When your website underperforms

I read a terrific article in Entrepreneur magazine last night by Ann Handley, chief content officer at marketingprofs.com. This article was about how to transform your underperforming website from a static brochure (you know, the kind people look at once then put away in a drawer) to a fully-functioning ‘member’ of your sales staff.

So much of it was right on target with the things I tell my own clients when they’re considering a new site or a makeover. Unfortunately, many, many websites eventually end up as static brochures. Here’s an overview of how to reverse that trend with your business website, summarizing some of the main points of Ms. Handley’s story:

  • Bigger sites get more traffic. A 2011 study by Hubspot showed that sites with 401-1,000 pages actually get 6x more leads than sites with 501-100 pages. This is one reason why being consistent about blogging can really help – remember that every blog post counts as a new page on your website.
  • Change your content. Sites that never change are no better than (expensive) static brochures and Google will eventually stop paying attention to them as it learns that nothing new continues to happen. Again, this is a great reason to have a blog, which can make it exceedingly simple to add fresh content fast.
  • Get a content management system. A CMS makes it easy for you to edit and add to pages on your website, so you don’t need to call the web developer every time you turn around.
  • Ask for your customers’ involvement. Give them a clear path to conversation with you by including calls-to-action in strategic places on your site. Have a contact form that enables you to track conversions. Get Google Voice so your customers can click a button and connect. Write a blog so they can interact with you through comments. Connect to social media pages and profiles.
  • Optimize your site. This is a big one – if you opted to forego this important step when first building your site, you can still do it. If the search engines can’t find you or your pages aren’t indexed because Google doesn’t understand what your site is about, that can be improved.
  • Measure. How will you know how well your site is working if you don’t measure? Use free Google Analytics a good starting point for understanding who’s visiting, how they got there, what they’re reading, and much more.
  • Change your focus. Too often when I receive content for a new site from a client, it’s focused on them – not their customers. Talking about all the wonderful features of your product or service is not nearly as compelling to a customer as learning about how your wonderful product or service can save them time or headaches. Talk about how you can solve their problems.
  • Interact. Blogs are great for this – they help you give customers a better sense of who you are as a real person and are good for building trust over time. Share your expertise and respond to questions and comments honestly.

Is your website not giving you the marketing boost you’d hoped for? Did it start off with a bang but has since become less compelling? Take some time to step back and look at it with these points in mind.

You can read the full article here – and believe me, it’s worth five minutes of your time.