Most people understand the power of the internet and what it means as a growth tool for their business. So why, despite so many knowing what an advantage a great internet presence can be, are so many websites terrible?
Across every industry, in businesses of all sizes, there's this one piece of universal feedback: "My website just doesn't work to produce results." Results typically mean calls, sales, a form being filled out, something that moves a customer along. Websites should act like 24/7 salespeople for businesses. They should be revenue-producing assets. They should be something businesses are proud of.
Reality is, despite the best efforts of well-intentioned designers, developers, marketers, and advertisers, more often than not, a website simply doesn't do what it should be doing. And if that conundrum is frustrating for the business owner, it's just as frustrating for the professional who provides a service around the website--whether that's the designer, SEO, marketer, or copywriter.
Websites fail to produce results because they fail to communicate
There's a simple reason why most websites fail to produce results, no matter how many times they're tweaked, redesigned, redeveloped, rewritten, or enhanced. It's because at its core, a website is really meant as one thing and one thing only: A tool for communication.
Somewhere along the way, it was forgotten that the internet at large is a massive infrastructure that connects people together. It's been forgotten that websites are a tool to enable that communication, and the fundamental reason that they fail is because they communicate extremely poorly.
Think about it. In-person sales, word of mouth, and face-to-face communication works so well because it's fundamentally people talking to people. Your website is trying to do the same thing at scale, except it doesn't have the advantage of a human brain to communicate with.
Sites can only convey messages as well as we program them to. Which, for most people, means writing. And knowing, if you're really fancy, how color enhances the written message. Once you think about your website as a tool for communication, as a way to connect people with people and not just as a business flier, all of a sudden it makes sense why things aren't working out.
Reading your website out loud is a great way to test how it communicates
Need to test whether your website is communicating well? Just read it out loud to someone. Odds are, it sounds terrible. Because somewhere along the way, it was written by copying some other company's website, because it was assumed that, "they must be doing it right, so let's emulate success."
Large corporations have the benefit of large sales teams. Their websites are meant to be more about overall brand-building and less specific toward helping a customer make a buying decision (that's what the salespeople are for). Small and mid-size businesses, meanwhile, don't often have the luxury of manpower. To copy that kind of verbiage and communication is to take away what the strongest superpower of a small business is: personal connection and unique appeal to specific target markets.
Before you've fixed your site's communication problem, nothing else matters. Because while enhancements are important, they're just that, enhancements. And fixing enhancements doesn't solve the core problem.
Fortunately, the more you've learned about sales in your business, the easier this problem is to solve, because this process is the same as training a new salesperson to pitch your product or service. The only difference is that while you can spot a struggling salesperson learning the ropes, it's much more difficult to see what's working and what's not working online without diving into analytics and data.
Think of your website as a salesperson who needs training
Rather than thinking about fixing your website from a technical standpoint, or just assuming that somehow the internet doesn't work for you, instead think of it as a salesperson you need to train to communicate better.
If all you started with was simply recording your sales pitch and creating very conversational writing for your website, answering the questions your customers really ask the most, addressing their concerns, and focusing on what's in it for them--rather than on features or how great you and your company are--you'll find that you get more results, more consistently and with less expense than any other method.
If the above sounds familiar, it's because it's what worked in direct sales, phone sales, customer service, and just about anything else business related, because it's inherently all people talking to people. The only difference is the medium of communication.