When I ask business owners what first comes to mind when they think of their “Online Presence,” most will say, “My website.” Another common reply is their social media, but the majority of the people I ask will mention their website. While a complete online presence is much more than a website by itself, the website is the central part. And more importantly, being able to speak to and convert your visitors into leads.
In fact, the website is usually the central part of most marketing and advertising, even non-digital channels. Think about it, your company’s business card links back to the website (or social media page). Billboards, TV ads, and the like, while they have other common calls-to-action (phone number or address), the majority of them include your website address. Most people, including yourself, are much more likely to follow up and learn the information if there is a website attached. Nowadays, you are just too busy to physically visit a storefront or even call and wait in a queue.
The importance of having a website that can speak to your audience and answer all their questions is paramount. Many times, businesses have a website and feel that simply having a presence is enough to “check off the box” and move on. Yes, having a website is better than not having one. But, what’s the purpose? How does your website benefit your customers, interested shoppers, and potential leads? How does this check-off-the-box website grow your business?
The 3 Elements: Questions that your website should address
- Do I like this company?
- Can I trust this company to solve my problem completely?
- What’s the next step?
Is your company likable?
Does the visitor like your company? People, including yourself, will buy from specific brands over others, even if it is more expensive or less convenient, due to loyalty/likability. Don’t act like you don’t drive an extra 5 miles to fill up at the gas station that you have a rewards card for, or that you don’t succumb to the stress of shopping during Christmas because you would rather give your money to a local business than to Amazon. Likability is a big factor in how a visitor perceives your company and it affects whether or not they are going to give you their money.
Your company’s website can play a huge role in how your company is perceived. Have a personality. Stand for principles and what you think is right. Be selective with who you work with. A well-designed website can convey all of this information to the visitor and your company can thrive because of it.
Do you convey the right level of trust to your visitors?
This question is a loaded one and demands a lot of attention. First off, trust. Does your website represent your company as trustworthy? Do you flaunt your successes and express your accolades? Does your website’s design look professional? If any of these are a “no,” then you may be losing out on the battle early.
Pro tip: Aside from on-site elements, build accurate local citations and listings can instill a level of trust for potential customers seeking your services!
Visitors that do not know your company needs to be made to feel comfortable. Establishing trust quickly is an effective way to create this level of comfort. Yes, you must brag. Don’t think of it as bragging, though, all you are doing is telling the visitor what makes your company unique. Your accomplishments will be what sets you apart from the fly-by-night companies in your industry. Flaunt it. Until you reach the notoriety of Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Kleenex, or Facebook, you should work hard to create a trustworthy environment (heck, even Facebook is still struggling with this!).
Secondly, can you actually solve the problem of the visitor? Visitors come in all shapes and sizes. Some visitors do not know a thing about you, others have heard a lot. Some have purchased from you in the past, others are about to make their first purchase. Some have had negative experiences with companies in your industry in the past, others have had great experiences and are simply looking for alternatives. There are many more. Identifying which visitor exists, and choosing which you want to speak to is an important step in this process of creating a complete website. That visitor, no matter where they are in their buying and/or research phase, needs to be engaged with. Your website must speak directly to them and address their concerns.
Can you solve their problem? If so, they need to know it. If you also establish trust as I mentioned before, you can also ensure the visitor that your company can solve their problem “completely.”
Does your visitor know how to move forward?
Most websites, even poorly-made cheap websites, have either a contact form or a phone number. The reason is obvious, we want a visitor to know how to contact us. But, what if they aren’t ready?
Sometimes, a visitor who discovers your company will like you, and maybe even trust you, but they just aren’t ready to pull the trigger. They aren’t yet ready to call or email you. This isn’t always the case, of course. If your company sells foot itch powder of cleans up flood damage, chances are the visitor isn’t going to wait around too long before picking up the phone. But when your company solves something of lesser urgency, visitors will undoubtedly drag their feet for a while.
So, what’s the next step when a visitor is interested, but not that interested? That’s what your website should be able to deliver.
Having a website is a digital presence, yes, but it is not a complete online presence. In fact, as we’ve seen here, many companies do not even have a complete website, which is only a component of a rock-solid online presence.
People talk, search, research, compare, rate, review, buy, and peruse on the internet. Having a digital presence puts you into that world. Have only an offline presence severely limits your total reach.
Having only a website, and an incomplete one at that, means you are just 1 of the over 10,000,000 websites that were created that day. It’s a tiny blip on the radar. A complete online presence is more than just a website, but having a solid website is a fundamental step that must be done right, first, in order for the other components to reap their full benefits.
How do you convey trust? How do you make your company more “human” and “likable?” Leave your responses below, or like us on Facebook and start the discussion there!