In 2016 I’m still amazed at how many companies don’t have any information on their websites.
The other day I saw a pretty cool looking house. There was a sign in front of it that had the name of the company that built it and I decided to look them up on the Internet.
On their website I found a quick about page, some testimonials (I’m impressed they actually had these), some contact information, some random photos of random houses they built and a list of houses they had built that already sold with maybe a quick 1-2 minute video and nothing else.
None of the information I expected to find was there. There was:
- No information about the standard models of houses they build
- No information about exterior or interior options and upgrades
- No floor plans
- No information that would indicate how much one of these houses might cost
- No information about how their home building process works
- No information about what to expect if I contact them
If I was someone looking to build a house I would have been incredibly frustrated. I checked out a couple other websites of home builders in my city and their websites weren’t much better.
This is a huge problem that affects a huge number of companies that are stuck doing business the same way they did 20 even 10 years ago.
How selling things works now that we have the Internet
The Internet has completely changed the sales process.
Before the Internet people didn’t really know what they wanted. They might have a general idea but nothing more.
They had to pull out a phone book and look for companies then visit those companies in person and talk to a salesperson.
The salesperson would have a whole process that they’d run through where they built rapport, explained the products and ultimately closed the sale.
If you wanted to compare different products from different companies you’d have to visit each of these companies separately, talk to salespeople at each one who would all tell you their product was best and hopefully get enough information to decide who you wanted to buy from.
The Internet has completely changed how this works.
Today the first place people go is the Internet.
Lets say someone wants to buy a car. The first place they’ll go to is Google where they’ll do searches for brand keywords like “Honda”, “Toyota”, etc.
They’ll go through all the different cars and information on the manufacturers’ websites and figure out exactly what they want. They’ll also search for reviews and advice from blogs and social media to help them make a decision.
Once they know exactly what they want to buy they’ll head back to Google and do searches like “Honda dealers in my city”.
If you don’t have a website that’s optimized for local search and you miss out on this step then you’re not going to get any business but that’s a whole other topic.
Next they’ll do research into the different companies that sell what they’re looking for. They’ll look up reviews, testimonials, complaints, etc.
When they’ve found a company they feel they can trust then, and only then will they either pick up the phone or make a trip to visit them in person.
They’ll walk in knowing pretty much exactly what they want and in many cases they’re way more knowledgable than the salespeople working at the store.
People today don’t have time to set up appointments with 5 different companies to figure things out. They need to be able to easily find all the information they need on the Internet.
If someone is on your website and you don’t have the information they’re looking for then they’ll leave and try the next company’s website. They probably won’t come back and you’ve lost that customer.
What you absolutely need to have on your website
There are a few things that you absolutely need to have on your website. I’ll use home builders again as an example.
There needs to be information about your company including contact information, hours of operation, your location and a quick bit of information about your company.
Including some information and photos about your staff is also a bonus as it helps humanize you and makes potential customers trust you more.
If there’s a holiday and your hours are changing this information needs to be big and easy to see so it can’t be missed.
I need to know what products or services you sell and what the options are.
If I’m looking to buy a house I need to know what models you sell with information about their base features and floor plans.
There needs to be information about all the different interior and exterior options and upgrades. If there are 3 different kinds of kitchen cabinets I can have then show that to me.
Include photos of everything and if possible include videos as well.
After looking at your website I need to have a pretty good idea what you offer so I can compare it to other companies.
Managers are often worried that if they put this information on their website people will see that they don’t have what they want and move on. If they at least call or come in then their salespeople can try to sell them on something different.
This is the old and wrong way of thinking. If you don’t have the information that someone is looking for they’ll leave your website and try someone else.
If you have your product information on your site the user might also see something they hadn’t considered, something that they like better instead.
If this information wasn’t there they would have just moved on to a different website and never known that you offered something that was better than what they were looking for.
Plus the easier you make it for someone to find what they’re looking for then the more likely they’re going to do business with you.
If you have an easy to use website that explains everything I need to know then I’m way more likely to do business with you than a competitor with a frustrating website.
Also, if this whole process is frustrating for the customer when they contact you they’re already feeling pretty negative about the whole thing and it’s much better that they’re contacting you because they’re excited about what they saw on your website.
You absolutely need to have pricing information on your website.
This is another thing that managers are often afraid to make public because they’re worried it’ll discourage people from buying from them or start a price war with their competitors.
If someone inquires with them about the price then at least there’s a process the salespeople can do to hopefully convince them to buy at that price anyways.
Unfortunately if you don’t have pricing on your website people aren’t going to do business with you.
In the age of the Internet if you’re not transparent with your pricing people aren’t going to trust you.
At the very least there has to be an idea of what to expect.
If I’m looking at building a house I’m sure the different models all have base prices and the different options all cost an additional amount.
Sure you can probably negotiate a bit but I at least need to know a rough idea of what I can expect.
Without this information you’re just wasting everyone’s time setting up appointments with people who don’t have a big enough budget.
Again, if you don’t have this information on your site people will leave and simply check the next site.
Even SpaceX has their pricing listed on their website. I know that it’ll cost me $62 million to launch a Falcon 9 rocket with a max of 50,265lbs into geosynchronous transfer orbit.
If SpaceX can put their pricing on their website then you can too.
What to do next
Once someone has figured out everything they need from your website you need to make it obvious what to do next.
Do they need to call to make an appointment? Can they order online through your website or a distributor somewhere? Is your product available in stores?
You need to have a strong call to action message that makes it very obvious what to do next.
If someone is confused about what to do next you risk them procrastinating and the longer they wait the less likely they are to buy.
This ties into rule #3 of direct marketing, “You will give clear instructions” it’s also part of good, conversion-oriented web design.
It’s also important to talk briefly about design. Your website is your virtual storefront and since everyone goes to the Internet before they do anything this is where you make your first impression.
If your website looks terrible, is confusing to use and I can’t find any information then why would I do business with you?
You’ve just made a very terrible impression.
Not only do you need good design but it also needs to designed around converting me into a customer.
There needs to be clear instructions and calls-to-action explaining exactly what I need to do next otherwise I’ll get bored and wander away from your website.
Testimonials go a huge way towards helping people decide to do business with you.
If you have a big collection of happy customers talking about their positive experiences with you that is massively huge for building trust with potential customers.
If you don’t have any testimonials than people might think you have something to hide.
Having a properly designed website with all the relevant information is more important than ever.
If someone can’t find what they need on your site they’re going to leave and you’ve lost their business forever.
If you’re reading this please put as much information as you can on your website to make it much easier for people like me to do business with you.
I build really great looking websites that not only have excellent design but are also focused on converting your vistors into customers.