How to create a website that generates business
How many blog posts out there are about website design? Answer: a gazillion. So many different ways to tell you what you should be doing: blogging, landing pages, mobile friendliness. The list goes on.
Right here, right now we’re going to get down to the naked truth and tell you exactly what you need to know to create a website that actually generates business for you and how to avoid making rooky mistakes.
First things first, who’s going to create your website?
You'll pay more for bad website design in the long run
I get that it’s tempting to think that your 13 year old niece can design a successful website for you for a mere $200 or that your son, who’s a graphic designer, can create a website for you in his spare time for free but I’ll be honest, and trust me on this, it isn’t going to work out for you.
Your niece will create a website, but it won’t be of a professional standard. Your son will take a very, very long time to finish the website, if at all.
Have you ever heard of an accountant or solicitor not charging anything or very little? Anyone can learn those skills, but you get what you pay for. You wouldn't say “I know someone who can do it for $100” to a mechanic and expect the same results.
What about saving money by doing it yourself? Think time = money. In the long run you’ll spend hours researching a solution, learning how to use it and if/when you’ve finished, the results will quite possibly be a little crude, no offence intended.
Creating a website is just the start
If your website is to be a genuine asset to your business, it should provide leads, sales and build customer relationships.
A lot of businesses have websites that are not hitting the mark when it comes to increasing leads and sales. This is a choice. You can choose to have a ‘shop window’ website or you can choose to use your website as a tool to get more enquiries or sales.
I hear complaints about website’s not doing anything to generate business. People say these things from a lack of understanding. ‘Build it and they will come’ doesn’t work. You have to put effort into it. Oh no, really? Yup, but the best part is that it isn’t difficult to achieve this.
Attract new business, position yourself as an expert
If you add relevant, up-to-date and valuable content to your website aimed at helping your customers, you’re already doing a lot better than 90% of other businesses who do NOTHING to attract new business. This is the stuff that will make you stand out above the rest and that's what your focus should be on.
There’s so much competition online now, it’s just crazy. A huge reason why you need to do something to stand out over your competitors. That something is providing valuable and useful content that people want to read.
And whilst they’re reading your content you have the perfect opportunity to collect email addresses to use to market to them effectively.
A website isn’t a magic solution but it can top up your sales pipeline with fresh, hungry leads
All I hear from small business owners when it comes to producing content for their website is that they don’t have the time to commit to writing valuable content. I get that. I’m one of those small business owners.
The good news is that you don’t have to write screeds of content, you’ve just got to be smart and strategic about what you write about.
You probably repeat valuable information to your potential clients over and over, so why not put it on your website to help generate business?
By not writing content you are basically saying you don’t have time to market your business. Which is just nuts if you’re in business.
Expecting your stagnant website, that has a tiny scraping of content on it, to generate business for you isn’t going to be successful, it just doesn’t work like that.
What usually goes wrong?
Clunky website syndrome.
For those of you who already have a website you may experience at some point that your site just doesn’t work that well.
There are many, many web designers out there with varying degrees of expertise and it’s difficult for you to know if your chosen designer really knows their stuff.
Maybe your website loads slowly because it was created by a graphic designer who doesn’t have web experience and doesn’t know to optimise images for the web.
Maybe your website hosting is one of the super cheapo hosting services that results in very slow loading of your site due to resource issues.
Or maybe the code is broken. There are so many reasons, too many to mention now.
The key takeaway is that a website is not static like a printed magazine. It’s made up of components that change, get updated, fail, get fixed and renew
All of a sudden your website could go from perfectly fine to broken so you’d better make sure to have good maintenance, a backup plan and support.
Finally, I know that a lot of us use the same old easy to remember passwords over and over. Probably because there are so many to remember. Makes life easy surely. NO! Stop doing this!
Easy to remember passwords that aren’t changed are a huge security problem and will likely result in your website being hacked into.
No one thinks the worst will happen to their website, until it does. It happens more than you care to know. But if you put a plan in place it is easy to prevent and will save you lost business, money and stress.
There are too many businesses out there writing about themselves, guess what customers don’t care. On their minds is the question “What’s in it for me?” or “Does this help me solve my problem?”
It doesn’t matter what your business is and what industry you are in. The main thing you need to keep in mind when you are writing for your customers is your customers. Wait, what?
What I mean is write about stuff that will help your customers, aim for them. Not what your industry peers want to read or worse, your competitors.
Get creative, brainstorm topics not just within your industry but further. Think about what your customers want to hear.
Not enough content
Heaps of websites are built with a blog set up ready for content to be added only for the blog to be left empty or with just that one “Our new website is launched” post sitting alone on the page. Tragic. You might as well not bother having a blog, in fact get rid of it as it is making your website looked uncared for and this is probably reflecting on your business.
