When we’re particularly passionate about our business, we can sometimes forget that our customers are not experts in what we do! It’s our job to educate them about our brand, our services and products, and why they’re helpful – and to keep their attention long enough for them to be emotionally inclined towards taking action.
Websites are a fantastic way to communicate with potential buyers, but just like a dedicated salesperson, they can only perform as well as you’ve prepared them! That’s why it’s crucial to make sure your 24/7 representative (your website) is well-equipped to handle the most common questions and to take enquiries and orders.
Without further ado, here is a quick guide to the must-have information to include on your website:
1. Function: What does your service/product actually do? Who is it for?
When we’re intimately familiar with what we can do for our clients, we often forget that they aren’t “in the know” just yet.
A sense of mystery is something we enjoy when we knowingly sign up to it for entertainment purposes, but day-to-day it causes frustration and impatience. If you can’t summarise what you do (or what your product does) in one clear sentence, you will struggle to connect even with people who have an acute need for what you’re offering.
Once you’ve beaten out the mystery for the sake of clarity, your short and snappy summary should live at the very top of your home page and be broken down thereafter with brief, easy-to-digest highlights, such as your most popular services or your flagship products – and their benefits.
As you reveal more information throughout your website, remember to anticipate the questions that would come up in conversation if you were talking directly to your customer.
If there’s a risk of your content getting too “wordy”, then consider a collapsible FAQ area on the page to help break down concepts that might need further explanation. Where appropriate, present summaries or specifications using tables and charts to help your prospects scan and compare without getting overwhelmed.
2. Benefits: How your offer helps your customers
As you inform your potential customer, you also need to get them feeling emotionally invested. Spurring an emotional response becomes much easier if you have clear customer personas in mind, enabling you to address their specific pain points and demonstrate the value of your solutions.
You’ll want to avoid going for the hard sell (no one like’s the used-car-salesman vibe). Still, you should use powerful language to direct readers towards a positive emotion (relief, excitement, motivation, confidence etc.) that would result from them choosing to do business with you.
The imagery you use is just as crucial as your wording, but there should be a clear connection between them to demonstrate and inspire (not confuse!). Use professional photography wherever possible and use stock images only for decoration – as long as they’re in keeping with the overall tone of your website.
3. Proof: Build trust with testimonials & case studies
Customers now teetering on the edge of being convinced may need encouragement from their peers in the form of social proof. This might not be easy if you’re a startup, but having a few positive testimonials will always help, so collecting them should be a priority.
As part of your offboarding or follow-up process after a sale, you should request a review or testimonial on your chosen platform – ideally a third-party, such as Google, Trustpilot, LinkedIn, or your Facebook page, for added credibility.
You can absolutely copy and paste (or better still, embed directly) these reviews onto your website, but having public and authentic reviews on search engines or social media will also help direct people to your website in the first instance, so don’t just collect them in private via email (unless it’s a detailed feedback form with improvement suggestions).
4. Background: Who are you, really? What do you stand for?
Surprisingly, the dreaded “About” page is one of the most critical pages on your website. This is where you can build some familiarity with your customers if you haven’t done so already.
Who you are, why you do what you do, what you stand for – all of this helps people relate to your brand on a personal level. This isn’t the place to sell your product – it’s the place to let website visitors get to know who’s behind it and why it matters.
This page should include photos and details of key team members (or just you if you’re flying solo!) and highlight their strengths, passions, and achievements.
Yes, it can feel a bit cringy at first, and I’ve never met anyone who absolutely loved to write their own bio, but the old adage still rings true: “people buy from people“, – so make your people (or just yourself) feel familiar to your customers.
5. Pricing: How much of an investment is needed?
Where you decide to put this information may vary – some businesses only reveal the price for their services after consultation or on request, while others are very public about their pricing, and there are solid arguments for both:
For shippable or downloadable products and subscriptions, pricing should be easy to find and listed alongside the features and benefits to give context. For packaged services, you can usually be quite public about your pricing, which can have the added benefit of qualifying your leads. However, you should focus on perfecting the content on your conversion pages, so potential customers feel assured that your prices are justified.
For bespoke solutions or high-ticket services, however, you might only want to reveal your price once you’ve had a chance to fully detail the benefits of your service through a consultation or presentation. In this case, you may still want to pre-qualify your leads to decide if they’re a good fit.
In a service-based business, you may want to experiment with this to find out what works best for you, but keep in mind that customers will want to know if they can afford what you’re offering, especially if they aren’t sure what they should be budgeting.
6. Expectations: What’s the process, and how long will it take?
Note: While writing this, I swapped this section around with the next – because expectations should be set before you ask them to take action! This is true for everything from lead magnets to consultations to shippable products. The more informed your customer is, the more confident they’ll feel doing business with you.
Whatever action you’re about to ask them to take, you’ll want to set their expectations. Will they get instant access to something? Can they choose a booking slot for later this week? Will they hear from you within 24 hours or up to 3 working days? How long does the product take to ship, and can they expedite this for an additional fee? Is there a lead time involved?
For example, if something is made-to-order and will take three weeks before it’s ready to ship, say so! The last thing you want is someone calling you in two weeks because they’ve paid for faster shipping at checkout and haven’t been informed about the length of the production process.
Setting expectations (and exceeding them wherever possible) helps to set the tone for your new relationship with your customer and sets the standard for your service. Everyone loves instant gratification (especially when they’ve just parted with some money), but you must make sure you can deliver it, too.
7. CTA: What action should be taken next?
People usually like to spend some time pondering their purchases, and the higher your price point, the longer they’re likely to debate whether to commit. However, what you don’t want them to get stuck on is finding their next step. Do they fill out a form? Add to cart? Pick up the phone? The easier you make the process, the less resistance they’ll feel.
Adding items to a cart or signing up for a subscription and checking out should be incredibly intuitive, so ensure these buttons are easy to find and distinguished from the rest of the page. Only request the details from them that you need to make the sale – no one likes to fill in their details twice because they’ve not been given an option to “use shipping address as billing address” when they’re checking out!
If your customers need to book a consultation – automate it! Using a service like Calendly, you can set your availability and allow prospects to book at a time convenient for you both.
Suppose you need a few details (such as measurements, quantities, location, etc.). In that case, you could add a form to your website to collect that information (maybe even calculate their quote automatically and email it to them) and email those details to you so you can respond or follow up.
Social media is excellent for connecting with customers, but keep in mind that they might not have an account on a particular platform and probably won’t create one for the sake of contacting you. It’s okay as an option, but make sure it’s not their only option, especially if they’re coming from your website.
Finally, the good ol’ contact form isn’t quite dead yet, and although it’s not the most exciting way to take enquiries, it’s still a good option if you (or your customers) are feeling a bit phone-shy and prefer a written form of interaction.
Your website’s main purpose is to help your customers familiarise themselves with you, your brand, and what you’re offering, so make sure it has everything it needs to do so.
Regularly reviewing your website’s content and user experience is vital for it to perform well. User testing is invaluable to help find and fix issues that you might not otherwise notice yourself.