Make Your Website Work for You
By Betty Rengifo Uribe, Ed.D.
Executive Vice President, California Bank & Trust
Business & Personal Banking Division
The phrase “Build it and they will come” used to apply to websites. Not anymore. Potential customers have more online options than ever. If a website does not immediately meet a visitor’s needs, that visitor is gone, likely never to return. To ensure your website attracts and engages visitors, you must build a site that not only complements your business but also enhances it and reflects your goals. To do that, you have to think like your customers. It starts by understanding them.
Defining Your Goals
Why does your business need a website? Is it simply to have a web presence? If so, you are selling your business short and under-utilizing a valuable marketing and sales tool. Your website not only establishes your presence and provides contact information, it also gives potential customers the information they need to make a purchase decision. Consider these important questions:
- What questions do your customers ask you?
- What information do your salespeople frequently provide?
- How do you respond to common questions?
The above information should be prominent on your website. In effect, your website can “pre-sell” your potential customers, making sales efforts easier and more streamlined.
Your website should provide enough information to overcome natural buyer hesitance, create rapport and a sense of trust, and make it easier for customers to take action. Your website is always “open” even if your place of business is not.
Once you’ve defined your goals and addressed the needs of your online audience, be sure your website reflects the information clearly and effectively. Here are some starting points:
Clean, Professional Design: Most consumers search online before buying. Your website creates their first impression. A well-designed site projects a positive image. Conversely, a poorly designed or outdated site turns customers away. If you are concerned about the expense, keep in mind that your website is another form of advertising. Devote a suitable portion of your advertising budget to your website.
Easy Navigation: Don’t assume your customers know where to look for important information on your website. Make it easy for them. Information about new products and how-to advice should be easy to find. Pretend you are a new user, or better yet, have a friend try out your site and make sure a new visitor can easily find what he or she is looking for.
Useful Content: Provide useful information about your company, your products and your services. Include helpful articles or tips. Make the visit to your website worthwhile and you will build trust and increase sales.
A Great “About Us” Page: Tell potential customers who you are. Give them a sense of your company’s personality, its goals and values and your approach to business. Use your “About Us” page to tell potential customers how they will benefit from doing business with you.
Contact Information: Don’t forget to tell customers how to reach you. Make sure contact information is included on every page. It needn’t be the first thing a visitor sees, but it should be easy to find.
No matter how thorough and comprehensive your website is, the key is never to ask a visitor to stop and think while using it. If you force a visitor to think about where to look, how to find information or how to use a particular feature of your site, you aren’t creating a positive experience. Frustrated visitors are inclined to leave. Be sure your navigation is easy and your content is clearly presented. Use simple descriptions and language. If you make your site easy to use, more customers will use your site – and do business with your company.