12 Feb The 10-Point Website Success Checklist
The purpose of this mini-series is to help us, as website owners, to shift our focus momentarily away from the “technical detail” and towards “customer detail”. Yes, its’ true that the technical is necessary, the technical makes it all happen, BUT –
Too easily these days we spend our time on the “what we do” instead of “what our customers do”.
It’s time to stop looking at us, and start looking at them.
The 10-point Website Success Checklist is an audio series recorded originally for an eBook; but now revisited for web audio. It will take you by the hand, new or experienced business owner, and guide you through the sale process as your customer sees it. While it may have only take me a day to record and edit all ten audios (about 90 mins worth), it took me a month to fully research and prepare this series.
I suggest that you read the text and then listen to the audio for best results. Then, for even better results, listen again to the audios one after the other.
- What do they see when they first see?
- How to meet Expectations in Layout and Design.
- Determining the Purpose that Drives the Point.
- Ten seconds to success or failure.
- Road Maps and Navigation.
- The first sale before the sale.
- Talking to your friends… effectively.
- Fresh Apples and Eggs.
- Do your Teenagers Still Talk to You? Do your Customers?
- One PLUS One equals one thousand
Part 1 – What do they see when they first see?
If your webmaster has done the job right, your customers are going to be able to find you in the search engines. Of course, this is not the only way that your potential customers will be finding you, but it is *one* of the fundamental traffic strategies.
With that in mind, it’s vitally important that the description that your visitors see when they come across your site linked in their search engine results is both revealing and compelling; revealing, so that it gives enough information to capture their attention, and compelling so that it draws them in to then click your link and seek more.
This is something that you should personally check yourself, and do so in numerous search engines, because different engines show different results.
Part 2 – How to meet Expectations in Layout and Design.
The moment your customer arrives at your website site they are hit with a choice… stay, or go…. and they’re going to make that choice in less than 10 seconds!
What is it that you want them to see? What is the first thing that they *do* see?
Most commonly, the new website visitor is going to notice the way in which the site is laid out. They’re going to notice whether or not the initial impression meets their initial expectations from before they arrived (ie. expectations they created by reading the search engine description). If their expectations are met, they’ll stay. If not….
Therefore your site must pass this 10 second test: Do the graphics convey a true “a-picture-says-a-thousand-words” about your business? Does your site project professional business or back-yard operator? Does it look like a place to go or a place to leave? Do they feel “safe”… would they spend / invest their money with you?
Less than ten seconds. Not much time to capture the attention of a life long customer.
Part 3 – Determining the Purpose that Drives the Point.
The next key aspect of a successful website is its purpose. Let’s say that your new visitor has decided to stay around. It looks like your site just may offer them what they need. But then, so do dozens of other websites –
Which of these websites most clearly illustrates what it can do for the customer and where it will take them? Is it yours? Can your customer quickly see that your business offers not only what they “need”, but also what they “want’?
If it does then you’ve got a chance. Customers these days come to your website with a purpose in mind. They don’t have time to waist. They are not there to “browse”. They are there to fill needs, desires, and wants. If they don’t feel they can find them at your website, they somewhere else.
Your purpose must be aligned with theirs.
Part 4 – Ten seconds to success or failure.
So, how do we let our visitors know that your purpose is aligned with theirs? Easy. We do it with sales copy.
Assuming that our website has passed the 10-second test and initial impressions appear to be aligned, the customer / website owner relationship now needs to be cemented in place – do we have what they are looking for, and how do we show it to them?
It’s your headline that will magnify the answer! A great headline will grab their attention and draw them in; a poor one will once again, turn them away.
Of course, I’m not suggesting here that we try and be all things to all people. We have a purpose and we have a plan – a plan that guides our business. Therefore, sales copy when written well expounds upon these things and captures the attention of our perfect customer.
It is this person whom we want to discover. More so, the sales copy enlightens the facts that for them, that just as they are our perfect customer, we are their perfect business.
Part 5 – Road Maps and Navigation.
let me ask; of what use is a road map if you don’t know where you’re going? How good are the directions if there is no destination?
At all times we have been seeking to capture our visitors’ attention, to qualify them and to help them qualify us. Now we must guide them.
It’s no longer good enough in today’s marketplace to allow the consumer to “contemplate their ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response”. Today’s customers are far to well informed to be left to decide their own decisions and directions. It is because they know so much about what they want that they have too much to decide upon.
Therefore we must *make* them choose. Go left, or go right. Click here or go away.
The navigation links on your website must guide your customer to where “you” want them to go. Ask them to ask themselves, ‘yes’ or ‘no’. If you’ve done your job just right, they’ll already know that this is the business they want to invest with.
Part 6 – The first sale before the sale.
Then there comes this thing called “the sale”. It’s that all important 100% nothing-matters-more thing that every business person lives for.
Or is it?
Well, yes. But there are many different types of “sales” and the one that you choose is determined by your purpose as discussed in section 3.
For some websites the “sale” is made when the customer subscribes to a free newsletters / special report / or some other similar publication in exchange for the customers name and email address. It’s a standard practice these days and most certainly should be an essential element of every website ever built.
Sidebar: It should also be an essential element of every business that operates anywhere on the face of the planet.
So if your purpose is clear and you’ve made your intentions know through your sales copy, and the road map is simple enough – then your website visitor will either ‘buy’ your free report with his or her contact details, or they will purchase your actual product because it meets their needs.
