Websites of service companies seem to make some common website mistakes over and over again. Part of the function of your website is to establish a relationship with potential clients and get them into your marketing funnel. If you want to get more clients from your website, here are the first 5 mistakes to avoid:
Copyright 2006 Donna Gunter
I'm online for much of my business day, which means I get to visit many, many websites in the process of helping my clients learn how they get more clients online. I'm also asked to provide feedback about the effectiveness of websites, and as I specialize in working with owners of service businesses, I see several common website mistakes made over and over again by service companies.
If you want to get more clients from your website, here are the first 5 mistakes to avoid:
1. Business appearance as a nameless, faceless corporate entity. I just want to scream when I can't find any information on the person/people behind a company, and my preference is to be able to have a visual representation (photo) of the people with whom I'm about to do business. One of the key components to your success as the owner of a service business should be the quality of service you personally provide, whether you're a chiropractor, website designer, pest exterminator, accountant, or printer.
People don't do business with business cards or websites -- people do business with other people. How can someone get to know, like, respect and trust you in order to decide to do business with you when they can't peer behind the corporate image? I realize many smaller business firms employ this strategy to appear bigger than they actually are to their client base, but I prefer being able to pick up the phone or drop an email to someone I personally know within a company to help me solve my problem, rather than trying to penetrate a faceless corporate facade.
2. Lack of a clear call to action on the home page. Have you ever been to a website and been completely overwhelmed with all the directions you can go from the home page? I have, and I become so frustrated that I leave in short order. Or, perhaps you thought, "This business sounds like one I'd like to stay in touch with -- what do I do next?", and you can't find the answer to that question anywhere on the home page of the website. The most effective call to action you can have on your home page is to offer something for free (ebook, ecourse, newsletter, survey results, report, toolkit) that is so attractive to your target market that they will give you their name and email address to receive your offer.
Many times the call to action is to telephone or email the business for a free consultation. I think that call to action is effective to some degree, especially if someone is shopping for an immediate solution to their problem,. Overall, however, I think people want more time to make a decision about doing business with you in terms of determining your credibility and making a decision about whether or not they trust you before deciding to have a personal conversation with you.
Expecting someone to call you upon first meeting you (viewing your website) is not very realistic. However, if they've seen enough on your site to want a little more, there's a greater likelihood of them parting with a tiny bit of info (first name and email address) in order to get a better experience of you anonymously and without a great commitment. Once you have their contact information, they have become a prospective client and you can market to them as you would to any other prospect in your business.
3. Little website content that demonstrates your expertise. I often visit websites in which the company boasts how proficient they are at solving my problem, but when I look for proof of what they know (articles, resources, recorded content), I come up empty-handed, as the website is simply an online brochure describing the company's products and services. If you've been in business for awhile, you've got a good idea of the problems that your customers face.
Don't look upon providing information on your website as giving away your solutions for free -- think of it as developing a better-educated consumer for your services and products. Will you lose customers because they read your information and implemented the solution without hiring you? That's possible, but most prospective customers are unable to do it on their own and will need your expert assistance to help them solve their problem.
4. Inability to "test" your service at less expensive price points. Many service companies expect that their website visitors will part with a large sum of money to hire them just after meeting them. This rarely happens, unless your prospective customer is in an emergency situation. For example, if you're an exterminator and someone has just discovered his home is infested with termites, he may part with $1200 upon meeting you if he's confident that you can quickly and reliably solve his termite problem.
However, this scenario isn't realistic for those of use providing optional purchase-type services, like coaching, training, consulting, website design, printing, etc. Potential clients like to "buy in" at lower price points to "test" your expertise and reliability before handing over $5000 for a year-long consulting contract, for example. Andrea Lee, in her book, Multiple Streams of Coaching Income, http://www.msoci.com, suggests several price points in the creation of your marketing funnel:
a. free/complimentary/gift (like the free report you give away on the home page of your website)
b. $4.95 -$50
c. $50 - $200
d. $200 - $500
e. $500 and greater
Creating services and/or products at these various levels will help prospective clients "sample" your expertise at a price point that's comfortable for them, and you, as the business owner, can "move" them through your marketing funnel until they buy your top-level service. By creating different price levels, you've increased the number of prospective customers that have benefit of your expertise.
5. Missing or hidden contact information. You've visited a website several times and think that the site offers the ideal solution to your problem. However, you've got one question to ask before making your purchasing decision. You seek the location of the company, the phone number, or an email address, and all you find is a contact form to send your question. Website owners are often reluctant to have their contact info readily available on the website, as they fear having their email address harvested by spammers, or having their phone number added to a telemarketer list.
There are ways to lessen the likelihood of either issue, like by using an email address encoder like NATATA Anti-Spam Encoder, http://natata.hn3.net/, or the National Do Not Call Registry, https://www.donotcall.gov/default.aspx (applies to residential numbers only), or a live online chat help system, like LivePerson.com. Make it as easy as possible for potential clients to contact you.
Part 2 of the article focuses on mistakes small business owners make in not demonstrating their uniqueness and how they understand the problems faced by their clients.
Online Business Resource Queen (TM) and Coach Donna Gunter helps self-employed service professionals learn how to get more clients online. To sign up for more FREE tips like these and claim your FREE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, visit her site at http://www.GetMoreClientsOnline.com .