Recently, I had a conversation with an entrepreneur about her website. She contacted me because she wanted to redo her website since her current one wasn’t successfully reaching new customers. This happens more than you may think. In fact, you probably have experienced bad websites yourself that you know how frustrating they can be for a potential customer. You certainly don’t want this to happen to yours!
But further conversation with this entrepreneur revealed that more than just her website was at work here.
You see, this entrepreneur had paid for two new websites in the past two years. Each previous website had failed to produce new customers for her business. She knew she needed a website. But she was increasingly frustrated, and rightfully so, that she couldn’t get her website to work for her. However, she was looking in the wrong place to fix the problem.
The greatest website myth
Probably, the greatest myth I’ve encountered in working with many business owners on their websites is the Field of Dreams myth: “If you build it, they will come.” So many people expect that launching a new website will automatically bring in new business. It just doesn’t work that way. Likewise, opening a bricks-and-mortar store and then sitting inside it, waiting for throngs of customers to enter, doesn’t work, either. So if you hold on to this myth, you’ll do yourself a favor to get rid of it.
What a website needs to succeed
For any website that relies on attracting new customers, new sales, new donations, or anything else new, it needs to be marketed. You have probably heard about search engine optimization, or SEO, as a way to market a website. While it is true, there’s more that’s involved. In a nutshell, if you expect your website to bring in new business, you need to take action, like the following:
- Include useful, entertaining, unique, or otherwise compelling content that encourages others to share or link to your site.
- Get involved in social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest), and share compelling content there. Interact with potential customers.
- Include your own custom media (photos and videos) on your website.
While your own plan needs to be customized for your particular business and website, it will probably include similar elements. Working with professional marketers, copywriters, photographers, and videographers will go a long way in making compelling content for your site.
The most important question to ask
The entrepreneur’s website didn’t suffer from these issues, however. She knew that she needed to do some work to attract business to her website. She could have been doing more focused work with a marketer (couldn’t we all?), but she was doing something. Actually, her larger website problem was in not asking the most important question there is to ask of any website. You should be asking the same question of your website, too.
Does my website meet my customers’ needs?
Sometimes, we get so caught up in the latest SEO technique, social media campaign, or website redesign that we we fail to remember that if we’re not meeting our customers’ needs, they won’t buy. The problem may be that there’s too small a market for your business, too much competition, targeting the wrong people in your marketing, ineffective pricing or packaging, inaccurate product or service descriptions, or any number of reasons. Usually, working with a professional marketer or trusted business advisers like SCORE will help you get to the bottom of these issues. No website, no matter how perfect, will fix these issues for you. And that was the problem with this entrepreneur; she needed to work more on her own business before she could plan a successful website.
Before you blame your website for not bringing in customers, remember to make sure you’re meeting customers’ needs first and foremost before you begin to market it.