Every company has a website, but with a few tweaks, you can leverage yours to boost sales by developing new and existing relationships with customers.
by Richard Delahaye, Senior Director of Marketing, Barracuda MSP
This summer will mark the 30th anniversary of the very first website (you can see what it looked like here). We have undeniably come a long way from those green screen days in terms of accessibility, content and web design. Many websites still fall short of their potential, however, so here are some tips that can help draw more traffic and make your site work harder for your business.
A robust website plays a vital role in marketing and lead generation. But many companies don’t regularly revisit their page design or most visible content once the site is built and deployed. If your current website simply features a list of services, packages and prices, you’re likely under-utilizing this valuable marketing resource.
- Look at your website with a fresh set of eyes. You can do this quite literally by asking a friend or family member to look at your website and describe what your business does. The less they know about your industry the better! I can guarantee their comments will surprise you and possibly even shock you. Too many websites are internally focused, overly promotional and full of jargon. They put significant emphasis on products and services and why they think they are the best rather than what they can do for a customer. A good rule of thumb is to ask this question: would somebody landing on your homepage know what your company does in 10 seconds or less? If the answer is ‘no’ or ‘unsure’, then you need to re-write or re-design your homepage (or both!). One other similar fun exercise that I like to do with my team is to read content aloud and replace any mention of a product name or industry jargon with ‘blah blah’ – try this yourself and see if what is on your site today would make sense to someone unfamiliar with your industry, products and services.
Finally, listing your achievements and certifications is fine, but seeing how great your business is isn’t the primary reason a potential client visits your website. Try to organize your site around your customers, the challenges they are trying to solve for and the solutions you offer to overcome those problems.
- Create a variety of content types with persuasion in mind. I used to think a website needed to include everything about a company. In fact, the best websites tell visitors just enough to get them to engage further (more about that in a minute.)
What customers really want to know is: can this business solve my problem(s), can I trust them, and do they already help companies that look like mine?
Customer testimonials (in written, audio, and video format) are an excellent way to avoid the trap of only blowing your own trumpet. After all, who wants to know how great you think you are? This third-party validation of the quality and benefits of your products and services helps reassure customers that they have come to the right place.
A blog, awards, videos, and downloadable guides are all additional content types to consider for providing updates on relevant topics that customers are looking for help with. This content also showcases your leadership in your industry, differentiates you from your competition, and builds trust.
Case studies are also a popular content option, highlighting specific business challenges your company solved for a customer and the benefits the customer realized afterward.
- Make sure the search engines can find all this great content! Search drives web traffic. But, what many people don’t realize is that optimizing your website for search doesn’t have to be rocket science. There are various tools out there, but I recommend moz.com as an inexpensive way to ensure your site doesn’t get lost in cyberspace.
For a small monthly fee you’ll get recommendations and insights on how to improve your site for search, without the significant expense of hiring and retaining a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert!
Undoubtedly some people have dedicated their lives to understanding the complexities of SEO and the field is deep and wide, but a small step like the above will go a long way to improving your site’s visibility without breaking the bank.
- Visitor: “OK I’m interested. What do I do next?” Another deceptively simple step, but one that is missed by many websites: on every page, what is the next step? Is there a ‘Call Sales’ or ‘Request a Consultation’ button or similar clearly visible? This is what Marketers call a ‘Call to Action’ or CTA and is crucial to maximizing the output of any Marketing effort. Once a visitor is ready to engage, don’t make it hard for them. In the same vein, make sure your phone number, email and other contact information are prominent on every page and that contact forms are easily accessible and actually work. Try calling the number(s) on your site and see if anyone picks up. What happens out of office hours? If you leave a voicemail is someone checking those? Send an email to the email address with the simple message “if you get this email me back” and see what happens. Remember that random person you used to look at the website in the first item above? Have them browse the website on their phone, fill out a form and see if they can get someone to call them back. Is it a good user experience? When they complete the form do they get a nice message that sets expectations in terms of how soon someone will follow up? You want to make it as easy as possible for existing and potential clients to reach you with any questions they may have, or better yet a sales enquiry.
- Blogs beat email newsletters. Among the various content types described earlier, the blog is the digital asset best suited for your MSP business to showcase its personality and give existing and potential customers another way to access your expertise. Simply put, your blog can be an inexpensive tool to capture people’s attention and highlight your company’s thought leadership. Think about how you use the internet to figure out simple problems around your house. Potential customers are doing the same thing to try to figure out IT problems on their own. Publishing simple tips and how-to’s on your blog makes it easily accessible and raises awareness of your company. While some people prefer more traditional email newsletters for this kind of content, you should bear in mind that email inboxes are so crowded these days it is hard to keep people’s attention. Switching to a blog means people who are interested will come looking for your expertise, rather than being inundated with it. Of course, make sure visitors can subscribe to your blog content if they want to, and build your email database with engaged existing and potential customers.
Keeping your website up to date, creating content, and marketing your content via email and social media channels can be time-consuming. If you don’t have the internal resources to make site/content management a priority for a dedicated staff member, consider outsourcing these tasks to a marketing agency — preferably one with expertise in your field.
By heeding the tips above, your organization can better meet your customers’ needs for information on essential topics. More importantly, you also can convey a level of expertise and accessibility that will help win new business and make your existing clients want to continue doing business with you in the future.
Richard Delahaye is Senior Director of Marketing for Barracuda MSP, where he manages the company’s global marketing strategy. Richard has nearly two decades of experience in high tech B2B marketing with a track record of spearheading innovative campaigns.