Some clients come to me to improve their websites by adding pages, changing the colour scheme, improving the layout, or just making their website look better in general.
A line that I often hear is, "it just needs a design refresh". Sure, there are always ways to improve on a website's design, but you can do so while completely missing the point of what your website is doing for your business.
So here's the problem: you can spend hours and hours making your website look pixel perfect, but without it having a single improvement on your business.
Okay, then what is a great website?
A great website will generate new opportunities for your business. What that opportunity is will differ between businesses, but there should always be a purpose for having a website. You don’t need a website for the sake of having a website, in fact not all businesses do. The opportunity that most websites will yield is the number of leads, customers, or sales that a business generates.
I've come across countless websites that might not be visually amazing, but have been carefully crafted to get me - the customer - to act on something. Because of this, I still find it irresistible and find myself becoming a customer in one way or another.
This is because the business isn't thinking about what colour palette or font the customer would like the most, but what they've come to the website for in the first place; the business is thinking of how it can put the page visitors through a series of steps to convince them to eventually sign up, subscribe, or buy. That right there is the conversion funnel.
Summed up, the conversion funnel is the process of moving a potential customer to a paying customer through a series of steps.
Let's say your business is an interior design firm. You have a website set up to display photos of previous work that you have done for customers. You've also put up a phone number and an email, so if potential clients want your services, they can contact you.
But this website isn't doing what you want it to. It's been up for just over a year and the number of customers that you get contacting you through your website is very low.
Does this website need to be redesigned? Why not, it could help if the layout looked a little nicer, and you added an about page.
A lot of businesses incorrectly upgrade their website by "redesigning it", without actually thinking through the process the customer is going through when they land on the website. Rather than redesigning or adding to your website, you want to redesign the process that your customers go through to improve conversions, so that you can ultimately grow your business.
This is your conversion funnel; the steps your customers go through before they decide to finally act on something that you want them to do. You can add page after page of content to your website hoping that it will "improve" your website, but without understanding where your customers are falling through your conversion funnel, you won't improve your customer/sales rate.
If you are thinking about improving or redesigning your website, make sure you are putting yourself in your customer's shoes, and thinking through their process.
Here are the steps that you need to focus on:
1. Why are customers coming to your website? What are they looking for?
If people are coming to your website, they are trying to solve a problem. It could be a problem they want to fix instantly, or a problem they want to fix in the long run (or they could just be mindlessly browsing your website/products, but that's a story for another day). If you already know why they are visiting your website (which I'd imagine you already do), then you need to know how to convince them that you are the right person to fix their problem.
2. How can you convince them to take the next step?
Your end goal for everyone who comes to your site is to get them to act on something. In the case of the interior design services, the goal is to get the customer act on paying for your interior design service. If they aren't ready to make a commitment, think of a smaller step that you can take them through first.
This is where you can focus on softening the process. For example, turning your "contact" form into an "inquiry" form, which turns the implication from having to ‘commit to a project’ to ‘considering the possibility of committing to the project’. If a customer isn't ready to fork over the $15,000 for their project, try to navigate them to the direction of the endpoint.
3. How can you nurture them long term if they aren't ready yet?
There are many ways that you can get customers into a long term process if they won't do everything on their first visit. Someone can be convinced to give over their email much quicker than giving over their money. You can leverage this by getting them to sign up to an inspiration or tips and tricks newsletter first, and then deliver them great content until you eventually pitch the sale (or show your products) to them. You might not even need to do this; if you can increasingly provide value, they might eventually make their way to you anyway.
Before you get carried away by all the things you can improve or add to your website, evaluate your business goals, and understand the conversion funnel your customers go through. This will help you reflect on your goals and improve the rate of your leads, customers or sales.
If you can take one thing away, it’s this: Rather than focusing on your website's content, focus on how that content relates to your customers, and how you can convert that content into a series of steps that you can funnel your customer through to eventually get to your end goal.
Before you start your next big website project, it's always important to grasp what goals you intend to get out of it.
Thinking from your point of view rather than the perspective your customers could be losing you sales.