One of the most important considerations one can make in valuing their website is how effective it is as a sales asset. The web is a versatile place, and a website can offer great value for a first time visitor (read: “potential customer/client”) when proper and intentional web design and development practices are followed.
The content at many websites’ core is informative. The assumption that *web surfers* can and will find your website, read through it, build trust in you because of it, and purchase through it is a lot to go on. To successfully utilize a website as a sales asset, your online presence should be showing and inviting your visitors in such a way that naturally informs, but also engages. Shouting your hours and location across the screen doesn’t work anymore; your website can serve a greater purpose than assuming its role as a digital business card. To expound, consider a few things when viewing your website as the sales tool it really is…
Consideration 1: Search, and showing up for it.
There’s a lot of information that shows up when you perform a search on Google. Without going into too much detail, it’s safe to say there’s a method and madness to the art of ranking on a search engine results page (SERP). Organic and paid marketing efforts are both open roads to travel when considering search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, and each have benefits of their own. The important thing to identify is that most serious website owners are aware of these avenues, and are pulling strings to make the SEO puppet move in their favor. Recognizing your website as a sales tool means viewing your competitor’s website as a competing sales agent. It’s important to work towards competitive search rankings with them to show your worth. You currently might need to prove why a potential customer or client should buy from you, when you’re living on Page 7 of Google, when they can get all they need from Page 1. The best way to do so is to work towards showing up on Page 1, and let the website itself handle the rest.
Consideration 2: Visitors, and converting them.
The idea of proving your website’s worth brings us to the next factor in utilizing your website as a sales asset: conversion goals. Conversion is the act of converting your potential customer or client into an actual customer or client. How you define your conversion goals will be specific to your own business. You might solely desire your visitors to complete an inquiry form, or you might want a full fledge sale of a product or service via an eCommerce solution. Both are equally suitable definitions of a conversion goal, and both cater to the needs of differing business models and website purposes.
You might ask, though, “How exactly can I encourage or reinforce my overall conversion goal(s)?” That’s a good question! Now you’re starting to think of your website as a sales tool. Realizing that conversion optimization is an always evolving process is a great place to start. In terms of tangible advice, consider the following:
- User Experience Driven Design
User Experience (UX) Driven Design is the concept of designing website pages or elements while working to create the best experience a user can have on a website. Website design plays a large role in conversion, as the design typically dictates what the user sees while on your site, and how (well) they process it. Influencing the experience itself in design allows you to create a natural workflow towards your conversion goals.
- Establishing a Primary Call-to-Action and/or a Primary Call-to-Action Color
A call-to-action is an opportunity a website offers a visitor to act; some common calls-to-action are “Learn More,” “Read More,” or “Contact Us.” Remember to make your primary call-to-action something compelling and worth acting on — that goes back to the idea of inviting and showing your website visitor aspects of your business rather than plainly telling them information. When possible, keep your call-to-action colors in contrast with the rest of your website’s design, so they stand out and pose greater opportunity for action.
- Convey Trust via Design
If a picture’s worth a thousand words, web design utilizing pictures is worth…a lot more words. Web design is one of the first factors of your site a visitor will engage with, and how you choose to represent yourself online can say a lot about your product or service. Hospitality goes a long way in a face to face environment, and the same idea holds true online. Present yourself via design in such a way that you not only reinforce the fact that you’re more reliable than your competition, but also in a way that creates the comfort and security your want your potential customers to find in you.
- Track your Progress
Google Analytics provides great insight when dealing with conversion optimization, and enables data to speak for itself when making website adjustments. If you know, for instance, that you receive very few inquiries from your site, you might conclude it’s time for some conversion optimization adjustments. Establishing Conversion Goals in Analytics can help further identify where issues may lay, as Analytics Reports can provide clues as to when and where people are entering your website, what actions they are or are not taking while on the site, and when and where they leave the site. Such data should enable direct action for future conversion optimization revisions.
Consideration 3: Conversions, and leveraging them.
Congratulations, you converted a visitor to a customer! Now what? You might think your website has done its part in the sales process, and you can sit back and watch the money roll in, right? Wrong! Remember when I said conversion optimization was an everlasting process? That means there’s always more work to do.
The fact that your website was able to help solidify a sale is great news; now that you have a customer, use it to support your sales funnel and conversion goals! Client Testimonials are a great way to showcase how wonderfully your clients think of you. The fact that Client A found you online, built trust in you via your website, reached out to you, and is now happy with your good or service is a strong message to promote to your future prospective customers/clients. Another way to really utilize past business to help sell new business is in the form of case studies. Consider a case study as a sales pitch showcasing how you exceeded Client A’s expectations and needs, and how happy they are that they contacted you. These case studies can stand alone as success stories, or can take the form of landing pages summarizing your services, and show (not tell, remember?) how well you perform at each specific service you offer.
As with any part of business, utilizing your website as a sales asset takes a lot of work. However, don’t feel like you’re in this alone! You might find the assistance of an outside consultant will set you up for the most success. There are people who specialize in website design, development, and conversion optimization for a reason, and picking their brain to get the job done right may not be a bad idea!