For most businesses, where is the first contact point between the company and a prospective customer?
Before they see your ad, read your postcard mailer or receive the sales cold call, the first engagement point with your company is most probably your website. So why don’t more companies take their website seriously?
I don’t (just) mean the design and having up-to-date information on your business value offering – i.e. whatever it is that you sell. I mean having content on there that existing and prospective customers want to read. I mean having a ongoing and regular program of delivering new content that your audience will find interesting. So interesting that they’ll come back again, to consume even more of it.
Today, before a customer buys your product or service, they “buy” into your company. They listen to your story, why you do what you do – why you sell, as much as what you sell. I’ll bet you that, just as with our company, one of the most clicked-on pages on your website is the “About Us” page. If your company’s brand persona resonates with your customers, then (all things being equal) they’ll be more likely to buy from you than from someone else. The way you build that rapport is by developing content. To paraphrase Henry Russell Sanders Content is not a matter of life or death. It’s more important than that. Your content is actually one of the things that you’re selling (even if you’re giving it away). It’s your first product, and should be viewed as such.
Let me give you an example. Supposing you’re posting an ad, producing a lead-generation piece, or distributing a press release. Ten will get you five that you’re pointing the reader to your website, right? OK, but what’s the reader supposed to do when they get there? Read the press release – again? Read the contents of your product brochure, only this time in HTML form?
Buyers don’t buy stuff in the same way that they used to. Today, most buyers do their research themselves and only get in touch with the vendor company once they’re already part way along in the buying process. They already know who you are, what you sell, and how you stack-up against the competition. As a result, they don’t want to read about how great you think you are, how many employees you have, or how long you’ve been in business.
The “introduction” phase of the customer/supplier relationship is over before (as far as you’re concerned) it even began.
Once you understand the reasons why customers are coming to your website today (compared to the past) you’re half way to turning things around. Today, customers want to feel assured that buying from you isn’t going to be something that they’ll regret. They want to know about people in similar positions who’ve already bought from you. They want to know how easy it will be to buy from you. Finally, they want to know how you’re going to treat them once you have their money.
More often than not (and I’ll grant you that it depends on what you’re selling) customers are coming to your website for a pre-determined reason. They are already considering buying your product/service, and now have questions that they need answered. This will determine whether they’ll buy from you, or from someone else.
Your website needs to answer their questions – clearly, and in their own vocabulary. Moreover, your content needs to be easily accessible – two or three clicks away, at the most.
If you’re making it difficult, then you’re currently losing sales you should be closing. Potential customers are not “buying” your content and, as a result, they’re not buying whatever you’re selling. In addition, maybe they’re frustrated with how difficult it is to get the answers to their questions – and they’re telling others about it online.