Imagine that you are facing one of the most important days of your professional life. You’re going to be talking to hundreds—maybe even thousands—of people about your business.
They’ve all shown interest in your company, but they’re not a captive audience. You have a matter of seconds to get their attention and make them want to learn more about you. And if they lose interest, information from your biggest competitors is close by.
How would you prepare for this day? You would hire people you really trusted to help you build a brilliant and beautiful presentation. You would probably spend a few hours reading and re-reading your final version to make sure it was perfect. Your spouse and closest friends might stand in as your practice audience so you could ensure your delivery was impeccable.
It would be a big deal. Small businesses don’t often get the chance to reach such a large audience of prospects, right?
What if I told you this insanely important presentation is not just going to happen, it is happening— right now. It’s happening as I type this, and it’s happening as you’re reading it.
It’s your website.
All day, every day, your website presents your company to the world.
All that HTML is responsible for the most wide-reaching first impression your company will ever make. It’s the hardest-working sales agent you have. And as the saying goes, you don’t have a second chance to make a first impression. If the first one isn’t great, there probably won’t be a second.
The harsh truth about crappy websites
If your website isn’t easy to navigate, people won’t try to figure it out, they’ll just give up.
If your website doesn’t give them the information they want, they’ll find that information elsewhere. Seriously. They won’t take the time to call you to find out.
If your home page leaves people with no idea what the heck you actually do, they’ll hit the back button faster than you’d believe.
If your site’s design looks like it’s from ’99, isn’t mobile friendly (at a minimum) or (God forbid) uses Flash, then what you’re saying is you’re an old, outdated business.
Great website copy directs your audience, putting top-level content front and center, allowing them to easily dig deeper for more detailed information. It shows the reader why they need not just the solution you provide, but YOU, specifically. Great design is a big part of what makes a website easy to browse, it can help make copy easier to follow and it can help you emphasize key pieces of content. It’s a symbiotic relationship; you need both.
And this is just about what’s visible to your audience. People need to find your website in the first place. If you’re unimpressed with your Google ranking, maybe it’s because the term “meta data” sounds above your head. It’s not; I promise. Page titles, descriptions and keywords are powerful tools that you need to use.
Show of hands—who wants to give off the impression that you’re out of touch, you don’t care and you’re not a serious business?
I don’t need to see you to know your hands are down.
Bottom line: If your website is lacking in even just one of these things, you’re headed into the biggest presentation in your company’s history unprepared.
So what does this have to do with content marketing?
Your website is a hub for all of your content. It should be where people can find all of the content you’re producing (from your blog to your social channels to your latest eBook). And, most likely, your website is the destination in many of the call-to-actions you use throughout that content.
This means there is a constant flow where your content promotes your website and your website promotes your content. It’s a beautiful—and critical—relationship.
The ultimate goal of your content is that it is so outstanding that your audience has no hesitation about working with you. But let’s be honest—they’ll probably check out your website first.
What to do if you just realized your website needs help
A complete website overhaul is ideal, but not always within in the budget—and if you have website problems, you want to get them fixed immediately. So what can you do in the meantime, as you’re saving up for a total website refresh?
- If your website design is the web equivalent of stone-washed jeans: Redesign just the home page. While not all your visitors will enter your site through this page, it is the main starting point. A refresh of the copy and visuals can help set a better tone for the entire site.
- If your copy is confusing, boring and riddled with jargon: Look at your analytics to determine the pages with the highest traffic. These are the pages you should revise immediately. Aim to make things as simple as possible. Remove the buzzwords, say what you really mean and keep the audience in mind.
- If there’s a serious lack of information on your site: Sit down with the people in charge of your programs and services to find out the questions they are most frequently asked. Gather all the details on your current offerings and add them to your website. Sure, having event calendars and registration modules are impressive, but if you can’t afford those right now, that’s ok. You can still provide a wealth of information that hooks your audience.
- If even Columbus couldn’t find his way through your website: Check into the possibility of making changes to the navigation whether it’s structure (can you add drop-down menus to make things easier to reach?) or clarity (renaming your page names can do wonders). Also, review your copy for opportunities to cross-link to other content on your site.
- If your website only works properly on a desktop computer: Run, don’t walk, to your nearest programmer and beg them to help you sort this out. Do you know what percentage of website traffic comes from mobile devices? SIXTY PERCENT. If your website looks bad and is illegible to about 60% of the people who see it, that’s a problem you need to fix now.
A website that doesn’t do a great job of positioning and presenting your company can cost you customers, respect and money—and hand them over to your biggest competitor. Whether you’re in the position to make short- or long-term changes, it’s worth ensuring that you have a site that stands up in front of the crowd and makes an impact.
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