This post needs a preface.  A while back we had a big accounting firm client.  They loved us and we loved them.  They let us do our best work and saw great return.  I asked “What difference has the new site made to sales enquiry levels?”  ~ I was blown away by the answer ~ “Inbound sales leads are up 170%.”  This was only three months after launching the site.  Nice.

“Inbound sales leads are up 170%.”

Well  ~ the only sure thing in life is change.  We grew apart ( they hired an internal team – I know! ) and we moved on.  I was keen to leverage this knowledge. I knew how to build and manage a site for an accountancy firm which would not only be pretty but it would also make them money. This was going to happen.

I knew the guy I wanted to take this to.  The other big accounting firm.  He was known to be dry ( no ~ not soulless ) and I was confident he’d be keen to win some of that business.  I met him at an event and got right to the point.  His response.

“My website does nothing for my business. Why would I spend money on it?”

I had nowhere to go with this.  There wasn’t a sensible response in my armoury which wouldn’t make him look stupid and that’s never a good approach when you’re trying to shmooze.

I’ve thought about this a lot.  In many respects I can now understand his perspective.  He knew lots of web developers and no doubt they would all tell him he’d get a flood of enquiries if he’d just work with *them*.  He can’t discriminate between us.  He’s also not the kind of guy who can really tell the difference between what looks good and what almost looks good.  He just has other talents.

If I polled business owners and asked them “What does your website contribute to your business?” I’m confident that answer will be an unenthusiastic “Meh – not much”.  Did anyone ask them what they wanted it to achieve? I’ll wager they didn’t.

Set vision, goals and think big.

Be really clear about what your website is for.  What are the goals for your business and how is the website going to support and contribute to these goals.  Primary website goals are normally sales enquiry led.  Don’t do this! We know that 95% of audience are not in buying mode so why focus on sales enquiry?  It’s really, really wasteful. Some useful secondary goals a site could have are to support :

  • Mailing list generation
  • Link building
  • Authority building
  • Social connection
  • Trust building
  • Delivering social proof
  • Building a resource
  • Generating actionable user usage data and real world sales leads ( it’s complicated but very cool)

All of these secondary goals and others more specific to you should be built into the principles driving the functional and aesthetic design of a website. This will lead to your website achieving its primary ( the sale ) goals far more often. The site will become the point of conversion for a digital marketing strategy rather than a stand alone island nobody visits.

A lot of the time people look to traffic as the answer to an underperforming website. The SEO guy isn’t going to argue – he wants to make money too.  Sure you need traffic but you more importantly need that traffic to convert.  The more goals you have set up the more success you can measure.

Designing and building a website which actually delivers real world benefit is not rocket science.  It needs a bit of planning, some common sense and a good understanding the digital marketing universe.  Leverage all of this and you’ll be off to a great start.  Once you’ve started moving you can test and adjust as you go.

Don’t accept a website which isn’t making a contribution.  Just don’t!  Ask your web developer questions and if they don’t provide an answer you want to hear then just move on.

Is your website sitting doing nothing?  Does it frustrate you that nobody takes responsibility for the things you feel should be taken care of.  Call us.  We’ll take a  look at your site and offer our view.  What can you lose?

Want to know how to turn visitors into customers?

About Bob Gentle

I work with businesses of all sizes on digital marketing, host the Amplify digital marketing entrepreneur podcast and work with entrepreneurs to help them amplify their business online.