The 3 Costliest Mistakes I've Made Launching A New Website (So Far)
Last month my company launched an entirely new website. Hooray! Well, not so fast...
The site -- please excuse my self-promotion -- is called Marks Group Live. It's targeted at users of Zoho, one of the business applications my company sells. It's a new type of offering, which is part of the problem.
Mostly small companies buy Zoho. The only ways for them to get help is support from Zoho, watch free videos on YouTube or hire partners like me ar rather high hourly fees. My site is aimed at financially conscious users. Sounds good, right?
Well, it's been a slog. Growth has been slower than I expected. I realize now that users need more time to understand this relatively new way of getting services for a business application. I’ve made other mistakes. Stupid mistakes. Here are my biggest (so far).
Mistake 1: I went for quantity over quality with Google AdWords.
Think about it -- if you need help, service, consulting or training with a business application you're probably going to Google it, right? So I jumped into AdWords, and wound up throwing a bunch of money right down the toilet.
Why? Because I didn't understand a basic concept about Google AdWords: for B2B marketing it's all about quality over quantity. Sure, Entrepreneur.com get millions of visitors every day on their site -- it's how they sell ads. But for a company selling to other businesses there are leads and then there are leads. Using generic and popular keywords meant I was paying for tons of visitors on my sight who weren't the right kind of leads for me. They immediately left -- my bounce rate was 95 percent. Because of this stupid mistake I squandered my monthly ad budget in a couple of days.
How I fixed this: I realized that getting 100 good visitors to my site is more financially effective than getting 1,000 bad leads, so I changed to more specific and less generically popular AdWords. I chose quality over quantity. My bounce rate is going down and people are spending more time on my site. Fingers crossed.
Mistake 2: I underestimated how curious people are on the internet.
The internet is a funny place. Billions of people are surfing at any given moment and let's face it: most didn't go to Harvard. Because my AdWords were initially so general (see above) I got people blindly clicking on them. I got questions about real estate in New Jersey and whether I knew any good tax accountants in Florida. I found that many people will click on anything they see -- mistakenly or intentionally -- and then not only take up my time but my advertising budget. Even if a decent prospect landed on my site I also found that they asked a lot of questions about a lot of obvious things that I thought were plain and simple on my site. Apparently, they weren't.
How I fixed this: As mentioned above, I used better, more specific keywords. I also placed ads a little further down the page to (hopefully) avoid people who click on the first thing they see. More importantly, I went to work making my site easier to understand. I added sections for "frequently asked questions," "about us," and more expansive descriptions as well as videos and better explanations of our services. It’s helpful, but hasn’t fully solved the problem. That’s because I was making Mistake 3.
Mistake 3: I ignored humans.
When I launched the site I had this vision that small business owners who needed help with Zoho would visit, read, click and sign up. Boom! No muss, no fuss. Everything would be simple. It would be like buying a book on Amazon or a ceramic mug on Etsy. Money would rain down on me from the heavens while I sipped cocktails in the Caribbean. This, as you've likely gathered, has not been the case.
A few of our subscribers did this but most have needed more. I have realized that the big companies like Salesforce, Microsoft and Intuit that offer B2B applications have actual sales staffs -- and for good reason. My offerings start at $65 a month. When people -- particularly people who own small businesses -- have questions when they are asked to spend hundreds of dollars. Because they are business owners (like me) they will be skeptical. They want some assurances. They want to know who they are doing business with. Humans matter.
How I fixed this: I added a dedicated phone line and chat feature to call. I offered a free whitepaper for visitors to download so that I could capture their email. Then I followed up with emails so that I could answer questions and gently push the benefits of our services. I emailed our existing client base and have been answering many questions. I've been nurturing, developing, cajoling, explaining and educating people.
I didn't think I would have to do all of this, but it's working. Signups have increased since I provided a way to connect with more humans. That's the good news. The downside is that this takes more resources and more money, which means less profits than I expected. Forget the Caribbean. Looks like the Jersey Shore for me.
So those are just the three stupidest mistakes I've made with my new website…so far. I’ve made others, and I’m sure there are more to come. Avoid doing what I did and save yourself some time and money.