Article by Lesley Morrissey
If you’re in business an essential part of your forward planning revolves around marketing. That includes establishing who your ideal clients are, where they can be found, what they want and who you’re in competition with.
To ensure your ideal clients get to know about you – you need a high profile. This includes both online and offline activities, but regardless of where people ‘bump into’ you, these days they go to your website to check you out.
If you don’t have a website what message are you giving? Not up-to-date; not a ‘proper’ company, can’t afford to have a professional online presence? These are not the thoughts you want running through people’s heads.
Where do you start?
As a copywriter the first question I ask my clients is what they want their website to do for them. Astonishingly, many don’t know!
So what’s the point of having a website? It could be:
• To ensure people can find you online when they’re looking
• To create a digital brochure and save lots of trees by not having a hard copy version
• Because nobody will take you seriously if you don’t have an online presence
• To allow you to raise your online profile so more potential clients are aware of what you do
• To use as a platform for blogging, social media, sharing knowledge, etc.
There’s no ‘right’ answer (and it may be more than one of the above) – but there must be an answer; a website for no reason won’t work.
How do you get a really good website?
Even the best web designer won’t be able to deliver to your expectations without a bit of guidance. Before you talk to a web designer you need to do some research.
1. First you need to know what your visitor wants – a good way to find this out is to ask your existing clients why they buy you and not someone else who does what you do. This will help you to get your message focused and help you to focus on what people want.
2. Know what you want visitors to do on each page – whether that is to sign up to your list, email or phone you, comment on your blog, fill in a form or download a document.
3. Have a good idea what you want the site to look like – if you leave your designer with no guidance you’ll get an ‘all right’ site, rather than something that excites you. It’s not the designer’s fault, they’re not clairvoyant!
a. Give them a colour scheme – usually related to your brand;
b. Give them the web addresses of sites you like the look of (it doesn’t matter what industry, we’re looking at aesthetics);
c. Create a clear brief – even if it’s only a couple of paragraphs.
4. Check out the work of designers you’re thinking of using. Even the best designers have a style and you need to be sure you like it. Don’t sacrifice quality for price.
5. Give careful thought to your content. It doesn’t matter how well you write English (or whatever language your site will be in), writing commercial copy is a specialised skill – and the quickest way to get people to leave your site is to have a weak message presented poorly.
6. Create a time frame – and get your designer (and copywriter if you’re using one) to commit to it. Websites are famous for dragging on for months (sometimes years) as deadlines are missed.
Getting and keeping visitors
Traffic to your website can be channelled in various ways. You can:
• Pay for a professional search engine optimisation (SEO) service.
• Run a Google Adwords campaign (or pay an expert to run it for you).
• Place banner ads or small ads on other people’s websites.
• Include a link to your website in all your social media activity.
• Submit blogs and articles to other sites (with your web link included)
However, getting people to visit your website is only half the equation. Online most of us are impatient and lazy; this means that your message has to hit your visitor clearly and quickly.
Strong headlines, good copy and an understanding of how people process the information on their screens all contribute to creating what people describe as a ‘sticky’ website. Get your web designer to load Google Analytics on your website and you’ll be able to track how fast people leave your site and tweak your content.
It’s not as ‘techie’ as it seems – it’s a logical process, but an important step if you have a business. Your website reflects the quality and professionalism of your offering – it’s essential that you get it right.
Commercial copywriter and expert in readability
With more than 30 years writing experience Lesley has studied not only what people read, but also how people read. She specialises in helping people to create the message that their target audience want to read and present it so that the message gets through quickly and easily.