How to Make Your Website Your Best Salesperson, and Not Your Worst Money Pit
In order for your website to be a business asset, you need it to communicate like a salesperson.
Most businesses get customers from word of mouth because it’s a channel driven by people talking to people. Business owners and salespeople are able to find new clients and close deals because they have intuition and experience. When you’re in a conversation with someone, you’re able to suss out what concerns them, address their questions and share compelling stories that showcase why you’re the best solution to their problem.
We ask websites to replicate the same savviness that a seasoned sales professional or business owner has in a conversation. We want our website to be a master communicator and we ask it to be able to dynamically address questions, concerns and create a relationship built on trust.
But here's the problem: A website doesn’t have a brain. It can't talk or think. A site can only display the information coded into it. Even if a website is graphically stunning, it can still fail at the core task of communicating with the customer. If it fails to communicate with a potential customer, it’s simply not doing its job.
Here’s what the vast majority of businesses are missing when it comes to making a successful website: They don’t make it personable or relatable. Salespeople are successful at bringing in new business because they are able to be personable and relatable while also being professional and great storytellers. And that’s exactly what your website needs to do as well, with the help of these five tips.
1. Know your audience.
No business is one size fits all. While most businesses could operate with a wide range of customers, it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to create effective communication that appeals to everyone.
Conversation changes dramatically based on profession, culture and even age group. The way you connect with a CEO of a Fortune 500 company versus a blue collar worker is very different.
Your advantage as a smaller business is that you can target your audience. Don’t be afraid of niching down to build around your strengths. Use your customers' language and what appeals to them, just like you would in person.
2. Tell your customer what’s in it for them first.
People make decisions instantly, including the decision on whether or not they’re going to continue reading or looking at your website. The very first thing on your website needs to be a headline that immediately addresses their incentive to keep reading. Starting out with headlines like “The local area's best X company” or “The Experts at XYZ” doesn’t tell your customers anything about what you’re going to do for them.
Instead, start with a provocative headline that covers primary benefits or addresses primary concerns for your customer. A contractor might say write something like “Build Equity in Your Home” instead of “City’s Best Contractor.” A real estate agent might write “Your Property Income Building Guru” instead of being a generic agent. Whatever your industry is, look at key phrases you use in your sales pitch that resonates with your customers and start there.
Related: What's in It for Me?
3. Use your stories to create connection with your customers.
People love stories. A good story will always convert better than raw information, because people understand stories. Facts and figures are great, but only if they have a compelling story to go along with them to make them “real.” Rather than just saying your product or service is great, tell a story that relays why you offer your product or service. Sprinkling in little stories of customer situations to go along with the information that you’re trying to convey will make people compelled to read more and buy into why you’re the solution to their problem.
Instead of writing out a boring old About page, use your own story about why you’re doing what you’re doing. Make people feel like they know you before they pick up the phone and call. One of my favorite strategies for About pages is to have it written as if it’s a letter to your ideal client because it makes it personable, shares the story and creates a connection.
4. People scan content before they commit to reading.
Most people are going to scan information before they commit to reading, watching or listening to the content. If the person likes what they’re seeing, then they want to delve in and go deep into content. Think of movie trailers: They give you just enough to get you interested in the whole movie.
Your home page should focus on compelling headlines and a paragraph or two of information about the product or service. This leads the person to a specific page that goes into deeper detail about whatever took them there. Repeat the process here: Break up content with compelling headlines, smaller paragraphs and bullet points that then lead to more detailed information.
5. Make it visually interesting.
We’ve been trained by the internet to expect rich, visually interesting content. As important as copywriting is, you also need to be good at telling the story of your company, product and services with images and ideally, video.
The mistake people make here is similar to the writing issue: They use generic imagery that doesn’t serve a coordinated purpose. You should utilize pictures and videos that make sense relative to what you’re talking about in your content. Break up long pieces of information with graphics, charts and images — anything that can convey the data or situations you’re expressing in a visual way. Again, people will scan before they read. You want your graphic elements to be coordinated in such a way that they make people want to read the content that surrounds it. Unique, visually interesting graphics and images also serve the purpose of building up the credibility of your company as being more professional and capable.
Your website is your company’s window to the world. Done right, it can exponentially grow your business in ways that are difficult to imagine. In order to do this, we’ve got to think of them like a salesperson. Start applying these principles to your website and you’ll quickly find yourself becoming the leader in your market.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor