Whether you’ve just completed your first website, or you’re trying to re-assess an existing site to see where it can be improved, it’s important that the questions you ask are both representative of your brand as well as results-driven. Here are the top eight questions -- with action steps -- for assessing your business’s website, all with an eye lent towards leveraging your brand and gaining more clients.
1. Who am I really trying to reach?
There are any number of exercises you can use to define your answer, but I ask my one-on-one consulting clients to whittle it down to its simplest elements -- “I/we help people who struggle with [blank] to stop [blank] and start [blank].”
Action step -- Write out, longhand, what your business helps people with, making it as detailed as possible. Then bring it into one simple, straightforward sentence. Make sure that sentence is visible on your website.
2. Is it “me?"
I’m of the belief that a person’s website should be as visually representative of who they are the messaging. It’s like putting on the clothes that make you feel most like yourself. If all black and a moto jacket are how you like to roll, you’ll feel completely out of place in a dress. The same goes for websites. Does it feel like you, visually? Does it “sound” like you, when you write or create ongoing content?
Action step -- Make a list of ways that your website doesn’t feel like you, and create an action plan to start shifting things.
3. Does my "about" page talk about me-me-me or about how I help?
Focus on the latter, and tell people about how what you do translates to helping them as your clients/customers. Yes, people are interested on some level about you and your company’s values, but only because they’re trying to get a sense of what it would be like to work with you. “Is this business ‘my’ kind of business? Do they sound like someone I’d want to receive help from?” That’s what someone is unconsciously or consciously asking themselves when they read an about page.
Action step -- Rewrite your business about page from the perspective of how your underlying values will help people.
4. Is my "services" page streamlined?
For product-based sites, the product -- and its price -- needs to be simple to view and purchase. For client-based businesses, I suggest avoiding tiered packages. They provide an incentive for undercutting your own pricing, and that lends to a sense that your work isn’t as legitimate as is the work of those who stand behind one solid rate for what they do.
Action step-- For product-based businesses, find 10 people who are new to your product and ask them how easy it is to find the information they need online. For service-based businesses, see if you can easily fill in this sentence -- “I charge [blank] per [hour/session], and we work together for an initial commitment of [blank] weeks or months.” Overly-complicated tiered pricing structures won’t fit into that sentence.
5. Am I speaking to client/customer needs?
Sometimes businesses get stuck using industry jargon or flowery language, and that means more work for the client to decide if you’re right for them.
Action step -- Review your blog, services pages and newsletter opt-in incentives. Ask yourself if you are clearly identifying, in the client or customer’s words, what they struggle with or need help with.
6. Am I articulating the solutions that I provide?
A lot of businesses get so focused on putting up “Buy now” buttons that they forget to clearly communicate what the customer is specifically looking for -- a solution. If I have a sink of dirty dishes, my solution is having clean dishes in less time and with less stress. Speak to the solutions the customer desires, instead of inundating them with “Buy now” language.
Action step -- Review your website, keeping an eye out for where you can speak to the customer or client’s desired solutions.
7. Are there multiple ways for customers to engage?
If someone’s only option for engaging with your work is to hire you or buy something, you’re limiting their long-term interactions with your business. Give them reasons to hang out with you for awhile on social media, join your newsletter or otherwise engage with your brand.
Action step -- Create multiple points where people can sign up for your newsletter or engage with you on social media.
8. What’s your ongoing approach for engaging people?
You need a reason for people to regularly come back to your website. Many small business websites have blogs that just showcase their latest features. If someone is in the tech industry, this can be helpful. If I’m using your newsletter service, for instance, I like knowing that you rolled out a new feature that will help me. But for service-based industries, a blog post about new appointment availability isn’t as engaging.
Action step -- Create an ongoing approach for reaching your people, and particularly note how this approach will help your clientele with what they struggle with and offer them solutions.
There’s so much that goes into branding and reaching customers. These eight questions hit the big notes for how you can create a website experience that encourages people to get to know you or your company a little bit better. In the long-term, building that customer engagement is the key to regularly reaching your right people and growing what you do.