A website tells a lot about a business. It shows how much thought the business puts into its brand and whether it values having a website.
Unfortunately, far too many companies don’t really value their websites and don’t get the full benefit out of them. They neglect design, website copy, and other important essentials. They put the focus only on making sales.
This results in a really bad website and leaves visitors unsure if the company is the best one to do business with. This is why it’s so important to have a value proposition. A website needs to tell visitors in a couple of sentences or less why their business is the best choice for the visitor, instead of sending a bunch of different messages that won’t be received.
The path I’m proposing is not an easy one, because building a great website isn’t easy. It requires the coordination of a diverse team, each member adding their own input. There’s an endless amount of iterations and feedback to process. It’s a lot of work, but the payoff is worth it.
There are many issues that face businesses when building their websites. I believe the biggest one is making sure that there’s one overarching message. There are many different messages to broadcast, but I believe it should be the value proposition (VP).
It’s the job of a business’s website to deliver this VP, and it should be concise and clear. After a few minutes of being on your site, people should know the value you bring.
Let me pose this question to you:
If you could survey all the visitors who left your site, what would they have taken away? (What key message or trait would they know about your business?) If you don’t know or think there would be all types of different answers, you may want to reconsider the objective for your website.
This post will be about making sure you have one or two messages that really stick with visitors. We’ll be examining all the different factors that affect your website’s message. We’ll first get into copy and then design, and we’ll be including some examples along the way.
Website copy plays a key role in forming the message that visitors will take away. Consistent writing throughout the website will help reinforce the message you want users to notice.
The key is to restrict the number of VPs that you broadcast. If you try to broadcast too many, then your visitors aren’t going to focus on any of them. Keep to a limit of one or two VPs, and they’ll remember.
Above the fold VP
The first thing people read on your website is the value proposition. It’s the initial text or image that is meant to spark interest in visitors, leading them to view more of the website.
One of the messages TaskRabbit wants to broadcast on their website is their safety. Let’s take a look at how TaskRabbit emphasizes this.
On the homepage VP, TaskRabbit mentions the safety of their taskrabbits:
Directly underneath their VP, they mention their safety, elaborating a little more this time:
On the How it Works page, they use similar language to describe their taskrabbits:
Again on the How it Works page, they have a section about safety:
On the “Meet the Taskrabbits” page, they mention once again that “Safety is Task #1”:
As you can see, their safety badge and methodology are posted on many of their popular pages. So when people spend a little bit of time on the TaskRabbit website, they become assured that it’s a safe company. Any previous concerns are alleviated, while trust is built as the visitors realize that the taskrabbits are background checked and trustworthy.
Rackspace is a company known for their support. It’s a message they want to get across right from the homepage. They display this badge on the homepage:
On every product page, they have a section about their support. Examples:
Visitors leave the site knowing that Rackspace places an emphasis on their support.
Both TaskRabbit and Rackspace are concentrating their efforts to get out a message. They both have their specific messages on their homepages and sprinkled throughout the websites.
For TaskRabbit the message is:
“We’re safe and our taskrabbits are background checked.”
For Rackspace the message is:
“We have a great support system, which you’ll remember as Fanatical Support.”
Here’s a graphic to illustrate the point:
What is your brand’s message? What is the VP you want visitors to recognize? We’ll talk about finding yours at the end of this blog post.
Let’s move on to another area that influences your message – design.
Along with website copy, design gives the visitor an overall feel for the business. The website is a product of the business, and it reflects its work. If a website is slow, filled with errors, clunky, and ugly, most people will get a bad feeling about the business and not want to become a customer. But if the website is fast, has beautiful design, and is simple, then the business is increasing its odds of landing new customers.
Let’s look at some site designs and see how they influence our perception of the business.
This is what you’ll be presented with if you go to Square’s homepage:
From this image, you can tell a number of things:
- You can accept payments via credit card with an iPhone.
- The simple design makes everything easy to read and allows the visitor to see everything on the homepage.
- The card reader is free, and Square takes 2.75% commission on all payments.
Does Square get their message across? Well, they tell what they do, how much it costs, and give an early impression of a simple product.
Let’s take a look at what visitors see when they go to the UserTesting homepage:
There’s a lot more information to take in than on Square’s, but here are some things I took away after viewing this page for a few seconds:
- They perform usability testing.
- It costs $39.
- They’ve had a lot of customers.
- There’s a money-back guarantee.
It would appear as though they get their main selling points across. I know what it is, how much it costs, and there’s a money-back guarantee. This is all the essential information that the visitor needs to know.
