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Newsletter.002.etailWorks

Why doesn’t a website bring in more customers?

The Internet is here to stay and it’s fundamentally changing the way we operate our businesses – and fast. The current tough economic conditions are accelerating web usage by both consumers and businesses; we can find information, products and services more quickly, efficiently and best of all more cheaply than ever before – so maximising the potential of your company website is vital.

But why is it that, despite the time, money and effort invested in them, many websites fail to deliver new or additional business at a satisfactory volume?

The answer is relatively straightforward – they fail to inform the visitor; they fail to engage with the visitor and fail to extract the response the company wants.

Does your website successfully achieve these 3 key objectives; is it bringing in all the business and sales it could?  If not it’s time for a review, take a good look yourself and perhaps ask your customers and colleagues for their views.

Here are some points to consider during the review:

1.     Keep it simple

Your website must inform the visitor quickly, clearly and concisely of what the company does, what products and services it offers and why it’s better than its competitors.

How many websites have you visited in the past week or two, and how many of these did you read from beginning to end?

Web users have adopted a new method of absorbing information from the web that is quite different to reading from paper; we are reluctant to read top to bottom, left to right. We erratically scan web pages looking for clues to find what we want; we have very little patience and like to find information quickly. The solution is to make the content easily digestible with clear headlines, short sentences, short paragraphs, bullet points and above all keep to the point.

2.     Make it interesting

Your website must engage with the visitor making them feel comfortable, talking in a way that is relevant to them, it must give the business a likeable and approachable personality. It is your sales and PR voice on the web so it must promote all the positive attributes of the company.

Take a cold hard look at the copy and the design and layout of your website and ask yourself “Would I find this interesting if I came across the site by chance?” Take a look at your competitors and ask yourself the same question.

Writing relevant and engaging copy is hard but crucial in developing a competitive advantage, so make sure that each page has a distinct and clear message, is focused and answers the questions your visitors will be asking and in a style they will relate to.

Search engines rate good copy highly and it’s vitally important each page is focused for them as well. Before you start writing prepare a content plan based on key word research and ensure it covers the search terms and phrases that your human visitors type in to search engines.

Copy by itself can look dull and the eye is naturally drawn to good design and graphics, but they must be relevant and add to the content. Avoid over fussy graphics, garish colours and pointless animation.

3.     Don’t make me think

The website is there to extract the response from the visitor your company wants, for example; make a purchase online, request more information, fill in an enquiry form, etc, perhaps a combination of each of these.

If the site is informative and engaging visitors should soon start thinking “OK, I like the sound of this, what do I do next?” Tell them with clear and obvious “calls to action” that are appropriate to them.  Don’t force them to hunt around for clues as to what to do or where to click next. Make it easy for them to do what you want them to, ensure the navigation is easy to understand and helps your visitors find what they want quickly and easily. There are accepted conventions for the layout of web pages, visitors subconsciously know and understand them, don’t be tempted to buck the trend just for the sake of it, it will cost business.

Here is a final thought; a company website really has just one purpose; to persuade visitors to become customers – it’s there to sell – so remove as many hurdles as possible.

About the author: James Akin-Smith has been an online retailer since 1999, most recently as founder and MD of BeCheeky.com which became the UK’s second most visited website in its sector within 2 years of launch.

He now works with business owners to help them make the most of their online presence, providing impartial advice and practical support based on real world experience.

To find out more about how etailWorks can help to improve your website and its market reach visit http://www.etailworks.co.uk

Entrepreneurial Vision – Summer 09 – Contents Page

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