonymously and without a great commitment. Once you have their contact information, they have become a prospective client and you can market to them as you would to any other prospect in your business.
3. Little website content that demonstrates your expertise. I often visit websites in which the company boasts how proficient they are at solving my problem, but when I look for proof of what they know (articles, resources, recorded content), I come up empty-handed, as the website is simply an online brochure describing the company’s products and services. If you’ve been in business for awhile, you’ve got a good idea of the problems that your customers face. Don’t look upon providing information on your website as giving away your solutions for free — think of it as developing a better-educated consumer for your services and products. Will you lose customers because they read your information and implemented the solution without hiring you? That’s possible, but most prospective customers are unable to do it on their own and will need your expert assistance to help them solve their problem.
4. Inability to "test" your service at less expensive price points. Many service companies expect that their website visitors will part with a large sum of money to hire them just after meeting them. This rarely happens, unless your prospective customer is in an emergency situation. For example, if you’re an exterminator and someone has just discovered his home is infested with termites, he may part with $1200 upon meeting you if he’s confident that you can quickly and reliably solve his termite problem. However, this scenario isn’t realistic for those of use providing optional purchase-type services, like coaching, training, consulting, website design, printing, etc. Potential clients like to "buy in" at lower price points to "test" your expertise and reliability before handing over $5000 for a year-long consulting contract, for example. Andrea Lee, in her book, Multiple Streams of Coaching Income, https://www.msoci.com, suggests several price points in the creation of your marketing funnel:
a. free/complimentary/gift (like the free report you give away on the home page of your website)
b. $4.95 -$50
c. $50 – $200
d. $200 – $500
e. $500 and greater
Creating services and/or products at these various levels will help prospective clients "sample" your expertise at a price point that’s comfortable for them, and you, as the business owner, can "move" them through your marketing funnel until they buy your top-level service.
5. Missing or hidden contact information. You’ve visited a website several times and think that the site offers the ideal solution to your problem. However, you’ve got one question to ask before making your purchasing decision. You seek the location of the company, the phone number, or an email address, and all you find is a contact form to send your question. Website owners are often reluctant to have their contact info readily available on the website, as they fear having their email address harvested by spammers, or having their phone number added to a telemarketer list. There are ways to lessen the likelihood of either issue, like by using an email address encoder like NATATA Anti-Spam Encoder, https://natata.hn3.net/, or the National Do Not Call Registry, https://www.donotcall.gov/default.aspx (applies to residential numbers only), or a live online chat help system, like LivePerson.com. Make it as easy as possible for potential clients to contact you.
6. Hidden prominent benefit or feature that makes your company unique. When I’m doing online research for a particular product or service, I want to know right away what makes any company unique or different from their competition. Several months ago I was speaking with the owner of a fencing company and was confused about why people would buy fencing online and have it shipped, as the shipping cost would negate any savings they might realize on the product over buying it locally. I learned this company offered free shipping on purchases of $2500. I replied, "That’s great, but how would I know that?" The offer was buried in an internal page of the site. I encouraged the company to put the offer in a prominent place on the home page so that prospective clients would immediately know the unique feature of doing business with this company.
7. Creation of a website that looks like every other business website in your industry. Sometimes I cringe when I go to the website of a web design company that serves a niche market, like dentists, for example. When I look at the company’s website portfolio, every single website looks virtually the same, except for color variation or changing the graphic on the home page. Granted, if I’m seeking a dentist in Houston, there’s little chance I would stumble across a dentist in Dallas with a similar website. However, what I frequently see business owners do is to scope out the websites of their competition and format their own site in a similar fashion, but with their own information. My online searches for a product or service often make me yawn because I see website after website that essentially says the same thing — nothing stands out enough to rouse me out of my stupor. Don’t fall victim to a cookie-cutter website — make sure that your personality is prominently featured throughout your site. Give visitors a great experience of "you" when they visit. And, flagrantly flaunt your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) so that your visitor instantly realizes why they should do business with you instead of your competitor.
8. Lack of additional resources. One of the ways I gauge the usefulness of a website is if they have incredibly useful resources to help me research and/or resolve my problem. I’ve bookmarked websites and subscribed to email newsletters solely on the strength of a website’s resource page. One of the things that my clients love about working me with is that I have a mental Rolodex of resources — they ask a question about doing business online, and 95% of the time I have a ready resource to give them that helps them solve their problem. A number of these resources are listed on my website or featured in my email newsletter. Many times, I receive no compensation for the resource I recommend — I just know that it’s the best source of which I’m aware to do a particular task. Your clients want the same capability from you — the more you know about your industry and its problems and how to find solutions, whether you offer the solution or not, the greater the perception of your expertise, and consequently the greater value you offer your client.
9. No testimonials or case studies to demonstrate how you’ve helped others solve problems. One of the easiest ways you can create customer confidence in you is to list testimonials on your website. Testimonials that simply say you’re great and wonderful do little to establish your credibility. You need testimonials that clearly state how someone’s life, business, career, etc. is different and improved after working with you. Those are the ones that make a difference to your visitor. Case studies outlining a problem and how your service helped solve it are also very powerful in convincing a potential client that you can do what you claim.
10. Website that is "you" focused. There’s a very funny country song sung by Toby Keith called, "I Wanna Talk About Me" in which the refrain, in part, says, "I wanna talk about me, Wanna talk about I, Wanna talk about number one , Oh my me my, What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see…" Do you spend all of your website real estate talking about yourself and how wonderful you are? Your visitors need to know a bit about you, but what holds their interest is the knowledge that you understand their problems and issues and have ready-made solutions that resolve these problems. Make your website about your visitor, not about you.
Your website can function as an attractive online brochure, or it can be a client-generating tool to help you grow your business. Businesses in almost every industry can benefit from a website, and the majority of those can critically evaluate their website again this checklist of mistakes so that they can increase their client prospects online.
Best-selling author Donna Gunter works with successful business owners who are experts in their fields and established in their industry and are seeking a way to stand out from their competitors. Using her Ideal Clients on Autopilot System©, she helps them determine the exact strategies to generate more qualified leads and better-paying clients with automated systems. This proven system makes all their marketing easier and more effective and they find themselves positioned as the only choice for their clients.