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Sorry But...Your Baby IS UGLY!

FIVE OF THE BIGGEST MISTAKES BUSINESSES MAKE WITH THEIR WEBSITES.

As a part of the ecosystem of selling products online, the TUO Team is often asked to consult with clients on a variety of issues that generally involve online presence and digital marketing strategies. Certainly being asked to provide commentary on WEBSITES are among the most common requests we get. Can you view our website and see what you think? Can you tell us how to link TUO stores on our website so it's e-commerce friendly? Can you develop a custom Designer tool like others have that will make it easier for me to sell my stuff?

So naturally what follows is TUO having to go deeper into explaining the core principles of great websites--defining their primary purpose, their role in your sales and marketing mix, vital success criteria, measuring ROI, promoting and driving traffic, design and development platforms, content strategy, ongoing maintenance, search optimization, etc. If we're being really honest, many of the websites we're asked to review are just bad and UGLY, and most are actually doing damage to the very businesses they're intended to support. In this day and age, there is simply no excuse for having a website that may, in fact, be chasing business away. Or at the very least, doing absolutely nothing for your business.

Just this past week during a business planning discussion, a client asked this question:

WHAT ROLE DO YOU THINK OUR WEBSITE SHOULD BE PLAYING IN OUR BUSINESS?

The answer was (and is)--your website should be at the epicenter of all activities that drive new business, and should be held accountable to demonstrating PROVEN REVENUE AND GROWTH. Key words being PROVEN and GROWTH!

So does your current website drive proven revenue and growth? More often than not, the answer we get is--I really don't know. But really the answer is NO.

Below are the TOP 5 MISTAKES Dealers make with their websites. For the sake of brevity we've attempted to boil it down to the most common. Let's begin by doing an objective assessment of your website. Open up your website on another browser, gather together a few of your teammates, and let's do an honest evaluation. Buy a few pizzas and a six-pack (or two), and be sure to encourage candor (that usually comes about the 2nd six-pack anyway). If you're really bold, do this with a few of your current customers and let the truth seek the light...

1. Bad or non-existent Initial Impression for the intended Audience.

Now, click on your website, then click away. Do this a few times. Each time do not look at your website for more than 5 seconds. Then ask yourself (and your team)--what is the initial impression? Good? Bad? Okay? What are the most memorable visuals? Is it clear what we do? Is there anything engaging to the visitor? What is the key take-away? Do we convey a level of quality and professionalism? The average website viewer will "stick" to a website for no more than 5 seconds.

Most websites fall into two groups: a) YUK! Not appealing at all (disjointed, confusing, no point of interest, visually boring, out-dated and stale); b) NOT BAD, BUT I'VE SEEN THIS BEFORE. Looks pretty good, but as you drill down, the website looks like so many others. Often cluttered with too much information, and no primary point or purpose. Could be an apparel brand website. Is it? All too often the main visuals are for the brands being sold, or the discounts being offered, and not (enough) about your business. Thanks to the explosion of visual social media (especially Instagram), visitors' expectations are changing, and nowadays visitors expect visuals such as animated GIF's or videos that are commonplace on social media. Engaging, compelling and even entertaining. Finally, determine exactly and precisely for whom your website is intended. Remember, your website is not for you. Instead, it's to persuade and convince the prospective customers you want to serve, and convince them in a minute or less that you are the perfect fit. Again, too many websites try to appeal to everyone, and therefore appeal to no one. Get specific in defining and understanding exactly who is your target audience? It's imperative to have a purposeful and planned INITIAL IMPRESSION for every targeted visitor to your website.

2. No prominent POINT OF DIFFERENCE.

Actually, websites are a reflection of your Brand Strategy for your business (or total lack thereof). The old Yogi Berra expression relates to branding and marketing for your business--if you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there. Way too many businesses have given no serious thought to what IS, and WILL BE, their UNIQUE POINT OF DIFFERENCE for their business. As Seth Godin (former CMO of Yahoo and famous marketing guru) coined it--what is your PURPLE COW? That thing that makes you stand out? So what is the point of your business (and therefore your website) and what does it clearly say about you? Too many websites in this industry have no point and prominently feature the apparel brands they offer. In many cases, the viewer can even click around and be re-directed to the apparel brand's website. Or my personal favorite--including the apparel brand Team and Designer tools that enables the viewer to complete their purchase directly from the apparel brand site, totally cutting out the dealer who delivered them in the first place. Before even discussing whether a new website is needed or not, figure out the answer to this question--what is YOUR unique selling proposition? And does that even matter to the people you are trying to attract? Why should ANYONE care to work with you? What is the COMPELLING and DIFFERENTIATING promise you make to EVERY customer you serve? Then of course, make sure your website demonstrates and communicates that clearly--and keeps YOUR prospect sticking around with engaging content and interactive techniques that prove the point.

