The days of a stagnant, brochure-style website are gone. A rockin’ website is not just for fun anymore. And, at the current price for developing a site, you can’t just have a website that’s fluffy and pretty — you need a website you can put to work. Here’s how to start.
Do the thing you always hear from me: assess your target market. Who are they? What does your target really need to make the decision to work with you? What would make it easier for them to do business with you?
Then, do something I almost never tell you to do: think about yourself. What menial tasks are taking up your time? How could you change your business by changing your website? How can your website make your business easier for you to run and easier for your clients or prospects to engage with you?
Do those things over and over again. Even if it seems hard or expensive or undoable, it may be the thing that makes your business great.
After going through those three illuminating steps, “putting your site to work” can still seem a little vague. Use these concrete examples to kick-start your brainstorming.
- Customize your lead intake forms. This means more than an email form. So ask yourself, “What do I need to know to have an effective conversation with a lead? Their address? Square footage? Budget?” Ask, and don’t be bashful. If you can’t work on a project under a certain budget, give viewers a range of prices, starting at your lowest amount.
- Sync your blog and email newsletter. If you’re blogging, stop manually creating your email newsletters. That’s right — a blog post can trigger an email software, like MailChimp, to format that post and automatically deliver it in an email for you. It’ll take a while to figure out, and you may have to give up some flexibility, but this was a huge time-saver for my staff when I finally set it up.
- Post FAQs. As a know-it-all and an oldest child, I love answering questions — it’s my forte. But fielding redundant phone calls while trying to work can eat a whole day before you know it. Instead, use your website to offer up answers to frequently asked questions. Direct people to those answers on your invoices, on-hold message, and marketing materials. You may miss out on the gratification of answering a question personally, but your prospects and clients can get the answers they need when they need them.
- Make an online estimator. One question I get asked all the time is “How much does a website cost?” So you know what I did? I made an online website estimator. If you punch your website development criteria into the form, the estimator tells you a price. It’s magic, and you can do the same thing. I know you want to have a conversation with people so you can close the deal. But sometimes people don’t care about what you have to say until they know how much it’s going to cost. That’s the answer they want, so give it to them.
- Tell them who to contact. It’s not hard to put extensions on your employees’ phone numbers and list those commonly called employees and their extensions on your website. Also list specific contact information throughout your site. Then visitors can find who they want and call them directly without jumping through hoops.
- Make a members-only section. You can use a password-protected area of your site to house compliance information or keep everyone informed about the company. Share meeting minutes, agendas, user guides, a video of your secret handshake — whatever it is that your constituents need to access. Keep in mind that implementing a protected section is a culture shift, so you need buy-in from employees. Consider starting small and building over time.
- Online appointment setting. Give visitors all the tools they need to make an appointment with you on your website — again, that means more than an email form. Start by having them select a service, and then have them search for dates and times. Some people are good with just a phone number, but for many younger professionals, that’s a barrier to entry.
I’m sure you’re getting the picture. You can use your website to save you time, and that makes you money. Make your website a team player, not just reading material.
Monica Pitts is the chief creative director of MayeCreate Design.