QUESTIONS FROM BUSINESS OWNERS

How can I attract better customers with my website?

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If you’ve ever experienced the trend of getting a ton of leads through your contact forms that don’t seem to have two cents to rub together to pay for your services, I’ve got some practical tips and tweaks to improve your website and attract much better customers to your website.

In an ideal world, wouldn’t it be great if the time and effort you spend to help customers was surrounded by a “velvet rope” like at fancy red-carpet events? You can and should have that velvet rope! In the end, you and your customers will be much happier. They will feel personally cared for and special, and you will have the time and resources you need to provide your service while maintaining profitability (and a healthy work-life balance instead of breaking your back catering to demanding customers who push back on price).

There are a few problems that can lead to unqualified leads jumping over that velvet rope and wasting your time and energy. Let’s go through four of them one by one.

1. Your website may be making you look low-budget.

Customers, or potential customers, make snap decisions based purely on the appearance of your website. These decisions may not even be conscious, but they are powerful and not easy to reverse.

That means having a professional design is critical. But how can you know if your site looks professional if you’re not a web designer?

Simply put, good design follows certain rules. That’s right– art may be subjective, but design isn’t. That doesn’t mean your website needs to look like everyone else’s, because there’s a lot of room for style within the rules. But check your website for the following elements to see whether it’s following the rules.

Fonts should be easily readable, and convey the personality of your brand. Serif fonts are traditional, and trustworthy; sans-serif fonts are modern and clean.

Ideally your design will feature two fonts, one for headings and one for body text. Sometimes a third can sneak in as an accent for text that’s not critical to the message– but keep in mind every font you add makes your site take longer to load. Websites that have too many fonts also tend to look messy and disorganized.

Colors should convey feelings you want customers to associate with your business, and be used in a way that ensures content is easy to access. For example, red text on a chartreuse background is a bad idea as it’s hard to read.

A great layout uses visual elements to keep customers interested enough to stick around to hear your whole pitch. For example, say you have a number of services and you’re listing them in a two-column layout. One column has an image, and the other column has the headline and a paragraph or two of description. The first item may have the image on the left, on the next item should have the image on the right. This arrangement gives the reader a little hit of “novelty” and encourages them to continue scrolling. Small, but it works!

A good layout also tells your users what’s most important. Headline text is larger and has space around it (but not too much space that distances the headline from its associated content). Other text can be bolded, colored more brightly or more muted to draw or deflect the eye, depending on how important it is.

Images should be high quality and add meaning to your text content. High quality means that they shouldn’t be pixelated or low-resolution, or with the wrong aspect ratio for the space. Image styles– for example, illustrations and photos– shouldn’t be mixed.

Good design makes customers stick around longer, and enables you to charge what you’re worth without pushback. Great design will make them genuinely delighted to pay whatever it costs!

2. Maybe your website isn’t inspiring a lot of confidence that you’re a trustworthy business.

Inspiring trust is critical be be able to charge high end prices.

Avoid any kind of mistake. That means no error codes, from your website or your web host. No typos. No grammar mistakes. No broken images, and no broken links.

All information should be current. Do you have a ‘copyright’ notice in your website footer? What does the year say? If it doesn’t mention the current year, change it right away. Do you have a blog? If you haven’t updated your blog in over a year, remove all the datelines from the posts (and make sure that your content itself isn’t obviously dated).

Associate yourself with third party trusted sources. This can be your local chamber of commerce, big recognizable brand names you’ve worked with, or even the Better Business Bureau or other recognizable names.

Feature customer reviews. You want people who visit your website to know, like, and trust you. What better way than by featuring the personal experiences of those who’ve already done business with you? These reviews and testimonials can convince customers that you’re worth the price you charge, because you will reliably deliver what they need.

You don’t have to take my word for it– I’ve adapted the tips in this #2 section from a Stanford University research paper which produced 10 guidelines for credible websites. You can read what makes a credible website here.

3. You need to position yourself as an authority or thought leader to set yourself apart from the competition.

One way to set yourself apart is to sell by helping and educating your customers, rather than competing on price.

Have a mailing list is key. It takes 6-8 “touches” on average to make a sale, but most visitors leave after viewing one page. Collect emails addresses from visitors so you can connect with your them even after they leave your website, to educate, inform, and persuade.

Offer something genuinely helpful in return. Website visitors won’t just give their email address for free, so you’ll need to come up with a “lead magnet” to attract them. It doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking– a helpful checklist, a curated resource collection, or a quick guide will do. It should be actionable and give a quick win, to demonstrate your know-how.

Avoid guides that turn into DIY tutorials– you want to be helpful to customers who prefer to hire out the work, after all. The guide should help them to see the value of what you’re offering rather than replace you.

Don’t say “subscribe to our newsletter.” Talk about the actual benefit of your lead magnet. Tell them how often you’ll email. Use a light touch on how often you pitch.

4. Don’t get into a race to the bottom.

Sometimes in order to generate leads, businesses run specials or get involved in third parties that claim to leverage their huge audience to funnel business to you, in exchange for a cut of your profit. These can be a signal to price-sensitive customers that you’re willing to lower your prices.

It can be a challenge to turn away business by not participating in this price competition, but it will be worth it in the end. You may be able to negotiate, not your price, but your service level to be able to get the business without cutting into your profit.

If it feels like you’ve hit an invisible wall and you’re not sure why your website isn’t attracting qualified customers– or any leads at all– be sure to check out my guide “7 Reasons Your Website Isn’t Working (And How to Fix It)” which you can download today to start self-evaluating your website.