You don’t have to create pages upon pages of blog posts, in fact it’s more about quality over quantity. Better to write one killer post than several mediocre posts that don’t achieve any engagement at all.
The key though is to publish posts regularly, following a schedule that fits with you. We know it sounds hard to create content every week, but really it isn't.
Sometimes the thought of writing content is daunting and you worry that you’d struggle on what to write about or say but actually once you start, you find that there’s such an overwhelming amount to write about.
You should know your (ideal) customers and what they want to hear. I promise that you've got more content than you realise on your business and products. And after thinking about it, if you still don't think you have anything to say, then what the hell are you selling?
What if you’re not good at writing? A lot of people don’t think they can or don’t want to write. That’s ok. And if you’re not good at any of this stuff then there are people who can help (like us)!
5 Tips to NAIL a website
Clean design and layout
Follow these tips to make sure your website is easy to use:
- White space
Don’t be afraid of it. It allows the reader to focus on the one thing that you want to be looking at. If you over complicate your website design it is a drag for your readers - they have to work out what they need to do. Make it as easy as possible for people to use and read your content.
Don’t try and jazz up your text by making it whacky colours to attract attention or making ALL the text bold. You will just look like an amateur. Stick to a small colour palette, slick and professional.
- Photos and graphics
There are so many nice and free to use images out there. You can access a list here. Take the time to find high quality images to help people visualise the story you're telling. Images are great to use to break up text and keep your readers attention.
- Break the text up. Separate out points and keep it minimal. Prioritise what points you want to get access. Take the time to write less! I know that sounds strange, bare with me - if you edit your copy you’ll find that you can say more in less words. The key here is to get to the point. Time is precious, don’t waste the reader’s time.
- It is wise to stick to one Call-to-Action (CTA) per page/post. It is tempting to cover more but trust me the page will be less successful. The more choice, the harder it is for the reader to decide, the higher the chance of them giving up and leaving. Keep the action that you want someone to take easy to do. Either sign up or call. Don't over complicate it.
Publish regular content
Simply put you need to commit to publishing content regularly and once you have a plan in place it isn’t that hard.
Here are some idea points to get you started:
- Think of 5 broad topics that is of interest to your customers and that you’re keen to write about. Draw the topics from experience.
- If you're an accountant what are the 5 basic topics that come up between you and the customer. For example, cash flow, forecasting, Xero tips, tax planning and employees versus contractors.
- Think of the most common questions that you get about those topics. What are the most common questions that you get asked over and over again. What are you having to repeat to people. You could use these questions and expand the answer into a post or collate all of the questions with answers into a frequently asked questions post.
- What are some topics that your customers SHOULD know. Think about the things that your current customers have discovered about your business over time.
- What about the results that your customers have experienced, share success stories you've had.
When you are brainstorming and coming up with headlines, make sure to cross check that you're talking about YOUR business and what makes you different.
The people in your business could play a part in the posts. What's their take on the broad subjects and yes I mean include opinions. We all have them and your customers will experience your opinion when they work with you so why not publish it? Don’t be scared to do this. Too many people are worried about not pleasing everyone but opinion is what makes an article exciting or interesting to read.
If you created 3 headlines from each broad topic, that's 15 pieces of content.
Provide the next step
The point of providing a valuable article is once someone has read it they move on to the next step - signing up for something else.
The goal is to obtain their email address so you can use that to market directly to them via email. The way that you get that email address is to offer another valuable piece of content.
A way to do this is to close by asking “If you liked this article then you’ll love [valuable content]”.
A good way of enticing the sign up is to emphasise the benefit of this additional valuable content and what they can achieve after signing up.
Keep your next step related to the original content. Make it a next step or an added bonus. What should the valuable content be? Well think about what someone would TRULY want to see next if they were reading your content?
For example if it’s a post about buying a new laptop, the next logical step would be a guide on the 5 best current laptops.
The fact is that you have to invest to make headway. Ask yourself: does your business deserve the investment? Cutting costs when creating a website is a FALSE ECONOMY. You’ll spend more in the long run tweaking and fixing a cheap website so do yourself a favour and get it done right first time.
These days people research online before they buy, so by the time people get to you they’re more informed than ever. To build trust you need to be prepared to give away valuable info and demonstrate you know what you’re talking about.
Creating a website that will provides leads and sales is about making a plan and committing to it. It’s not complicated, it’s about investing, time and enthusiasm.
- Don't pay for cheap websites because you'll keep paying for them.
- Clean, simple design that gives you a return on your investment isn't difficult.
- Be honest and realistic and only publish content that your customers really want to read.
- Add a Call to Action on all your pages / posts.