There’s no denying the fact that having a company website to promote your brand name as well as the products and services you offer is absolutely critical in this digital age. Oftentimes, your company website is the only connection you have to the outside world of consumers and business decision makers. So why would you leave the design and copywriting to a bunch of amateurs?
We’ve all seen them. Websites that make you just want to drop your jaw in utter disgust and those that make you wonder how the owner is still in business.
When designing your website, in addition to know what makes a website “stick,” it’s often helpful to know what triggers people to question your credibility and opt to leave your website upon reading the first couple of sentences.
1. Poor navigation
If you invited new guests to your humble abode, would you let them fend for themselves? Would you let them roam around in search of the bathroom or would you make an effort to point them in the right direction? Same goes for your website. Try to make it easy for new visitors to find what they need without having to sift through a bunch of information that doesn’t interest them. If I find that every page looks different, the navigation menu and links are always in illogical places, or it is difficult to go back to a page I deemed to be relevant, it becomes hard to justify wasting my time.
2. Use of colors that just make you want to hurl
Companies tend to underestimate the importance of choosing a color palette for their website that effectively captures the feel of their message. Every color in the color wheel triggers a different reaction or emotion in the viewer. For example, blue tend to be pleasing to the eye and is typically utilized to promote products and services related to cleanliness. On the other hand, the use of red typically incites strong reactions in people and stimulates them to make quick decisions. Imagine using soft blue colors to send a message warning the people of the risk and danger associated with radioactive poisoning. Good luck in encouraging people to take action.
3. A design that looks too “busy”
Have you ever stumbled upon a website that you find overwhelming? Perhaps one that has 10 million buttons that you can click on, or one that is drowning in advertisements? Given that it takes 8 seconds to make a first impression and a lifetime to change one’s first opinion of you, why risk it by creating a website that is nothing but distracting to the viewer?
4. Irrelevant material
Do you remember when you searched for something on Google, and found a website that was completely unrelated to your topic of interest? There’s nothing more aggravating when you are on a time crunch than trying to search for something specific on Google and clicking on a bunch of irrelevant websites. If you are attempting to boost your ranking with major search engines by embedding keywords and phrases to your website that are unrelated to your content, not only are you being unethical, but your high rankings will be short lived and your relationship with these search engines will be compromised. Let your consumers find you using keywords that are actually relevant to the products and services that you offer to ensure you are driving valuable traffic to your website.
5. Website full of dead links
Judging by the fast-pace nature of the Internet, consumers expect that when they click on a link for information, that the information will be available upon request. When it’s not, you have essentially let them down and worse, you just lost a potential customer. I can assure you that a thorough review of your website to eliminate any broken or dead links is well worth your time.
6. Archaic or inaccurate content
Do you recall a time when you went clothes shopping to the same store that you went to a few months prior, and found that nothing changed? The same is true for websites. Outdated information on your website is a recipe for disaster. If you can’t keep up to date with fresh, accurate content, unique visitors to your website will think that you are not keeping up with the trends or are just too plain lazy to do something about it.
7. Lack of a compelling message
If you want to give your customers a reason to visit your website, stay there, and return on multiple occasions, you must pay particular attention to the content of your message. In the process of building a website, remember that content is king. A website that does not provide users with something of value and something different than what everyone else and their mother has to say will not get the exposure it deserves.
8. Sentences full of grammatical mistakes and broken English
People are always wary and skeptical of websites that look like they were written by my 4 year old cousin. Maybe is has to do with the popularity of text messaging and social networking today that is damaging our ability to write in proper English. However, there is a time and a place for bad grammar. A website that is full of spelling errors, choppy sentences, misplaced apostrophes, disjointed paragraphs, or random capital letters is a high indicator of unprofessionalism and a sure way to detract from your overall message. Charles Duncombe, an Internet entrepreneur, reported a cost of millions in online sales that could be attributed to bad spelling. The bottom line? Just don’t hire a bargain basement writer to be in charge of your content.
9. Limited product and service offerings
If you want to extend the amount of time viewers are spending on your website, make sure to post a variety of products and services you offer on your website. Loyal customers like to feel confident that they are dealing with a reputable company who is an expert in their particular field. There is stiff competition out there, and those who are able to offer a myriad of different products and services are more likely to capture and retain interest from their target audience.
10. No call to action
In serious relationships, both parties are bound to confront the inevitable question, “where do we go from here?” Individuals are very logical beings and are always in search for the “next step,” whether it be in a relationship or when we are navigating the web. In order for a website to be successful, there must always be a way for the customer to act by either purchasing a product or service, submitting an information request form, signing up for a newsletter, redeeming a coupon, etc. The last thing that they want to do is get trapped on page with nothing to do and nowhere to go.
As a word of advice for companies in search of qualified sales leads, it is important not to skimp out on your budget to build and design your website. If your business is something of value to you, why leave it in the hands of incompetent people? Would you let your wife attempt to fix your car? Or would you let your husband re-design your master bedroom? I didn’t think so.
The thing about Integrated Marketing is that you don’t have to choose between one marketing platform versus another. In fact, you shouldn’t have to choose. Success comes into play when you use one advertising medium to optimize another in an effort to create a marketing campaign that works together to generate a positive brand image.
I have just recently become involved in LinkedIn discussion forums in my field of work and cannot help but notice the number of questions related to choosing between two or three communicative channels to distribute a promotional message. Many questions ask which advertising platform performs better on the whole, which is best suited to a particular industry, which brings in the most sales leads, or which has the highest return on investment (ROI).
These are very vague questions that elicit very vague responses. The fact of the matter is, each advertising platform has merit in its own right. One marketing channel should not be discredited for not performing up to par with the rest. What makes this world interesting is that you cannot find two people alike, meaning that no two people respond to different media channels in the exact same manner. The key to attaining optimal results is to promote your brand, product, or service across a host of different channels that work together cohesively to get your message across.
Let’s do a comparison of two very viable advertising platforms: Email Marketing and Google Ad Words. The question should not be, “Which performs better?” but rather, “What is the difference between them?” Email marketing is effective in terms of building your brand name, generating exposure of your products and services, and driving traffic to your website. You are peaking the interests of those who may not have heard of you, but are willing to hear about your offers. Your email advertisements have potential to reach hundreds of thousands of new customers on a national or international scale, depending on your budget and business objectives. With Google Ad Words, you are reaching an audience that is already interested in you. Consumers are actively looking in search engines for products or services that are needed at that moment, and are more compelled to make immediate purchasing decisions.
Rather than choosing between these two mediums, it would be wise to use both of them to your advantage. First make your customers aware of you through email marketing as one of the first consumer touch points to your brand. It may take multiple email deployments to the same individuals to achieve the brand recognition that is highly sought after for start-up companies. Once you begin to build brand equity through this communicative platform, it’s time to bring a different marketing tool to the mix. Utilize Google Ad Words to optimize your search results so that your website is consistently ranked high in the most popular search engines based on certain keywords. When consumers that received your promotional emails are ready to buy your products or services, your search engine listing will likely be the first link clicked.
Don’t underestimate the power of advertising. While you may not experience a drastic bump in sales the minute you begin advertising, know that your message is being seen, read, and heard. The “Coca Cola” brand wasn’t born overnight, but it took decades to achieve the brand image and recognition so apparent today.