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Contractors want their websites to sell. Yet, for many, this online avenue for reaching customers falls short of their desires — and makes them wonder which way to point fingers.
Is it that marketing guy’s fault? The graphic designer’s bells and whistles? The copywriter, the server, or the friend of a friend of a friend who knows something about websites? Or a combination of me, myself, and I?
The truth is, most contractors have typically been sold on the fact that their websites will perform miracles while they sleep. Yet, they have been rudely awakened to the costly fact that traffic, visitors, SEO, PPC, click-throughs, page views, fans, and followers are not leads. They are merely prospects, and require a sequence of events to convert them into leads.
So, how do you get your site where it needs to be?
Selling Starts at Home
Your home page design is critical. Imagine that a tic-tac-toe board is drawn over your screen. Due to eye-pattern measured response, the top three spaces left to right (1, 2, 3) are the most valuable in increasing order. Space ‘9’ (bottom right) ranks next in importance. Contractors should focus their most valuable information in these spots. Unfortunately, I often see huge logos, ridiculous photos, and un-clickable copy in these spots, and that’s a total waste.
Another big mistake is no “Info Capture” ability. This is akin to a salesperson at a store never introducing herself. Any site (or clerk) lacking this basic ability is a sales failure.
We also see an overabundance of website tabs — as if more is always better. Ask the designers of the $623 million national health care website if this was a good idea. We like to limit tab choices to five. Not eight, not 12, but five.
And you can quit with the testimonial tab altogether as a thoroughly pointless place to put great comments. No one goes to your testimonial page except you, your staff, and the testimonial giver, so just stop it. You put these on the other pages to regularly endorse and encourage action.
A potential problem is that you may have the wrong person designing your site. If that’s you, it’s OK if you’re good at clean design, excellent coding, intuitive navigability, and direct response. If not, why bother? You think a Web designer can replace a fan motor?
My main advice here is do not confuse an artist with a business person. One is known to have the word starving in front of his title; the other understands commerce. Make sure both talents show up on your site.
What Else Should Be on Your Site?
Sites with blogs get 33 percent more visitors than ones without (source: HubSpot). Twitter and Facebook are more for relevance branding than anything else, yet cross-linking Facebook to your site drives outstanding SEO.
Twitter basically drives me insane, and unless you’re a rock star or an aberrant exhibitionist — think Charlie Sheen — it is essentially too short for much product, service, advice, banter, to gain much traction. Twitter’s best feature is the Twitter Feed which allows you to pre-schedule posts. Go there now and see how it’ll make your Facebook and blog multiply your presence.
Also, this sounds like semantics, but I recommend you offer a way to request an appointment over schedule an appointment. Scheduling live online creates some manageability issues. Instead, keep it simple — click here for an appointment — and let that open an email that requests a time or day of the week. As a bonus, you instantly have their email address. Smart contractors will request a cell number.
Also, integrate your online presence with your offline marketing. For example, a real mailed newsletter is perfect to offer on your site since it is a) valuable b) different than the other goofballs offering e-zines only, as if that’s something people want more of, c) requires a home address. The last one is the real reason for you, as it is very difficult to tune up a furnace at an email address.
How Can You Get Found?
Search engine marketing (SEM) or search engine optimization (SEO), which one spells success for getting your site found on the Web? Both.
SEM is generally a paid search (Google Adwords, Bing Ads, etc.) where SEO is more of your site’s ability to attract views and visitors organically (not paid, in other words). Each add to your site’s rank on search engines.
Here’s the deal — if you’re not on Page 1 of your main or chosen search terms, such as Heating in Hoosegow Oklahoma, then your own mother can’t find you. Over 90 percent of searchers never make it to Page 2. So you need SEM and SEO. If you have a $50,000 website that it’d take Vasco de Gama using a GPS to locate, then you’ve wasted $50,000.
Remember, searchers are searching. They’re not idly hoping to learn about why flames are shooting out of their furnace; they need help, like 10 minutes ago. And you’re not getting the call if you’re on Page 2. Likewise, a shopper today will know more about you than your pastor by the time they’ve read your site, your reviews — good and bad — and decided to call. They are prequalified today and if you blow it by the time they call, you’re done.
Here are some tips to increase your “find-ability:”
• If you’ve not done so already, get your local listing done now. Today. Don’t let that free simple step go undone.
• Title all of your Web pages with pertinent keywords.
• Title all of your photographs the same way.
• Use search words (keywords) in your lead articles and headlines.
• Send emails to your list inviting them to consume good content, not sales junk.
• Same with your Facebook followers. Offer good content, such as advice, money-saving methods, answers to questions, and more.
The above, if done weekly, will drive activity to your site, which Google rewards as relevance and activity.
Try this advanced technique, too: Include video — also titled — that addresses a topic that is often searched. Video consumption has multiplied in the past two years. In fact, we have 29 in our video library on virtually every topic a searcher would want.
Keep It Current
Websites aren’t like billboards that stay in one spot, unchanged, for 12 months. Not if you want your site to be relevant.
Weekly updates to you are becoming the norm, yet monthly would be the absolute minimum. That’s where a blog or Facebook posting comes in. They link to your site, creating activity, which Google likes a lot.
Whatever you do … stay active. Consumers judge a company by the marketing, and if your website is your online company spokesperson, what does an outdated, dead, unprofessional site say to them? I’ll let you answer.
Publication date: 3/10/2014