“The purpose of the homepage of a website is to get the visitor to page 2.” – Marcus Sheridan
As we advance in this book, you’ll start to see the logic of each sequence. After creating your piece of authority content, you will need a place from where you can offer your content. Today, that’s your website – your home base on the web.
But what is the purpose of the website? Most companies get this wrong, and nearshore outsourcing companies are no exception. They approach their websites incorrectly, treating them as a place to inform visitors and potential clients all about their services. They describe what they do, list their services, and they even talk about the benefits and advantages of doing business with them instead of with some other outsourcing company or near shore company.
Regístrate para nuestro nuevo curso grátis:
Las 7 Claves Para Vender Tus Servicios en el Mercado de los Estados Unidos.
“What’s wrong with that?” I hear you ask. “Shouldn’t I be informing my market about what my services are?”
In a word, no.
The purpose of a website is to generate business. That’s it! That’s the one and only purpose of your website.
And the purpose of the website home page, according to Marcus Sheridan on his Sales Lion blog, is to get people to page two. If they get to page two, says Sheridan, “…they have expressed their interest. Now they’ve answered the classic retail question, ‘Can I help you find what you’re looking for?’”
Sheridan lists five classic mistakes most companies make when designing their website.
1. Using Sliders
Sheridan calls sliders “mankind’s worst invention.” Why? Because searchers today are looking to solve a problem quickly. When they come to your website, they want to find an answer to something they’re looking for. All a slider does is slow them down and distract them from that purpose.
2. Headlines that Talk About Your Products
Another mistake is using headlines and website copy that talk about your company, services and products. This is counter-intuitive, I know. But trust me (and Sheridan), on this. Customers don’t care about you, or your business. They care about solving their own problem. That’s why they’re on your website in the first place. Your headlines and copy should talk about helping your customers solve a problem or help them get something they want.
Sheridan lists an example straight from the software world (I wonder why that is? Is it, maybe, because software companies are so notoriously bad at marketing?).
Compare these two headlines:
Offering Cloud Computing services globally. Fast. Reliable. Cost Effective.
Keep your company’s records digitally backed up forever without experiencing downtime ever again. And save huge in the process.
Which is the best headline? Sheridan says the last one is the most effective, because it focuses on solving a major problem the potential customer is experiencing.
3. Talking About Company News
This is a pet peeve of mine, and I was glad Sheridan listed it. Nobody cares about your company’s news: the company picnic they went on, the latest certification they obtained, or the award they won from SAP for being “partner of the year.” Who cares about that?
Sheridan reminds us that we must continuously focus on our customers (the client pain gap as discussed in Chapter 1). Make customer-centricity central to the way we deliver our services, as we discussed in Chapter 2. Company news does not fulfill this rule.
4. Using Too Much Text
This is especially relevant to home page design. Leave all the text to second and third level pages. Use the “less is more” mantra for the home page. As Sheridan states, “Less is more. Less is more. Less is more.” Your main goal is to help your customers find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible. Too much text distracts them and confuses them.
5. Talking Too Much About Your Company
Thinking as a customer-centric company, whose goal is to help your clients close the gap between where they are now with where they want to be, you now know that talking too much about your company is a big no-no, especially on the home page. You can discuss it on the “About Us” page. But even then, talk about your company in a way that ties what you do with the problems you solve for your customers.
What’s the right way to design a website, especially if you’re a consulting or services company offering large dollar services? Turn your website into an “app.”
Let me explain.
An app is the perfect metaphor for what a modern website should be, since it fulfills what your customers want to do. Your customers want to get something done. An app helps you get things done.
When people come to your website, they want to do something too: get answers to their questions and solve their problems.
SEO, Conversion, Content
So, you’ve learned that the purpose of your website is to generate business. But, there’s one problem: your site will only generate business if people are able to find your site in the first place. That presents another problem. The traffic problem.
How are you going to drive traffic to your website? We discuss this in detail in Chapter 5, but let me touch on it a little bit here.
There are four main ways to generate traffic:
- Organic Search
- Organic Social
- Public Relations (PR)
- Paid Advertising
Let’s touch briefly on the first one, organic search.
To get organic traffic you need to perform search engine optimization (SEO). Your website needs the elements necessary for Google and other search engines to find your site and recognize it for its authoritative content that it can show users whenever they type a query into the search bar.
