In the old days, all you needed for a good website were some catchy graphics and a little bit of information about who you are and how customers could contact you. In the old days, websites were built to be static (seldom changing); they were used as an extension of your sales team, basically little more than an online brochure. In the old days, websites needed costly webmasters to write code. Making even minor changes was a huge undertaking.
Notice I keep saying in the old days.
Today, most businesses still have an old-school website designed to highlight who you are and what you sell. Unfortunately, this is no longer how websites work. With the advent of social media, the internet has changed. People don’t simply use it as a business directory, and they are certainly not interested in learning about you. Today, the internet is used by the masses to connect socially and to gain valuable information. I have heard many small business owners talk about how they no longer need a website because their website is not working. This is a very dangerous assumption. It is like saying that you no longer need your heart because it is not functioning as well as it used to. The problem is not that websites no longer generate leads, it is that your website has fallen into one or more of the three primary issues that plague most websites.
1. Your website talks all about you, your business, and/or what you sell
This is the biggest issue that websites face today. Business owners incorrectly assume that their website should tell everyone about the business and the business’ products or services. To put it bluntly, people don’t care what you have to sell or how passionate you are about selling it. People want information. They use the internet today to gain knowledge, not to find the service provider with the best “about us” story. If your website is not educating people, they’re not going to stick around long enough to ever find out how your products could help them. The bottom line is that people are online to find a solution to their issues. Your website needs to focus on helping people find solutions. Show them you are the expert they need to turn to. Only after you have gained their trust as an expert will people look to your products or services.
2. Your website is static
A static website is a website with content that never or very seldom changes. As we mentioned above, people use the internet today to find new, fresh ideas and information. If your website is not constantly offering new information, it will quickly become a ghost town. Consumers can tell the difference between a dead website that never changes and a site designed to offer the most up-to-date information. Remember: the internet is now social. Just like no one would want to walk into your store to find no attendants, the same is true for your website. People want to know that you are at home. Even most search engines now give priority to websites that are updated regularly versus ones that are seldom changed. So how often should you update your website? If not daily, then at least weekly. Add a blog, podcast, or video to your website, offer new deals…whatever it takes. Your website must actively engage people. No one will want to talk to you if you don’t want to talk with them first.
3. No “call to action” offer
Most websites don’t think about actively capturing leads. The belief is that if you post a phone number and a contact us page, leads will automatically flow in. As I am sure you have found, this does not work very well. With the internet now being so social, you have to treat it as an in-person meeting. Do you go around to business networking groups silently handing out business cards and hoping that people will call you? Hopefully not. In order to be successful at in-person sales, you have to get your potential lead’s contact info and call them. The same is true online. People will not just contact you because you post a phone number. You have to set up a plan to actively ask potential leads to share their contact info with you so that you can later follow-up with them. A “call to action” offer can be a free coupon, a loyalty program, an e-newsletter, eBook, or a free webinar, just to rattle off a few examples.
Websites do still work today. They are more effective now for lead generating than ever before. The good news is that it is easier and cheaper to create a great website than it was in the old days. The bad news is that you have to put a little time, effort, and energy into creating a captivating site that encourages viewers to engage with you and learn more. If your website is not working, it is not because websites no longer work: it is because people are not finding what they are looking for on your site. This is a telltale sign that it is time to reevaluate your website. The key is not to give in to the lie that websites don’t work, but know that you have to rethink what you were doing 10 years, even just 2 years ago. The internet has changed and if you don’t change with it, you are losing out in a chance of a lifetime to gain new success.