These days, customers inevitably visit your website before deciding whether to buy from you. So how do you optimize your site to attract clients?
The good news is you don’t need a lot of bells & whistles, you don’t need beautiful graphic design (although it’s helpful), and you don’t need to do a huge overhaul of your site!
The tips I’m offering here will dramatically boost the effectiveness of your site, and they are easy to implement. Everything here is about updating the copy and tabs; no site redesign required.
I’m focusing today on a typical service business; there will be some variation depending on your industry.
Clear Goal for the Website
What is the #1 purpose that your website is optimized for? You need to have a clear answer to this question before you can update the site.
For most professional service firms, the vast majority of web traffic comes from potential clients who heard about you somewhere (a referral, ad, media mention, etc.). They are checking out your site to decide whether they want to contact you. In this case, the #1 purpose of your website is converting these people who already heard about you into calls or emails.
Everything in your site should be designed to accomplish your #1 purpose. Things that don’t further this purpose should usually be left out—they are distracting people and reducing the likelihood that you will get a call! In my opinion, many websites are far too complex.
Compelling Value Proposition on Your Homepage
I tell my clients that your homepage has one goal: to immediately reassure the reader that they are in the right place. Unfortunately, most homepages are either cluttered with headlines, information, links, etc. Or they are very “abstract” and don’t clearly tell the reader where they have landed (big pretty picture with vague text).
The best homepage is clearly organized in a linear flow so the person easily and correctly reads it. At the top is a clear and compelling value proposition, explaining who the firm helps and what kind of problems it solves. Less is more–if the reader likes what they read, they will certainly click deeper into your site. If they get overwhelmed or confused, they will give up and leave.
Tabs for Each Client Segment
Many websites have tabs for different products or services. I recommend my clients change this, so the tabs are for different client types served. For example, maybe an architecture firm serves residential and commercial clients, or a coach serves schools, workplaces, and individuals. Give each type of client their own tab.
Organizing your site this way is more intuitive for potential clients, because they immediately know which tab to click for the information that’s relevant to them. Listing your products or services may not be immediately understandable to someone who doesn’t know much about your business.
Each tab should take you to a landing page for that client segment. The landing page starts off with a more specific value proposition, tailored for that type of client. And then it describes what it’s like to work with you. Finally, let them know what the next step is (booking an appointment, requesting a consultation, giving you a call, etc.), and encourage them to take it.
When someone visits your site, they are evaluating whether you seem legit, and deciding how interested they are in working with you. A powerful way to get a higher percentage of them to call is to feature strong testimonials. These third-party quotes increase your credibility, and allow you to showcase past successes.
This should be its own tab, and depending on your business it could be “testimonials,” “case studies,” “success stories,” or something like that. Having your portfolio is NOT enough–your clients’ words of praise add a ton.
It’s fine if you just have a few testimonials (for now … definitely get more over time). It’s also fine if you have a ton–in this case just rank order them so the strongest ones are on top. For advice on getting strong testimonials, read my article here.
Sometimes, in an effort to make a small firm more professional, businesses decide not to be clear about who is in the company. However, I believe that people do business with people, so this is your opportunity to create a personal connection with the potential client. Who founded the firm? Who else (if anyone) works there? How did they get interested in this type of work?
I recommend including a photo and brief bio for each team member. If you want to make your team look bigger, consider inviting frequent collaborators (if any) to include their bios as well.
Visitors to you site are interested in what you do, and many have the potential to become clients at some point. How many visitors go to your site but you don’t hear from them? Probably a lot! A great technique to capture these people is to invite them to join your email newsletter. With consistent and valuable mailings over time, you will definitely see a portion of them become clients. (See my article, How Not to Be a Spammer.)
Do NOT have a “Sign up for our newsletter!” box. I used to do that, and surprise! not many people wanted to be on one more newsletter. Instead, you can earn subscribers by offering a freebie in exchange for people’s email address. Great giveaways are checklists, ebooks, resource guides, whitepapers, etc. (See for example my homepage giveaway.) Such a freebie is also an opportunity to showcase your expertise and start to build a relationship.
Of course you want your contact information to be easy to find. On the other hand, I am not a fan of big banners at the top of every page saying “CALL US NOW! 888-BIG-HYPE!!!” If someone wants to call you, they will call you. If they don’t, a tacky banner is not going to move them in the right direction.
People know to look for a “Contact” tab, and that’s what I recommend. On it, make it easy to contact you. Typically I recommend giving your email address and phone number. If you are concerned about privacy, you could opt for a “Send us a message” form. Whatever you do, try to show people that they are contacting a real person. Having people fill out a form or email “firstname.lastname@example.org” can give the impression that their message will go into a black hole. If you must do that, at least include a photo of the team and a welcoming note nearby.
What Do You Think?
What have you found effective or ineffective on your site? What things do you want to change after reading this article? Share your comments and advice for other readers below!