There are many dimensions to SEO (which we’ll discuss in a little more detail in Chapter 5). Technical SEO, such as your site’s loading speed; navigability and technical errors; content, such as whether you publish authoritative content on certain topics; bounce rate, or whether your site pulls people into page two, as Marcus Sheridan says, and your backlink profile, or how many authoritative sites link to your website.
One of the key aspects to SEO is choosing a topic or a set of topics for which you’ll optimize your site. By that, I mean choosing the keywords or keyphrases for optimization.
However, Google has been moving away from focusing on specific keywords, and instead is looking at user intent. When somebody searching on Google types something, they may not know (yet) what specific keyword or keyphrase will yield their best results. So, instead, Google has been focusing on salient entities, which are a grouping of similar keywords that reflect what the person intends to search for.
That depends on the themes or topics you want to find. When developing your website, you need to appeal to what your users are actually searching for, and that depends on how aware of their problem they are. Are they looking for answers to a problem, but don’t know a solution, such as yours, exists? Or, are they actively searching for your product or service?
Once you’ve driven traffic to your website, whether it’s through organic search traffic, after you’ve optimized your site with proper SEO techniques, or you’re driving a paid advertising campaign, then you need to focus on conversion.
What is conversion? Conversion is turning your visitors into prospects, turning your prospects into opportunities, and turning your opportunities into sales.
Your website needs to start by converting visitors into prospects. Another way to put this is to convert strangers into friends.
It’s how to get your visitors past your home page into the second page, third page, or even the fourth page of your website.
Let’s look back at the app metaphor. What is the purpose of an app on your mobile phone? To provide some kind of functionality so people can do something. People don’t go to their Uber or Starbucks app to read about Uber or Starbucks. They go to these apps to get a ride or to order a coffee.
Your site needs to have the same effect. You need to convert visitors into users of your “app,” which means you need them to do something when they get to your site. You need to get them involved, get them to take some type of action.
The best way to do that is to get them to download something of value that will help answer a burning question, or help them learn something so they can do their work better.
The most effective way to do that is to give them a way to become a customer right then and there.
Yes, that’s right. Your goal should be to get relevant visitors to become your customer at that moment.
I know what you’re thinking. Your services typically start at $20,000 for a smallish software development or BPO project. Your prospects can’t make a split-second decision to spend $20,000 in one visit, right?
I’m not talking about convincing your website visitor to become a customer of your core offering right there and then. I’m asking you to get them to make a micro-commitment to your company. An impulse buy. Something that doesn’t require them to get approval from anybody.
Let me use an analogy. McDonald’s launched their famous Dollar Menu in 2002. You could get a double cheeseburger and other items for only a dollar each. Now, think about this. Anybody can spend a dollar without even blinking. If you want a snack, but don’t want to go to the 7-11 to buy a chocolate bar or chips, just go to McDonald’s and get a cheeseburger for a dollar.
But, when you get there, you decide you want some fries. And then you want a drink. And before you know it you’ve bought a whole meal.
The analogy is a stretch, I know, but hear me out here. What if you were to offer a micro-commitment that has the same psychological effect as turning your visitor into a customer, even though they haven’t made the decision to spend $20,000 for you to build them an app?
What would that look like?
1. Sell a Book
What if you published a book and, on your website, you offered the book for one dollar? Who wouldn’t pay a dollar for a book? You could offer a physical book, sell the book for a dollar, and then charge your visitor a minimal shipping fee. This is similar to what Accelerance did with their book, Software Without Borders.
2. Offer a Free Training
You could also offer free training, such as “How to Digitally Transform Your Business.” This could be delivered as a live webinar. Now, even though it’s free (by registering for the training you’re not actually becoming a client), but if your prospect attends the training, they’re committing actual time to your company. Time is more valuable than money in most cases. Someone who dedicates an hour or two to attend one of your training sessions has just invested valuable time getting convinced to your way of thinking. They have become a “customer” in their mind.
3. Offer a Low Cost or Free Strategy Session
Offer a form on your website from which your prospects can schedule a low-cost or a free strategy session. The strategy session can be a one-on-one Skype or GoToMeeting session, or it can be an in-person session, where you get into the details of your customer’s business to create a strategic roadmap or a proof of concept.
