This week I’m launching my third major website in five years. This site represents the further specialization of my business and officially introduces my new brand to the world. This site has taken a lot of work. I’ve been writing text, researching photos and overseeing the site building for four months. I’d like to take you behind the scenes to show you my thinking in designing the site. Here’s why: I find that when many entrepreneurs create their websites, they are overly concerned with colors and logos and basic company information. They end up creating a site that’s nothing more than an electronic brochure and that’s a huge mistake. To have a website that truly works for your business, it has to do a lot more.
The simple truth of the matter is that when most people find you on the web, they are searching for information – they’re not necessarily ready to buy in that moment. So here’s what happens: the person comes to your site, looks at the information, leaves your site and is gone forever. There’s a chance that they’ll remember you and come back when they’re ready to buy something, but that’s highly unlikely. This potential customer is very busy and they’re receiving competing information all the time. Chances are they’ve forgotten about you the moment they leave your site. Here’s what you can do to prevent that—and to ensure your site is worth the time, money and effort you put into creating it.
Collecting Names and Information
You want your site’s main function to be the collection of names and contact information of people who visit your site. As I said before, a person can visit your site, leave and forget about you. But if you can secure some solid contact info, you can market to the person again and again until they are ready to buy.
Of course, this sounds easier than it really is.We’re all bombarded with messages in our email and snail mail everyday. Why would a person give you their email address so they can get more? You have to give them an enticement. It used to be you could have a box that said, “Sign Up for Our Newsletter” and that would be enough. These days you have to make your offer as irresistible as you can. Usually that means giving away some great information that will help the person with the reason they came to your site in the first place. Giving away special reports (a simple downloadable pdf file) is a popular tactic. On my Book Sistah site, I give away a special report called “The 5 Biggest Mistakes Most Writers Make When Trying to Get Published”.
With my new site I’m going a little further. I’m offering a free audio CD called “How to Succeed in Business By Becoming a Bestselling Author.” I’m doing this because if I send something, the prospect has to give me a regular mailing address. It’s getting harder and harder to get through to people via email and I want to be able to contact my prospects in different ways with different media. With regular mail addresses I’ll be able to send my first direct mail campaign. I’ll also start delivering a print newsletter in addition to my email one.
Strategizing Your Site
What happens when a person visits your site? What happens after they give you their name and contact information? This might seem like random stuff, but you actually have more control than you think over how a person moves through your site. This takes some thinking and you may want to map this out in a flow chart on paper as you’re designing the pages of your site. I’ll show you what I mean.
Let’s say a person goes to your site and they want your report or other free offer. They give you their contact information and ideally they go to a thank you web page that tells them how to download the freebie they signed up for. Now, think about this: the person is at your site, they’ve already taken one step and they’re obviously interested in what you have to offer. Why not take advantage of this moment when their interest is high and you already have them right there? Offer to sell them something! You could offer a low-priced item or perhaps a discount coupon for their first purchase. On my new site I offer for sale the written manual of “How to Succeed in Business By Becoming a Bestselling Author.”
Next, take your strategy even further. How will you follow up with your new prospect? Remember, people only buy from people they Know, Like and Trust. Now that you can contact this person, you can spend some time developing your rapport with them. There are a couple of ways you can do this. You could send a regular email newsletter that provides solid content as well as pitching your prospect on your latest products and services. If you manage your contacts in a system such as Aweber.com or 1ShoppingCart.com, you can also set up an autoresponder series. This is a set of messages designed to go out over specifically timed intervals. These emails could be packaged as an e-course or a series of pre-written newsletters. In my new system I’ll be doing a weekly newsletter as well as sending out a 3-step postcard campaign.
How to Contact You: Make the Process Clear
In all of your follow up materials you can educate your prospect in the best way to do business with you. Are they going to come into a store, order via email or, if you provide a service, schedule an appointment so they can hire you? Never take it for granted that the next step will be obvious to them. You really have to tell your audience (early and often!) exactly what they have to do, from telling them to hit the “send” button on your site to how they must order before a certain deadline.
Don’t forget to test everything! Make sure the right pages come up with each link and the right emails go out in the right orders. We’re still working out last minute bugs on my site, but I haven’t pulled out all my hair just yet!
What’s going on with your website? Are you starting to rethink your design and strategy? That’s okay! That’s a great place to start. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll be glad to answer them here. Until then, I’ll see you in the search engines!
Sophfronia Scott is executive editor of The Done For You Writing & Publishing Company. After 15 years at Time Inc., she left the corporate world to start her own business helping speakers, entrepreneurs and small business owners to write and publish books to promote their work. You can learn more about her programs at www.DoneForYouWriting.com.