What is it about website design that seems to elude most business owners and marketing managers — and a healthy percentage of web designers?
Website design seems straightforward, at least on the surface. Use good design principles, create an effective user interface, include some clearly written content, build in some SEO and give your site visitors what they came looking for — simple, right?
And yet, week after week, we talk to potential clients who, despite having done all these things, still don’t see the increase in traffic and conversions they expected. So what gives?
Often, once we take a look, we discover that they have designed their site as though it were a brochure. This approach to web design falls short when it comes to driving business and revenue growth.
Website Content that Goes Beyond the Brochure
The problem with brochure-style website writing is that it talks a lot about who you are and what you do, but it does little to address your prospects or clients and their needs. Brochure-style writing puts the onus on the visitor to connect the dots between their problem and the suggestion that your company can solve it.
Your site should be more about emphasizing your services, rather than reciting what you perceive as the benefits of working with your company.
Think about it this way: if you own a heating and air conditioning company, you might be proud (rightfully so) of how friendly and well-groomed your technicians are, and how good they smell.
But your prospects aren’t searching for “friendly HVAC contractor” or “well-groomed AC repairman.” They’re looking for “emergency AC repair” and “furnace installation West Jordan.”
Yes, you can devote some attention to the benefits of choosing your company, but your prospects want to make that decision for themselves. Testimonials and customer ratings will tell them what your clients think of your business. Prospects will regard that information much more seriously than anything you try to tell them.
As playwright Anton Chekov wrote, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
When you orient your website design and content to focus on your company’s perceived benefits, you’re taking the outbound/push marketing approach, rather than the inbound/pull marketing approach.
To better understand this concept, let’s revisit some classic principles of marketing — specifically inbound versus outbound marketing techniques.
Think about some of the classic ways businesses market themselves, such as:
- TV spots
- Radio commercials
- Print ads
- Press releases
- Cold calling
- Email blasts
What do all these platforms have in common?
Each of these types of marketing goes out, hoping to find a receptive audience. In a perfect world, they would find their way to some well-qualified prospects, grab their attention and prompt them to do something (call, come to your business, visit your website, etc.).
These are all examples of outbound marketing, also known as push marketing. In other words, you push your message out into the stratosphere and hope it lands somewhere useful. In many ways, social media marketing is a form of outbound marketing.
Let’s consider the counter strategy to outbound marketing, i.e., inbound marketing or pull marketing.
Understanding Inbound or “Pull Marketing”
Except for a few notable examples (e.g., the Yellow Pages), inbound marketing didn’t exist before the advent of the internet.
Once consumers began to use internet search engines to find products and services they needed, businesses got the opportunity to compete for their patronage using inbound marketing strategies.
Granted, it took a while for savvy marketers to figure out ways to do that, but once the idea caught on, search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) was born.
Since that time, internet marketing specialists have sought to identify and perfect ways to draw (or pull) their prospects in.
The Death Spiral of Push Marketing
Today, the internet has rendered many forms of outbound marketing virtually powerless.
We fast forward through TV commercials or stream (ad-free) programming. We listen to music playlists or (ad-free) satellite radio. We put our phone numbers on do not call lists and toss junk mail into the recycle bin the minute it arrives. We block pop-up ads on our web browsers and use a spam filter to keep the junk out of our email inboxes.
So much information comes at us today that we’ve developed these strategies to filter out the spam. And by spam, we mean advertising. And, really, isn’t that what the majority of outbound marketing platforms mean to us in the digital age?
If we need a product or service, we go searching for it on our terms. Who has time to wait for a billboard, a commercial or a mailer to cross our path? Very few of us do, and the number is dwindling rapidly.
The principle behind inbound or pull marketing is to create the perfect bait to lure your prospects in. The way most businesses achieve this objective today is through their websites.
Companies do still spend big bucks on TV and radio spots, magazine ads, etc. But these strategies are used today to generate brand awareness for big companies with generous marketing budgets. For the average small-to-medium-size business, outbound marketing does not produce enough return on investment (ROI) to make it worthwhile.
Is Your Website Pushing or Pulling?
The single biggest inbound marketing asset you have is your business website.
You can supplement this with landing pages and a few other “booster” strategies, but the overarching goal of inbound marketing is to get your prospects on the hook and reel them in. And your website has to make that happen.
In fact, once it’s up and running, it’s out there working for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It’s an elegant and effective marketing strategy, and done correctly, it should provide a substantial ROI. If it’s not done correctly, however, your website will languish.
Today, even though the internet has been driving consumer behavior for the better part to two decades, business owners, marketing managers, website designers and, yes, many so-called internet marketing gurus, are out there designing websites like they would design a print brochure.
If you take a brochure writing approach to your site, you will struggle to ever rank well with the search engines. Google’s algorithms focus heavily on engagement, which brochure-style sites lack. Without traction in the organic search results, your reach will be limited.
The few qualified prospects that do find their way to your website will likely move on to the competition once they get a look at a poorly organized website because, today, particularly in the digital realm, push marketing isn’t effective for driving the behaviors of the digital generation.
Site visitors will recognize that you’re trying to advertise to them, which doesn’t fly today. Instead, you need to
- Engage site visitors
- Provide valuable information
- Solve prospects’ problems
- Demonstrate how doing business with you benefits them
Unless you give prospects what they want, they will tune you out and move on.
Would you like to learn more about how to lure your prospects in with pull marketing? Be Locally SEO provides a comprehensive suite of internet marketing services, including SEO, content marketing and website design. We can perform a comprehensive analysis of your website and digital marketing and recommend strategies to increase your traffic and conversions.