Let’s take a look at YourMechanic:
So does YourMechanic tell us what makes them unique? If you look at their homepage, they sure do:
- The mechanics are certified.
- The mechanics come to you.
- They offer a wide range of automobile services.
I understand the core of YourMechanic and what their VP is. Mechanics come to you to fix the car instead of you having to drive or tow a broken car over to them.
All three of the above are good examples of companies explaining what their businesses and VPs are.
Let’s take a look at some websites that don’t do a good job of getting their messages across.
Here’s a website called Ling’s Cars:
This is an extreme example. It takes effort for someone to create a site as confusing and bloated as this. It’s possible that it was made badly on purpose just to get attention. Either way, it doesn’t get the message across. All I learned from spending a few moments on this site was:
- They do car leasing.
- It looks a little untrustworthy. When a website has to say “You can trust me!” you know there’s something wrong.
I have no idea what the VP is. Total miss by Ling and her staff.
Digital Hollywood’s website has good intentions but fails to get its message across:
A few things I learned about it:
- It is a conference.
- There are a lot of logos that, when looked at, turn out to be sponsors of the conference.
- One third of the page is purple.
You can get the information you want with this homepage, but it’s bloated. They tried to fit too much information into it.
I simply don’t get the overall message. Who are the speakers? Why should I attend this conference? Who is it for? Instead, I’m left with these questions unanswered (unless I investigate). And it has actually brought an additional question to my mind:
Why is a third of the website colored purple?
Here is a website that flashes boxes at you at different speeds. Apparently, the user is supposed to click on one of the boxes:
The point is that it’s not just bad design; it doesn’t get the message across. I have no idea what this company does by viewing their homepage. It’s not bloated like the others, but it doesn’t explain what they do. I get no overall message about the business, other than the fact that they have a poor website. And because that’s all I know about them, it means that I am not judging their business favorably.
You’ve now seen both good and bad design and how it impacts the visitor’s opinion of the business. Some websites do a good job of broadcasting their message/VP, while others fail. Can you guess which ones took more time and effort? The ones that get their message across and take more time and effort clearly have better results.
Now let’s take a look at how you can find your VP.
Finding Your Message
Why did you start your business? What was missing in the marketplace before you entered? What major advantage does your business have over the others? All of these are questions you should be able to answer, and they will help you form your VP.
Here are some examples of VPs and the messages these brands get across:
- Wal-Mart: Lowest prices
- Duracell: Most dependable batteries
- Mint: Free online money management
- Verizon Wireless: Biggest 4G LTE Coverage
- Southwest Airlines: No bag fee
- Netflix: Stream movies instantly
- Discover Card: Get 5% cash back
These brands have messages that tell why they deserve your money over any of their competitors. It’s what they (in their own opinion) do best.
What do you do better than anyone else? Why do people use your services? Answer these questions, and you’ll have your VP and main message for your website.
Any questions or comments? Let us know in the comments!
About the Author: Zach Bulygo is a blogger for KISSmetrics, you can find him on Twitter here. You can also follow him on Google+.
Why Having A Website Is Important
Last week I was thinking about how many businesses don't have a website. Depending on what report you look at anywhere from 44% to 51% of small businesses do not have a website. When I saw this statistic for the first time I could not believe it. As I called a list of local dental offices I quickly found out that most of them don't have a website. Now I understand how this website may actually be true. I was shocked. It made me think I should write an article on why having a website is important for small businesses if they want to get new customers, or even just keep their existing ones. This articles summarizes all of the reasons that came to me as I wrote the article. I am sure there are more, but these are main reasons that stick out to me. In my opinion everyone should have a website because they are so inexpensive and yet so effective, hopefully my article will help you in determining if a website would be beneficial for your business. Profitworks provides marketing services specializing in search engine optimization and website conversion optimization services. We Work. Your Profit.
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93% Of Business Purchase Decisions Start With A Search Engine Search
In order to gain new customers you need to understand where your prospects go when they are looking to find suppliers, research suppliers and make a purchase. In today's world the place where most people in most markets go is to the internet, specifically a search engine like Google, Yahoo, Bing. These search engines are the big three (in that order) and account for over 90% of all searches. Google is by far the biggest with about 6 of every 10 searches. To learn more about the market share each search engine has go to ComScore. With 93% of business decisions starting with a search engine search that means if you don't have a website, you are only selling to 7% of your market. That is right, you are reducing the potential size of your business by 93%. I would suggest that the same statistic for consumer purchases is lower but still very high, especially for larger ticket items. The larger the item, the more research and shopping people will do. My guess is probably 40-50% of consumer purchases start with an online search.
