The absolute best advice about what your website should say
There is a trend out there among websites that is robbing organizations of opportunities. You spot it right there on the homepage of too many sites – a formula that goes like this: "We are a (type of company) that (what you do) in order to (how it applies)."
It's kind of like meeting somebody for the first time and having them immediately launch into talking about themselves.
"Here's who I am. Here's what I do and what it means. So, let's do business."
How long would you last in that little engagement?
The point is, that's how a majority of sites treat us. This has become so prevalent that there are guys selling "marketing systems" that actually promote doing this. I saw one that said that every site should immediately do three things:
- Tell them what you do
- Tell them why that applies to you
- Tell them how to do business with you
It totally disregards visitors and our needs and desires. In fact, it doesn't treat us like visitors at all. It's like they view us as suckers that hit the Google "I'm Feeling Lucky" button and just happened to land on their site. And somehow they are going to convert us. So, yeah, in this situation I guess you would have to tell us what you do, why it applies to us, and how we can do business with you. But if you sell industrial solvents and I'm a ballet choreographer, I'm pretty sure it's not going to matter what you say.
This also explains why we become so enthralled when a site breaks from this norm. When we feel like the brand is in tune with us and more concerned with our needs and desires.
The customer journey holds key
People aren't looking to just stumble onto our sites. They are coming because of a search result, or a search ad, or a mention of our organization in the news, and more. And they are in a certain frame of mind. They are going through a process of solving a problem they have or trying to figure out how to take advantage of an opportunity. This is called the customer journey. Understanding how they go through this journey unlocks incredibly valuable insights like:
- Who they are
- How they get to our sites
- What they are looking for at that moment
- Their mindset at that place in time
Imagine having an understanding of that. Then imagine speaking with them in a manner that matches up to who they are and what they really desire. That is how great relationships begin.
What about that absolute best advice about what my website should say?
I don't have that advice for you. But I know someone who does. It's your prospects. Sketch out their journey. Use your analytics and customer research. At the very least, talk to your frontline people. They will tell you the most common questions and the objections they get (and can probably give you some pretty astute observations on where the prospects are in the journey). These don't have to be elaborate or perfect. It is more important to start and to iterate as we learn.
If we know our prospects journey (and where they potentially are in that journey when they hit our site) we can begin to craft relevant, meaningful, and compelling ideas to share with them. Ideas that will make them feel like we really understand them and what's valuable to them. That's way better than immediately smacking them with a whole bunch of talk about ourselves.
You're probably getting to the same point that I am – that it's not just about what our website says. It's about what it relates. How it empathizes. How it starts a conversation. And how it inspires. You're probably saying, "That's exactly what a great brand does. It's what the great ones have done for years and years."
I agree. And that's exactly how we should view our site. It's our brand. Maybe we should get back to letting it do everything it could do for our organization.