Posts Tagged ‘web content guidelines


web site hurting your sales effort?

by Pete Monfre

When many companies talk about marketing, they inevitably end up focusing myopically on their company web site.  Do a search in any search engine for “marketing” and the vast majority of topics will be on-line marketing. It’s as if the web has become the singular representation of  of marketing and sales tactics.

While your web site is important, it is a mistake to consider it as the only factor in reaching prospects and converting them to customers. For most companies the web is a critical focal point during the early stages of your sales process for prospects. The trouble arises when the we attempt to make the site everything to everyone. I’m not saying there are many different uses for a corporate web site (service, support, education, social interaction, etc.) but most of my clients expect their site to primarily help drive sales. Whatever you are trying to achieve with your site, the key is to have a clear understanding of what it the end game is and then focus your efforts accordingly.

If you want your site to contribute to successful sales, you have to understand how it functions in the sales cycle, align the content with how you sell,  and take into account customer evaluation and buying criteria.

This is not as easy as it sounds. One thing that makes this idea difficult to implement, and indeed one of the main reasons most sites are deficient in this area is that the wrong people control the content on the site. Most companies put the marketing or I.T. department in charge of the company’s web site. Neither of these groups typically have any incentive to collaborate with the sales team so the content of the site often conflicts with how sales functions. A better method is to assign someone who can lead a cross functional team in a strategic process to determine the optimum approach. My process creates a collaborative environment between sales, marketing and I.T. to first establish a foundation of requirements and desired outcomes. Then, we work to align these requirements with how prospects typically use the web to vet potential suppliers.

In the majority of B2B and B2C selling environments, the web site is the primary tool a potential customer uses to decide if you qualify for their business. Once a buyer is aware of your company (either through search engines or via referral or other demand generation work) the first thing they do is check your site. My research indicates that customers visit potential suppliers sites initially with three primary questions in mind:

Do your company’s capabilities match my needs?
Is this company capable, credible and trustworthy?
Should I include them on my short list of potential suppliers?

If you pass these initial tests, you will make the short list. If you don’t, you’ll never know because the prospect won’t inform you of your failure. They will simply move on to your competitor.

The typical B2B buyer spends only minutes at your site with the vast majority never making it past your home page. You need to make sure you’ve at least answered the above questions and offered some incentives to invite the visitor deeper into the site or to contact your sales team. One way you can do this is to offer special reports or other valuable information in return for revealing the visitor’s identity (usually in the form of an email address or other contact information). Many of these people won’t be ready to buy yet, so offering a subscription to an electronic publication is effective to maintain an ongoing conversation with people who have shown some level on interest in what you offer.

At the same time, your site must be attractive, professional and easy to navigate. Visual organization is key – if the visitor is presented with a chaotic layout of graphics, text, widgets and other elements they will simply determine that it is too much work to evaluate your company and with a click of the mouse, they are gone. This is where a professional designer is worth his or her weight in gold.

If your site aligns with your marketing and sales processes and delivers the right messaging at the right time, you will pass more buyer’s tests, make more short lists and, ultimately, more sales.


This weeks most aggravating web sites

I was doing some research today (because that’s what I do) and came across two web sites for technology companies. (I say “technology companies because I still can’t figure out what they do) One company is relatively new so they get some slack for that. However, the other has been in business for several years and I know that it struggles to attract new clients. Both of these companies are so far off the mark with their web sites it keeps me up at night.

Why do I care? Because I know these companies have good products and services and really want to succeed. But the way they are attempting to communicate with the world completely defeats their desire to grow. It actually hurts them!

Here are my issues with these web sites

  1. Waaaaaaaay too much information. I know engineers love this stuff but there is a time and a place to barf eight million words about your gizmo or software thingy. Your home page is not the time or the place. The average web visitor spends just a couple minutes on your site. They need to know what you do, confirm you are “for real” and decide if they should talk to you. That’s it.
  2. These companies do everything for everyone. Not only will they whip up some software for you, they’ll walk your dog and do your laundry. These sites scream “For God’s sake we just need revenue and we’ll do anything to get it!” Not the strongest position in the world.
  3. They attempt to answer every question a visitor might have. Why would anyone contact you then? The idea should be to answer the visitors key questions (see #1 above) and give them a reason to contact you. As you progress through your sales process (you DO have one don’t you?) you can increase the amount and complexity of the information.
  4. One site has zero contact information! No phone number. No email address. No physical address. No teletype address. No P.O. Box. Nada.
  5. Both sites feature lots of diagrams that are supposed to illustrate what they do. These diagrams are massive jumbles of criss-crossing lines, seemingly random boxes and cryptic labels. I just want to know what your outcomes look like. I don’t need a technicial diagram of the space shuttle!

I’m not trying to be harsh or a know-it-all. I really want to help – to me this is low hanging fruit. Without engineers, we would be living in caves in gnawing on cold mastodon bones. But when it comes to marketing and selling, they are their competition’s greatest assets.

Who is Pete Monfre

CLICK HERE to visit my web site

I'm a serial entrepreneur, marketing and media guy, raconteur, writer, producer and consultant. I write this little blog to help you unravel the mysteries of marketing and selling, to expose the silliness that masquerades as marketing and help you make better decisions that will grow your business. And I have fun with it. Why not comment? That way we can have a conversation. Or better yet, hop on over to my web site and drop me a line.

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