If in today's age you don't have a website there is a good portion of the market that will not even consider you as an option when they are looking to buy. I know personally if I am dealing with a supplier I am looking to purchase from and they don't even have a website I pretty much write them off as an option to buy from and my view of that company is diminished to that it is a company that is very poorly managed. With this viewpoint why would I want to purchase from a company like this? Based on my experience most people think similar to myself. There are some people that do not hold this same thought but I would guess that probably 80% of people have bad opinions of companies that don't have websites.
Ease Of Access
Having a website makes it very easy for people to find you, read up about your company, what you do and answer a bunch of questions they have on your company. By having a website people will be able to find your company when they search for your company on a search engine like google, yahoo or bing. It is true that if you don't have a website your business may be found in a search engine if you have a listing in a directory, the yellow pages or your business could just automatically show up in a google places result. Do you really want to leave this to chance though? Plus why not have a website so that you can influence what is displayed about your company and know your website will be listed in addition to having all those other search results. Which of the below results would you rather have for your company. Results like the first image or the last image?
I would prefer the results shown in the first image as the results for Harold Stecho Electric Ltd. don't give me any enticement to contact them, very little information on what they do, any information on what value they provide and what makes them different. The search results for Profitworks are not perfect but they do describe what Profitworks does right below the first link. The links also provide links to two free resources, enticing people to click on the links and an about us link where they can learn more about Profitworks. I don't use this example to criticize Harold Stecho Electric Ltd. I just used the first company that came to mind that I knew did not have a website. I know they don't have a website as I tried to find their website the other day when doing some work for one of my clients.
Personally I would be hesitant to even spend time calling the results from Harold Stecho Electric Ltd. because the results that come up make me think they might be out of business. If I think this the case I usually don't phone as I feel it would be a better use of my time to phone a competitor that I know for sure is still in operation.
Low Cost Per Impression Marketing Vehicle
Having a website built and hosted is a very low cost marketing method. Depending on the quality of the website designer you choose and the complexity of your site it will usually cost between $2,000 and $15,000. The more professional and customized the higher the cost. For example using a professional company that does custom websites like REM Web Solutions website packages start at $3,600. The only other additional costs in addition to the website design is the website hosting, which is very inexpensive. For example if you were to use Blue Host, which is a great hosting company and even includes free 24/7 support, you would probably be looking at about $6.95 a month if you sign up for their standard web hosting and a 36 month agreement. That is only $83.40 a year for your website hosting. P.S. The link above for Blue Host is an affiliate link I will get a small commission from if you decide to purchase from them.
Lets assume that you spend $10,000 on the design of a website, to be conservative, and see how it compares to other marketing methods on a cost per 1,000 impression. If you are not familiar with what an impression is you can find a definition on our small business marketing dictionary. For this example I am also going to assume that the website gets 1,000 visits a month and that the average viewer views 3.5 pages each visit. This equates to 42,000 pages views a year and should be easily attainable for almost any website. Based on this assumption if you include the upfront cost of designing the website and look to amortize it over 5 years the cost per impression is high. Taking this approach the total cost for the five years is $10,000.00 plus $83.40 a year for five years for a total of $10,417.00. During this time frame your impressions from your website would be 42,000 times five or 210,000. This would work out to $48.01 per 1,000 impressions. This is not cheap but here is where it gets good. After this initial investment the ongoing cost are extremely low for those 42,000 impressions every year. In this example they work out to $1.98 because the cost is only $83.40 for those 42.000 impressions.
Having a website, next to Facebook Ads, is the most cost effective marketing method when looking at cost per 1,000 impressions. Your website will be much more effective though than Facebook Ads because people see your website they are actively engaged in learning about your company. Having people actively engaged on your website for multiple minutes at a time will result in many more leads and sales then a small Facebook Ad as most often people don't even notice Facebook Ads.
If we use the same example from the paragraph above for the first five years of having a website your costs will be $10,417.00. How many sales do you need to generate to pay this back? If you are in a business to business market my guess is that you may only need one sale to make your website investment worth while. If one sale is not enough, it is probably only a handful. The chances of your website generating more than a handful of customers over the course of five years is almost guaranteed given websites are about the #3 source of new customers for the average small businesses. Even if you are in a business to consumer market how much in sales would you need to make the website investment worth while....$25,000 maybe? Generating $25,000 over the course of 5 years from a website is peanuts. Do the math but I am sure when you look at the numbers they will prove for themselves that it is worth while investing in a website.
