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Is your website content designed to convert?

I have recently been doing some marketing research online and I have noticed a disturbing trend among small businesses -- Old, outdated and ineffective websites. If you have not done anything with your business website in the past year or two perhaps you are likely losing business because of it.

Here are my findings and some solutions.

Your website's content should have one goal, to convert a visitor into a customer. Recently I was shocked to see first hand how spectacularly a website can fail.

Here's the story...

A message on my answering machine was left by a man who implied that he knew my wife and had gotten her phone number through a "roundabout way" and could she please give him a call back. She did not recognize the name nor the number but our curiosity was piqued.

Aside from the obviously shady introduction, I decided to try and discover some more information. Since I had both a name and a number, a brief search on Google gave me the results I needed, including a website. The landing page had the title, “Discover the Real Secret to Living the Life of Your Dreams!”, a form to subscribe for “Free Info” and an embedded video that was BROKEN. Yes, that’s right… his main sales pitch, the reason for the landing page, was not working.

Let’s put it into a different perspective. Imagine inviting a customer to your store only to have them find the front door locked. How many sales will you make in that scenario?

As I mentioned above, these past few months I have been doing some market research for my own business. In doing this I looked at many local business websites and discovered a startling trend. Here are the top three issues I encountered;

Outdated layouts

The number one problem encountered were outdated sites, some as old as ten years. That is a long time to not update anything. Remember, your site works for you 24/7 and is often the first impression people get regarding your business. Website technology has advanced rapidly and your site should reflect those changes. The primary motivator for these advancements is mobile technology.

People are using smart phone more to do their research with these days and your website should be responsive to this advancement. You don't need to spend a fortune. Wordpress is the leading website management tool and many of their products are free to use. If you don't have a complex site you can build (or rebuild) your website in a weekend. There are plenty of tutorials online to guide you.

If you feel you are not internet savvy or your site is a little more complex than you care to tackle, find a knowledgeable relative or hire someone to help you. Here are a five things to consider when updating;
  • Find a responsive layout, one that works cross platform from desktops to tablets to mobile phones.
  • Do not use flash for fancy or gimmicky effects or videos. Most modern browsers are no longer supporting this old technology.
  • Make sure you are up to date with HTML5 and CSS formatting. This will guarantee your website looks presentable.
  • Check all image links and URLs. Nothing is more frustrating than broken links that go nowhere.
  • Ensure you have the proper SEO information. Google has really been pushing this lately.

Missing contact information

This one I simply can not understand. I will find a site for a small business or restaurant and want to find out where they are located. The first place I look is on the front landing page (it can usually be found in the footer section at the bottom). If I can't find it there I will click on the Contact menu item or the About menu item (if there is no contact link) and... It's not there either? It's as if they don't want people to know where their business is.

I don't know if it's some false sense of maintaining personal internet anonymity or what, but If I need... let's suppose... a repairman to fix my dishwasher, I would want to know if the business I am looking at online is a local business.

Far too many websites I visited lacked this simple basic information that can be found on every standard business card. A customer should not have to play detective to find a phone number or address. Take a few minutes and pretend you are a clueless customer looking for your services. How easy is it to get to the right information?

Too many downloadables

To be fair, I found restaurants to be the biggest culprit of this annoyance.

As I mentioned above, mobile technology has gained widespread popularity for accessing the internet. Whether it's through an app, a search engine like Google or Bing, or directly through a web browser, these handheld devices are here to stay. Unfortunately they have neither the processing power nor the data storage for downloading something as simple as your restaurant's menu.

For one, you are forcing someone to spend data transfer fees just for the privilege of checking out your menu when it can easily (and faster) be done on a dedicated page. Secondly, most of these are in PDF format which requires a seperate app for reading them. If they don't have a PDF reader, that menu does them, and you, no good.

Similar problems are found in other business sites that offer information of any kind as a PDF download. I can understand if its a small booklet or maybe sales spec sheets, but take a few minutes to determine if that information can't be better served as a clickable web page instead. It makes updating information easier for you and it makes accessing the information easier for your customers.


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