3. Not clear what you want the visitor to do.

Okay, so I found your website. Now EXACTLY what do you want me to do and to believe? Don't fall for the trap that includes adding a string of nebulous and confusing navigation tabs across the top. Once again, if the visitor does not get pulled into what you're offering right away, and has to spend too much time looking around, they simply will click away. Give them a clear and interactive "something to do" right upfront that will draw them in and enable you to begin to tell your story in a creative and compelling way. Make it VERY clear what you want them to do! Explainer Videos (short, creative, entertaining, often animated videos that tell your story in 30 seconds or less) are a great way to begin to engage and inform. Pop-up, interactive Light Boxes, where the viewer provides some brief information in order to receive something in return, work well too. There are literally thousands of simple, engaging, creative techniques you can (and should) consider including in your website right up front. Of course, whatever you include should serve to promote what is different about YOU!

4. Website is just old and out-dated.

Quick. Scroll to the bottom footer of your website. Check that "copyright" date. Now, scroll up and see if there is a "not secure" alert next to the URL. Review the content and ask yourself....when was the last time we updated ANYTHING? Do you still have pictures from the tournament or event you sponsored over 2 1/2 years ago? Or testimonials from customers who may no longer be doing business with you? Finally, click on your website Privacy and Policy statement (if you even have one) and see if it was updated in the last 5 years. You may not realize it, but there are numerous, unintended ways you are screaming to your visitors:

WE DON'T CARE ENOUGH ABOUT OUR WEBSITE TO KEEP IT CURRENT!

What you're really communicating is--we don't care enough about our business to keep our website up-to-date. In turn, you're giving any visitors to your site the permission to believe that your website is a direct reflection of how you do business. Rust just begets more rust.

5. A beautiful Billboard on the MOON!

The greatest website on Earth (or on the moon for that matter) will not do anything by itself. "I built it and now they will come." Obviously it doesn't quite work like that. Instead, your website should be viewed as the center point of everything you do to grow your business. So investing around the tactics that drive prospects to your website is where the real success (or failure) is achieved.

SEO / SEARCH MARKETING = did you know that Google changes the algorithm they use for SEARCH at least every

few months? In fact, over a year ago Google significantly revamped their formula to favor MOBILE RESPONSIVE websites in their rankings. So trying to win at the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) game can be expensive and never-ending. The bottom line with SEO is--your website MUST be mobile responsive, content kept current, and you must have engaging content (including tagged video) that links to other "footprints" you create and connect on the worldwide internet web (such as YouTube, Vimeo and Social Media). Do not lean too heavily on SEO as the only tool to drive traffic to your site.

EMAIL MARKETING = as we've clearly explained in previous posts, email marketing is the workhorse (and unsung hero) of any marketing plan. Besides the obvious of staying in "constant contact" with your customers and giving them new reasons to stay engaged, interact and buy from you, it's also a great tool to pitch what you do in simple, yet creative ways to prospects. When done right, a dynamite website can serve to be the closer in your prospecting efforts using email marketing.

THE REST = finally, your website can serve as the closing PUNCHLINE and call-to-action across all of your sales and marketing efforts. Make sure it's compelling enough to serve that role, and that you have the proper analytics hooked up to prove that it is serving that purpose. When done right, your website can become the cohesive link to everything you do with your sales and marketing initiatives, and therefore in growing your business in ways you can PROVE.

Remember. TUO has gathered together experts in a wide array of technology competencies and has a growing roster of Alliance Partner companies. The website development partner of TUO is the largest Woo and Magento website development company in the world--Ecomitize. TUO and Ecomitize offer one free hour of consultation on any website project you might be planning. Give us a call to schedule your session: 888.428.5188.


 

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