The great part about a website is that once you invest in it, you have it forever and it continues to work for your forever. What other advertising methods are there that once you pay for it once it continues to work for your business for ever? Not many. When you pay for a newspaper ad you get that one ad and any benefit that one ad generates but after that ad it is done. That money you spent on the newspaper ad is gone and you can never get it back. If you don't get a return on investment from it, you never can. The same is true for google adwords, Facebook Ads, Linkedin Ads, a yellow page listing, magazine ads etc. Where as with a website, if you don't make a positive ROI in the first year, no worries because you have from now until the end of time to get a return on your investment.
By getting a website it makes it possible for anyone in the world to find your business. If you have a product that can be easily sold online you can dramatically increase your customer base by selling on line. To read more about how to do this read my article Expand Customer Base By Selling Online. Or maybe you can't sell your services online but by having a website you can gain customers that are outside the geographic reach or your marketing efforts.
A great story about this. About 6 months ago I got a call from a man in Calgary interested in my services. I could have never generated a lead from someone in Calgary with any of my current marketing methods, except for my website. This example illustrates how having a website opens the doors for your business to a much larger geographic area......the entire world.
Easily Accessible Data Center
Your website can also act as a data center for both your own employees, customers and your prospects. A great example of this is my customer Gold Roast. They provide office coffee & warm beverage services, coffee, tea & espresso machine repairs, and sell coffee, tea and espresso machines. Basically anything with coffee, tea or espresso they do it. How they utilize their website as a data center is they provide their customers with login's to their complete product catalog. This allows customers to easy find any product they want and place an order for them. It also makes it easy for customers them to find replacement products if they want to change the coffee or tea products they order. For Gold Roast it saves them money by not having to print out paper catalogs, they never need to reprint catalogs when pricing changes, it saves them time by never having to send the customer the catalog or updates to the catalog (hard copy or digital copies) and it increases orders as it makes it much easier for customers to place an order. This is just one example but there are many ways a website can be used as a data center to to save labor hours and costs.
Self Service Customer Support
Another advantage of having a website is that it can improve your customer support and as a result improve your overall customer service. A website can do this if you post support Q&As on your website or create a forum where users can ask each other questions about your product and other users can answer these questions. These answers to common problems or questions are then available on the internet if other customers of yours search in a search engine for a solution to this problem. You can also direct customers to these online documented resources so that they can solve the problem themselves. This can make things much faster for your customers and also make your customer support department more efficient. Not all products or services can benefit from a troubleshooting forum, but I would argue all products could benefit from a Q&A page for commonly asked questions as well as a forum where customers can post any questions, comments or feedback they have about a product.
If you do not already have a website for your business I would highly encourage you to have one created. If you have technical skills creating your own can be a very cost effective option. If you like that kind of thing, as I do, it can be a very fun and rewarding experience. If you don't have those types of skills I would recommend one of two options. If you are looking for a low cost option and are comfortable working with suppliers over the internet and the phone without meeting in person 99Designs can be a great option as you can get multiple proposals and pick the design you like the best. With 99Designs you can also set your budget to whatever you want, but as the saying goes what you pay for is what you get so don't post too low a budget if you go this route. If you are looking for a professional option that is easy to use and you are not sure about what is best for your business REM Web Solutions is the option I would recommend. Their WebWiz@ard program is great for any business as it allows you to fully control your website, allowing for easy website content additions, easy additional feature plugin and will have great visual design created by seasoned professionals. They also offer free 24/7 support which is great as I hate being stuck with a technical issues and not knowing how to fix it or having to pay and arm and a leg to have it fixed. The free 24/7 support just makes everything so easy and headache free.
If you have a website and are interested in being able to know what companies are visiting your website click here for some tools that can do this for you
Other Related Articles You Might Be Interested In
1. Small Business Marketing - 5 Key Components
2. Website Homepage Design
3. Use A Sales Scoreboard To Increase Results
4. Email Marketing
Profitworks provides marketing services specializing in search engine optimization and website conversion optimization services. We Work. Your Profit.
Get Customers Blog - Go To Blog Homepage
I hope you have enjoyed this article on why having a website is important. As always I love to feature guest posts on my blog. If you would like to write an article that is on a topic that is related to getting new customers, and have expertise to share, I would love to feature you. If you are interested just contact me and let me know what you would like to write on.