You could create a beautiful front-end “app mockup.” Your team could create this, using HTML5 that emulates what a real app would look like, but without the back-end integrations. It would take one UX/UI expert on your team a couple of days to produce. Or you could create a business process workflow if you’re offering BPO services.
You get the picture.
In each of these cases your prospect has made an impulse decision to make a micro-commitment to your company, and what they get is something very valuable.
The excitement a realistic mockup can create can help you close your prospect on your core services. Can you imagine the look on the face of an insurance company executive when he or she sees a mockup of a self-service insurance app that looks and feels real?
They can touch it, feel it, they can visualize their customers using this application. In their mind they have already become your customer.
No website should ever be without a way for your visitors to become immediate customers.
One caveat. If you’re offering a free strategy session you need to thoroughly qualify your prospects. You don’t want to commit valuable developer resources to creating an intricate working mock-up for a startup with no money. Make sure your online form asks some serious questions about company size, the role of the person within the company, and what their goals are. Make sure you emphasize they need to enter a corporate email address, not a Gmail or Yahoo address.
Tell them How to do Business with You
What if your prospects know exactly what they want, and they want to hire a company right away? Your website should be ready to handle hot prospects who are ready to buy. Do this by teaching them exactly how to do business with you.
Describe your process for getting started, and make the getting started process easy. If your process starts by scheduling a customer interview to understand their current situation and their goals, explain how you conduct those interviews. Publish your phone number so they can call you right away. Better yet, provide a contact form on every page (put it on the sidebar of each page that describes your services).
My recommendation is to use a contact form that generates an automatic call from your company to your prospect. If all you provide is a “contact us” form – which generates an email to your sales department – answer that email within an hour or less to improve your chances of closing the deal.
Why is it important to your potential customers that you describe how to do business with you? Two reasons:
- Prospects typically don’t know what to do or how to do it. Most have never contracted outsourcing services before. By telling them exactly what to do, you’re taking them gently by the hand and setting yourself up as the trusted expert.
- When visitors come to your website, they are looking for somebody to tell them what to do. When you tell them what to do, tell them to do it right now. Say “Pick up the phone and call us at 347-555-5555.” Telling them what to do satisfies an urge they have that hasn’t been satisfied by other websites.
Explain How Your Process Works
One of the most valuable psychological tricks you can do is to get your visitors to imagine what it’s like to do business with you. There are two ways to do that: through case studies, and by describing your process.
Let me explain the importance of describing your process, and how to do it.
Create a page on your website describing how you will work with the prospect on every project. One of the big unanswered questions your prospects have when landing on your website is: “What will it be like to work with this company?”
Describing the process answers that question. It gets them to imagine what it’s like to work with you. If you follow a unique methodology, describe that. Also, describe the client onboarding process, how often you will be in contact, whether you will schedule regular weekly or daily calls with them, and how much of their time and effort you will require.
The last part is very important. Not only are they hiring you to do some work, but they know they need to be involved in the process. Their days are very busy, so knowing how much of their day-to-day they need to put in helps answer an important objection.
Be Completely Transparent
Finally, you need to be transparent. One of the biggest errors I see on the websites of many Latin American outsourcing providers is the absence of the names of executives and team members.
However, I have seen this changing. Many newer outsourcing companies share the photos and profiles of not just their executive team members, but all their developers or customer service reps (CSRs). They even share photos of office parties and company events.
This can also be taken a little too far. Posting content about your company’s Halloween party, or about how committed your people are to their jobs, is still talking about you and your company. It doesn’t talk to what you provide your customers, or the transformation you provide.
The type of transparency that works best is when you talk about your company, emphasizing the transformation you provide to your clients. Let me give you an example.
On your blog, you might discuss a new software development hack one of your developers discovered, and how this could benefit your company, or you might describe something you achieved for a client and the positive results they had because of it.
If you ever blog about your team-building retreat, don’t just talk about the retreat, talk about the five lessons you learned at the retreat that will help your customers.
The bottom line is, your website needs to sell your services. Make sure it’s easy for Google to serve up your website to people looking for the services you offer. Treat your site like an app so they can do something useful, like make a micro-commitment to become your client right away. Explain how to start doing business with your company. Help them visualize what it’s like to work with you by describing your processes.
Finally, be transparent. Share what your company does – but make it valuable to your clients.