Hello SOTGC Community,
We all know our website is critical to the success of our business. Simply having a website isn’t enough because every competitor has one too. Because our website is the most critical communication tool we have, we naturally want to make sure we are doing everything we can to make it work in our favor. A good place to start is to make sure these seven essential elements your website needs to be competitive are in place. With these elements in place, you’ll have a distinct advantage over your competitors, ensuring a strong and secure online presence for your business to grow and thrive well into the future.
1. Clear and Effective Branding– Your website needs a strong brand identity that’s clear from the moment your visitor arrives. Often people confuse branding with their own personal style, but it’s not the same thing. A website designed to reflect your personal style will resonate with you, but not necessarily your ideal clients.
Your brand, on the other hand, goes beyond the visual look and feel of your website. Visuals are a critical component of your brand, but a small part of the whole. Your brand is a common thread that runs throughout every facet of your business–written copy, visuals (images, colors, graphics, and layout), product and service lines, and the experience visitors, customers, and clients have with your business at every contact–and it answers these questions:
- What do you do (can you solve my problem)?
- Who do you do it for (are you the right person/business to solve my problem)?
- Why should it matter to me (what are the lasting benefits I’ll receive when you solve my problem)?
Your brand will set you apart from your competition, and tell the story of how you’re different from your competitors. At the same time, it tells your ideal clients and customers that you’re going to provide the perfect-fit solution for them. When your brand does this, your business thrives because your ideal clients and customers remember you, return to and buy from you, and recommend you to others.
If you’re unsure of your brand identity, consider setting up a Remarkable Brand Jam Session so I can help you get clear on this foundational aspect of your business.
2. A Compelling Reason to Join Your List – The average person needs 5-7 contacts with your brand before they’ll buy. You need to have a way to stay in touch with someone who visits your website for the first time because it’s highly unlikely they will become a customer at that point. People are inundated by email, so if you want them to sign up for your list, you have to give them a compelling reason do so. Think about what you can give someone who is kind enough to sign up for your list and let you stay in touch with them. What’s your area of expertise? Can you create some tips or an eBook to make signing up for your list worthwhile? Free training, or other incentives can also work well, so just think about your visitor’s pain points and provide solutions for them–if they see you are offering value, they’ll be happy to sign up for your list.
3. Mobile Optimized – Your website is mobile optimized if the design adjusts (and looks good) on a desktop computer, tablet, smartphone, or any other device browser in a way that ensures your most important information is visible. In 2014, 50 percent of internet users are browsing the internet with mobile*. In 2013, smartphones far outsold desktop computers, and the numbers keep going up. To bring it home, ask yourself how many adults you know personally who keep a smartphone within reach at all times. It’s clearer than ever before, we need to make sure to provide a mobile-friendly experience for our website visitors. If we don’t, they can easily find a mobile-friendly competitor to do business with instead.
If you’re not sure whether or not your website it mobile-optimized, contact me for a complimentary consultation to find out.
4. Simple Navigation– When people go online, they’re looking for something specific, and want to find what they are looking for quickly without having to think. The best websites make it super easy to find what you’re looking for.
Place your main navigation in a conventional spot where people expect to find it (and keep it visible on every page of your website), so visitors don’t have to search around looking for what they want. Keep it short and simple (About vs. About the Company) so it’s not cluttered with words. Choose words that describe what’s on the page, so people don’t have to guess what you might be saying in that section of your website.
Also, make your contact information clearly accessible from every page of your website–you don’t have to add it to every page (you can), but if you don’t, just be sure Contact is in the main navigation so it’s easy to find.
5. Visitor Friendly Design and Layout – In addition to making sure the visual aspect of your brand is clear through your design (colors and images), it’s important to ensure the whole experience is friendly for your visitor. That means making sure there’s plenty of space between elements, so things aren’t crowded (creating a cluttered, disorganized feeling and making it difficult for visitors to know where to look).
Make your copy easy to scan, so it’s a no-brainer for your visitor to know what you want them to do, and where to find what they want. Use large, easy-to-read fonts, with good contrast for effortless reading. Direct your visitor’s attention with interesting graphics and images to enhance your message, break up the content, and give visual brand cues throughout. And remember to check the links on your website every so often, so you can take out or fix any broken ones (because few things frustrate visitors more than clicking on a link only to end up someplace different from they want to go).
6. A Blog with Exceptional Content – Your blog gives you a way to make sure the content on your website stays fresh (which is critical for search engine findability online), and establish your expertise in your industry. It can be difficult to know what to write about on your blog, and sometimes it feels as though your competitors have already written about everything you would anyway. But the reality is you can write about it in a way that adds exceptional value for your audience. Yes, there is a ton of information out there–but most of it isn’t quality. That’s where you can shine for your audience. You can cover topics in a way that’s simpler, more humorous, insightful, inspirational, and more relevant than your competitors. If you think about the topic from your ideal customer/audience point of view and consider what will help them the most, you’ll come up with all the ideas you need to share information that will serve them. You’ll be letting them get to know and trust you as their go-to expert for your niche.
7. Social Media Integration– Every social media outpost you have for your business is another (highly visible) way people can find your business online. If you want to make sure your business is as competitive as possible, set up a presence on as many social media channels as you can manage. At a minimum, make sure you set up a page for your business on Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, and Facebook, and install share buttons on your website so it’s easy for your visitors to share your content–and remember to ask them to share!
If you need help creating a plan for social media, setting up a presence for your business on social media sites, and/or integrating social media onto your website, consider scheduling a Social Media Jam Session so I can guide you through the process.
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