Are you beginning to see that there is more than just one thing that needs to occur in order to make this happen? In some small way, it’s almost like the planets need to align!
Part 7 – Talking to your friends… effectively.
Follow up. Yes, follow up.
Just last week I was talking to a local business owner who invested on average about $60,000 a month on television advertising. When asked how well it was doing for him he replied, “Quite well. But I wish more of them would come back.”
I asked him about his database and his customer follow up system. Yes, he had one, and even sent his customers a card at Christmas.
But that was it.
Over the next 30 minutes I was able to explain to him that for a relatively small investment of perhaps a few hundred dollars a month (which we would take out of his TV ad budget), he would be able to keep in touch with all of these customers each and every month and begin to build trust and develop a relationship with them. This was with land mail.
Once he got the concept I explained how it can also be done for next to nothing using the fully automated power of e-mail. When I told him that we could also set it up so that not just his customers but his “prospective” customers could be followed up in the same way, his eyes nearly popped out of his head.
You see, the problem was that the last time he inquired about such things the prices were still quite high. That was about the same time he last had his website updated – almost 8 years ago.
Part 8 – Fresh Apples and Eggs.
And so in following up with your customers and “prospective” customers (warm leads who have given you permission for you to keep in touch with them), you start to deliver weekly, fortnightly or perhaps in rare case monthly “infomercials” to them.
You don’t so much “sell” to them, but rather ask them what it is that they are interested in and then have someone write it up for you (perhaps another special report or monthly .PDF newsletter) – which is then delivered to them by e-mail for almost zero cost.
This way, the circle begins to close and your customers become just that – YOUR customers (free or paid).
The key here is to continually update them with fresh new ideas that will keep your business in the forefront of their minds. The delivery life cycle of this will be determined not by the marketing minds that work for you, but by the marketing minds that will be reading the information – the customer.
Part 9 – Do your Teenagers Still Talk to You? Do your Customers?.
As we draw near to the end of this series, there are just two more aspects that need to be looked at carefully.
While it may be great that you’ve so far been able to do and achieve everything on this list, even to the point of making sales regularly and keeping in touch with your customers, there is still one important thing that is missing.
We want to go beyond the client / provider relationships and develop the consumer / friend relationship. We want your customer to view you and your business as an extended friend; someone they will talk to, interact with and spend some time with.
What a wonderful idea! But you sure don’t want them hanging around your office do you? No. You want them “hanging around” your website.
Enter The Blog.
In simple terms a Blog is identified as a “web log”, a place where people can interact and “log” (or share) their thoughts, ideas, concerns, experiences.
And if you can make that industry specific to your marketplace, and host it on your website (a very inexpensive thing to do), then kick things off by publishing your regular fresh desired content, eventually, with time and education, your customers will start reading it and posting their own feedback… in essence, participating in the discussion (don’t worry, you get full veto rights if you don’t like what someone has said).
This is, I believe the key that unlocks the golden goose. Imagine if every time you published your newsletter (be it online of offline) and you asked people to share their viewpoint about what you had to say; do you think that people would start to stand up and take notice of you and your business?
Do you think people prefer to deal with the authority in the industry or the ‘new guy’ who really doesn’t seem to know much?
With a careful blogging strategy you can become the authority figure in your industry in the eyes of those people to whom it matters most – the customer. Mind you, it is always nice to receive such recognition from your peers, built they are not the ones to pay the way and help put your kids through school are they?
Everything we do here is customer-centric… never us (ego)-centric.
Part 10 – One PLUS One equals one thousand.
Finally, we come to the end. By this time your customers love you.
You’ve asked them what it is that they want from a business / product like yours – and you’ve delivered it to them.
You’ve given them the opportunity to voice their opinions and share their viewpoints, and you’ve even helped them feel a little special, powerful (almost famous?), by allowing them to publish such comments for all to see on the World Wide Web through you Blog.
They have come to know you better, even like you. Your business is firmly entrenched in their heads. So they do what all good friends do – they tell someone about you.
Enter Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Digg, Mixx and a dozen other social networking sites; of which you have an account also.
And the goose lays the golden egg… web 2.0 referral marketing. It’s no longer called word of mouth, but instead word of “mouse”. Where as in the past one friend could have passed the word to perhaps a dozen or so people, now they can pass it on to 1,000 people, even 2,000 – perhaps millions if the need is there.
And the circle comes complete. Some of these people become go looking for your website. It’s easy to find in the search engines now and the description convinces them that they want to take a closer look.
When they arrive they find it so easy navigate your website that they go to exactly what it is that they’re looking for. Your purpose is so clear that it seems to align almost magically with theirs.
In just a short time, they can read and see what it is that you offer. Willingly they give you permission to follow them up in with your email newsletter and they love the brand new content that you publish each fortnight.
Being game, they also follow your request to post a comment on your Blog, after all, they are one of your paying customers now and they feel like they have a right to voice their viewpoint.
Magically after just a couple of comment posts, someone else bookmarks their link and it goes viral through the Facebook network. People come back to your website to take a look.
And the goose lays another golden egg.
As for you, if you ever did do any television advertising, when the next quarter ad bill comes around, you take a moment longer to think about it. You decide to do it a little differently this time… and for every phone call you get, every person who walks in that door you offer them a free copy of your newsletter and send it out immediately.
On the front page it says, “We’re already preparing our next edition. What is it that you really want to know about…. ?”