The holidays are over. The cookie jar is empty. The decorations are back in the basement.
Time to take off your cozy fleece jumpsuit and put on your business owner pants.
What can you do to grow your business this year?
Well, I hear a business websites is great in doing exactly that.
Want to get more leads and sales through your website this year? Check out these 20 tips to make your website successful this year.
Don’t change a thing on your website if you’re happy with your clients and the money. Who cares if Karen got a new chic website everyone’s praising on Twitter? You do you.
But if you’d like to get different clients or clients that pay better, see below.
Let go of the fear to appeal to fewer people.
There are freaking 7,5 billion people living on Earth. Trust me, there still will be enough prospects out there for you when you narrow your target audience. But now your website and offer will resonate with them much better.
Make sure you’re familiar with stages of prospect awareness and decide what stage of awareness your prospects are at on every page of your website.
This will help you recognize the parts of your website that are missing their goal completely, and instead of tweaking the copy here and there with no result rewrite it from scratch and see improvement.
Unless you have invented a new thing (hello, robot vacuums!) or offer an unusual service, don’t bother addressing people who have never heard of the things you offer on your homepage or service pages.
Instead, talk to problem-aware or solution-aware prospects (see, I told you you need to know the stages of awareness).
- If you’re a copywriter, burn the sections “What is copywriting?” or “Why you need good copy” with fire. If your prospect doesn’t know that already, they won’t be able to appreciate the value you deliver and won’t be ready to pay your fees.
- If you’re a search marketing agency, don’t shy away from using words like SEO, PPC, backlinks etc. These are the exact words your prospects are already using to describe their needs.
Always address your prospects as “you” (even if you’re a fancy pancy company).
Remove these words and phrases from your web copy:
- our mission / values / philosophy
- we are proud to / we take pride in
- the best (provider, solution, software, etc.)
- Be specific as to who you’re addressing exactly (“you”, “businesses of X size / Y niche / Z problems”)
- Put your prospects in focus (not yourself) by telling them why they should care to read the next sentence or to work with you
- Make specific claims and support them with data, testimonials or case studies
Declutter your navigation using these rules of thumb:
- Not more than 7 main navigation items
- No drop-downs (except for under Services or Products)
Delete these pages from your website:
Add a page “Case studies” to your navigation and website. After you create at least a couple of case studies, of course. Because – have you heard? – case studies are the most powerful social proof that makes your prospects go crazy about your offers.
Add photos of real people (yours or your team mates) on your homepage or at least your About page. Avoid stock photographs of people who are neither real nor you / your colleagues.
Make sure your homepage passes a 5-second test. After looking at your homepage for just 5 seconds, your prospects should be able to tell:
- what you do
- for whom
- what’s the benefit
Make your About page shorter and remove any sentence that doesn’t make your prospects:
- relate to you more because of the common values or experiences
- trust you more to do a good job
Make your individual service pages longer by adding the description of your process and addressing reservations you anticipate your prospects to have.
For Pete’s sake, add a proper footer to your website.
Learn the basics of Google Analytics (it’s much less scary than you think). Because you can’t improve what you can’t measure.
Once you aren’t scared of Google Analytics anymore, do these two things:
- Create a custom dashboard to be able to see the most important metrics of your website at one glance
- Set conversion goals to get excited when you see more people clicking on your CTAs buttons / contacting you / buying from you this week than last week or to see how the changes to copy or design influence user behavior
I love this comprehensive guide by Andy Crestodina. It’s written in plain language anyone will understand and has many videos and screenshots.
Start spying on your website visitors to better understand how you can improve your pages. And by “spying” I mean recording their browsing sessions as if you’re peeking behind their shoulders using Hotjar, Crazy Egg or similar software (you will be surprised but that’s totally legal).
If you’re a freelancer, hire someone (even if just for a small job). You’ll discover many things that you didn’t know mattered so much to clients, which will help you improve your services (and understand that you’re more valuable to your prospects than you think, because you can keep deadlines and communicate clearly).
Before hiring a web designer, ask him a couple of trick questions.
- “I was thinking of adding a slider to the homepage. What do you think?” The correct answer to this question is “Noooo!“
- Or “I hear one-page websites are in. Could you make me one?” The correct answer here would be “That’s a really bad idea.“
The same goes for hiring a copywriter. Tell your potential hire something to what a good copywriter should object.
- “I was thinking of not having much text on my website. We’re a designer agency, so the images of our work will speak for themselves.”
- Or “I really like our current website tagline, <insert that vague blah that currently lives on your homepage, for ex., ‘Solutions for success’>. I think we should keep it.”
A good copywriter will tell you that:
- Images are highly interpretive and that without clear words that explain what your client offers, for whom and why people should hire them they won’t get many leads from their website
- “Haha. Only over my dead body!” or anything else that means they don’t think it’s a good idea, because your current tagline doesn’t tell your prospects what you do and why they should care.
If you’re taking care of your website yourself, don’t try to do everything at once. Do whatever you can without stressing yourself out.
Knowing that you need to change a gazillion things on your website could make anyone hyperventilate.
You know what helps? Putting those things on paper and tackling them one-by-one whenever you have the time and energy (even if a small change to your navigation is all you could fit in this week).
As they say, drop by drop the sea is drained.