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No Mystery About It. Your Website is Your Story

Sept. 15, 2021
Do not leave customers and potential customers wondering what you’re up to. Make certain your site visitors know who you are and what solutions you can offer.

Your website is not a brochure for your company. Shocking, but true. Your website is the digital hub that prospective and current customers use to access information about your business and its services/products, your staff, your quality certifications, your business or manufacturing process, your satisfied customers, and so much more.

A brochure, you’ll remember, is almost never provided cold: It’s mailed with a letter or handed out at a tradeshow with a more personal conversation. It may be presented, as part of a sales meeting, or e-mailed, after a call. Brochures almost always have context and people know from whom they are receiving it (name of the company) and why (what solution it is offering.)

Now think about how people arrive at your website: they hear about your company and look it up as a local business or a potential solution to an issue,  or they are searching for the type of product/service which your company offers. Are you offering a website experience that accommodates these different kinds of visitors?

If your website is designed to look pretty, congratulations. We eat with our eyes first. But if the site is confusing to navigate, you will see that is reflected in the bounce rate of your on-site analytics. (Google Analytics is free. It is a great starting point for understanding what users do on a site.)

What could make a pretty website confusing to navigate?
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Does the website not clearly state or show, on the landing page, what service or product your business provides?
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Does the website rely on images rather than words? Visuals matter, but people are looking for context (and so is Google.) Words provide that.  Size matters, too. Scrolling through large graphics to get to information is not a good user experience.
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Do people have to search other parts of the website to understand what the company does?
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If they have to hit the About page to know what the company offers, that’s a failure.
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Is the site filled with industry jargon or the CEO’s personal motto rather than the kind of straightforward information the audience would need?

There is a phrase writers use, “Kill off your darlings.” Basically, don’t get so precious about your writing that you are afraid of a little editing to make a story better. Websites are a story. Do not lose track of what your audience will need to know when they arrive at your site.

In real language, site visitors need to know if you offer a product or a service they are seeking. They need to know what you do and for whom you do it.

There are a lot of things for which to hire support when building or maintaining a website. Content management system (CMS.) Search engine optimization (SEO), aka making the site findable for Google. Imagery. Case studies or customer testimonials. User experience. Site flow and navigation. All of these are skills you can hire, often within a single agency.

But one thing an agency cannot replace is your knowledge of who your customers are and the questions your prospects have during the sales decision process. What is important for customers to know? (In manufacturing, in addition to your quality certifications, your green credentials are part of what potential customers want to know.) Your team - sales, marketing, customer service, engineering - is a resource to be harnessed to support any outside agency, and they should be involved in the process.

The good news is that digital is not eternal and unchanging. You can begin reviewing your website - today - for improvements to start implementing. You can roll out improved verbiage, updated menus, new visuals, as time and budget allow. A website is not “one and done,” as a brochure would be. A website should be an evolving message, a process that you can test and evaluate as you go, as part of your communication plan.

For the people visiting your website, what problem your company solves and for whom should not be a mystery. In business communication and sales, mysteries waste time. Best to save mysteries for your great American novel and use clarity on the company story that is your website.

Alexandria Trusov is the Global Marketing Manager at Alpha Resources and a B2B marketing consultant to manufacturers and other B2B companies. Contact her at [email protected] or visit www.truinsightsconsulting.com.