Every company sells the same thing.
You may think that your company is selling a product or a service. But it’s not that simple.
Your company is actually selling an experience. Why? Because that’s what people are buying. And that’s not even the best part. People are willing to pay more for a better experience.
An organization creates an experience every time it interacts with a customer at every step along the way from nurturing, engaging, purchasing, delivery and support. The compilation of outcomes from each stage makes up the “experience,” which customers process to determine future buying decisions.
Bottom line: Walt Disney isn’t the only company selling an experience. Your company is—and it all starts with your website.
Before you start developing your next digital marketing campaign with social media, public relations and advertising, you must spend energy on your website. After all, it is the center of your digital universe. Your website is the embodiment of your organization. It’s a first impression that continues to drive sales and revenue.
But not all websites are created equally. Here is a checklist of things that you must consider if you plan to turn your website into an ATM machine:
1. Branding. A brand is a story that makes a promise, meaning it sets expectations. Your website is the vehicle that communicates the first chapter of your organization’s story, which includes your mission, values and commitment. Branding is all-encompassing, joining the written word with visual elements. For example, key messaging is a compilation of talking points that tell your brand story. These talking points should be splashed across all of your webpages. But to make them more memorable, you will need the right colors and shapes and shades that complement your logo and create flow throughout your site. Developing visual and written content that capture the essence of your brand is the first step toward monetizing your website.
2. Stunning Homepage. Of course, a compelling homepage includes powerful imagery to make it stand out. But there are other web elements that you may experience, which will leave you feeling wowed. Your website’s navigation and overall structure, for example, must make each session an easy-to-follow, self-explanatory trip. Is it easy to find the information you’re looking for? Can I ask for help? Am I able to search? A website’s design is another element that leads to a stunning homepage. Proper design helps move users from the early stage of the buy cycle (i.e., product pages, market pages) where visitors spend time learning about your organization to the nurturing stage (i.e., blog, social media buttons, case studies and guides) to purchase (i.e., Locate Your Sales Rep page, Make an Appointment page).
3. Immediate Page Loading. The lack of speed can kill any web experience. In a world built more and more on instant gratification, frozen pages and spinning wheels won’t help your cause. Consider these survey results: 1) One in four visitors would abandon a website that takes more than four seconds to load, 2) 46% of visitors don’t revisit poorly performing websites, 3) 64% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with their visit will shop somewhere else next time, and 4) a one-second delay reduces customer satisfaction by 16%. You must consider load times as much as any other design element. Be mindful of image sizes and make sure to compress anything larger than 800kb.
4. Mobile Friendly. Most people read their emails and click on PPC ads from their phones. Google considers the mobile version of your website to rank it. Plus, mobile is always on, which is why your website should always be connected. Seventy seven percent of mobile searches occur at home or at work and on average, a mobile search triggers two follow up actions such as a visit or a call to your business. It’s more important now than ever to focus on the mobile-first index.
5. Responsive Design. A responsive website design (RWD) is a design and development technique that enhances a user’s browsing experience by creating a flexible and responsive web page that is optimized for any device from a mobile phone to a desktop computer or laptop. It ensures your website fits the screens of different devices automatically, displaying the content in a way that users expect. Marketing has become a “long-tail” effort, where splintering affinity groups pop up each day. You don’t always know where you can find your prospects at any time, so cover all your bases. Remember, 93% of people admit to leaving a website because it didn’t display properly on their device.
6. SEO Friendly. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process that presents your website pages and content in a way that moves those items higher in search results, leading to more online traffic and conversions.
For example, the No. 1 result in Google gets about 32% of all clicks. Almost half of your prospects read 3-5 articles before they contact your salesperson. To improve your search results, there are on-page SEO factors to consider, such as content, keywords, title tags, meta data and URL structure to name a few. There also are off-page factors, which are a little more out of your control, such as backlinks, domain authority, as well as social media promotion and even pay-per-click ad campaigns.
7. Search Feature. Goal-driven web visitors (40+%) head right to the search box. That’s important because these searchers are more likely to convert than those visitors who are simply browsing. In fact, about 10%-30% of your overall sessions should involve your search feature. If site visits use search less than 10%, you should review the size of your search box and the site’s overall experience. While all aspects of your website play a role in driving conversions, the search feature is a major player in turning your site into an ATM machine in a digital space.
8. Better Conversion. A better website is all about higher conversion rates. There are many levers you can pull to improve your numbers. From a content perspective, you can add more “down-funnel” content like testimonials, reviews, success stories and case studies. You could also improve your call-to-action (CTA) through a series of testing. From a technical perspective, you could streamline your site’s design, remove unnecessary fields and add a pop-up form. From a business perspective, you could develop a better risk-free offer coupled with an upsell. Overall, make sure your search box is efficient because it generates 30%-60% of your conversions.
9. Content Management System. A content management system (CMS) allows organizations to manage and maintain their webpages without the help of a developer. Being able to make changes to your content on your site on a day-to-day basis—without the need for high-end personnel—can be extremely cost effective. A CMS also allows a group of team members to have access to the website and collaborate on the same or different projects. In addition, a CMS provides tools and plugins to help your site be found in search results.
10. Social Media Integration. Integrating your social media channels with your website gives your target audiences another way to interact with your brand. This type of integration increases your company’s reach, awareness and engagement—which builds a higher level of commitment with your existing customers and prospects over time on your social media platforms. Placing social media buttons on your site, for example, allows users to share your content without having to copy-paste the URL. Let’s face it: The first rule in sales is, “Make it easy.” As we acclimate toward a new world with remote work and remote meetings, smart tweaks that increase connections will pay dividends in the long run.
11. On-Site Security. Amid a pandemic, cybersecurity is still extremely important. In March 2020, online scams spiked by more than 400% and Google has revealed it is blocking more than 18 million malware and phishing emails related to COVID-19 every day. On-site security is invaluable because it protects your assets, starting with your customers. It also protects your reputation and proprietary information, as well as sales. On the upside, providing state-of-the-art, on-site security could be leveraged as a competitive advantage in the marketplace, as well as a new level of comfort for your organization’s leadership.
Are you ready to turn your website into an ATM machine?