A common question people have when considering whether to hire a designer to create their website is, “What if it doesn’t work?” Essentially, what they’re asking is, “What if I pay you to develop my site, and I don’t get any clients from it?”
I totally get this question. Nobody wants to invest a bunch of time and money into having a website designed and built only to find that it doesn’t bring in any clients.
So, what if it DOESN’T work? Well, the truth is that websites don’t just magically start bringing clients in.
The bad news is that It takes more than simply creating a great website to bring customers in the door. The good news is that there are a lot of strategies that are relatively easy to implement to optimize your website at the start and on an ongoing basis.
The reality is that if you’re trying to take your business to the next level, you need to start with a great-looking and functional website. You should carefully select a partner to design that site who’s aware of best practices and can do what she needs to start you off on the right foot. You, in turn, need to put the time in up front to plan your site and develop your content so it helps to convert prospects into buyers.
And then you need to follow through with strategies that will contine to drive traffic to your site, educate your audience and build relationships with your ideal clients.
How much of this you have to do depends a lot on what you’re selling. Lower priced resources, products, and classes require less work because the investment is less scary for people. Higher-priced items like long-term coaching or a more expensive course will require more, because, as I’m sure you’ve heard, you have to maximize the “know-like-trust” factor, and that takes time and effort.
Fortunately, you can do a lot of what you need to do on your own, or, if you’re at that point in your business, you can hire people to help out.
So, what are some of those things you’ll need to do after your new website has launched?
DRIVE TRAFFIC TO YOUR SITE
Unfortunately, the old adage “build it and they will come” doesn’t hold for websites. The internet is too big with too many websites competing for eyeballs.
With that said, there are lots of strategies to drive traffic to your site, and none of them require adanced degrees.
Traffic Strategy #1 – SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
You probably know by now that SEO is what you do to get search engines like Google to find you. It’s what makes your site come up in the results when someone searches for something relevant to your industry.
I’ve mentioned a couple of times in other posts that Squarespace does some of the up-front work of telling search engines that you exist and helping them to categorize your site. The site-map that Squarespace sets up automatically when you start your site is one of the ways they do this.
And then there's your content. Your text is one of the main ways search engines categorize and rank your site. It's why you need a lot of relevant, high-quality copy on your site. It's why you need to spend time up front writing copy that potential clients will want to read. Do that, and you'll be off to a good start.
And then there are the ongoing SEO tasks like:
- including images and videos to engage readers,
- making sure image & video alt tags and file names have keywords in them,
- using keywords in your headlines and throughout your copy,
- using clear, relevant and exciting headlines in blog posts, and
- linking to other pages on your site, to other blog posts you’ve written and to 1 or 2 authority sites that relate to your topic.
Traffic Strategy #2 – Blogging
Blogging is not always easy, but it’s pure gold for SEO. And you don’t have to do it constantly to see results. What you do have to do is write about the services you’re trying to be found for. Not only does this help your SEO, but it also helps to build trust with your audience.
You’ll also want to publicize your posts on Pinterest, on social media, and on sites like BlogLovin’.
There are a whole slew of strategies for promoting your blog posts. This article from HubSpot goes over general blogging strategies as well as how to get people seeing your posts.
Traffic Strategy #3 – Social Media
I’m not going to go into detail on social media strategy here, but suffice it to say that it’s one of the best ways to generate traffic to your site and build awareness of you and your brand. A strong social media strategy will include links from your social media profiles to your website, social media share buttons in your content, and a system for sharing content to your social media platforms.
One major piece of advice I have here is to pick two platforms that work for you and focus on them to start. And when I say focus on them, I mean spend time on them every day, both posting and interacting with other users. Be yourself and be genuine, and don't take shortcuts like using chatbots or autoreplies.
Traffic Strategy #4 – Link-building
Linkbuildilng is basically having other websites link back to your site. It’s one of the more difficult strategies, and I'm in no way shape or form an expert in this area. Apparently, though, it can reap huge rewards if done well. Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to Link Building is a fantastic resource you might want to check out if you're interested in learning more about this strategy.
CONVERTING TRAFFIC INTO CLIENTS
First and foremost, you should know that it takes an average of seven contacts with a prospect before they’ll buy. So the way to convert site visitors into prospects and prospects into customers (and first-time customers into repeat customers) is by building relationships over time.
I’m no magician, and I can’t promise you that your site will automatically convert visitors into buyers. But, I can tell you that together we can do everything we can to build the “know-like-trust” factor as your site is coming together.
Strategies to Convert Prospects into Clients
Build trust by
- including professional-looking, high-quality photos of yourself,
- providing proof of past results with testimonials,
- feature professional, engaging design - people do judge books by covers (otherwise, why all the cool book cover designs?), just as they judge businesses by websites.
Entice visitors to take action with
- calls-to-action that are clear and visible,
- offers of highly-useful resources for free in exchange for e-mail address,
- an email marketing campaign that thanks subscribers for signing up and re-engages through a funnel that combines promotional and informational content.
Overall website optimization
- Put the call-to-action for your primary goal in a prominent spot, so it’s the first thing people notice when they come to your site.
- Optimize images so your homepage loads within 3 seconds.
- Make it immediately obvious what your site is about.
- Keep your design clean and simple (but not so basic that it’s boring).
- Don’t include any extra links or CTA’s that will confuse or distract your audience from taking your primary desired action.
- Be thoughtful about where you place social media share and follow buttons, so you don’t leak visitors unnecessarily.
- Fix broken links.
- Capture your readers’ attentions with engaging content.
- Update both visuals and copy frequently.
Analyze your site's performance
Once your site is up and running, it’s important to analyze how it’s doing with bringing prospects in, keeping them on your site, and converting them to buyers.
There are a lot of tools you can use to figure out what’s working and not working on your site.
- Squarespace provides it’s own analytics that will tell you how many site visits you’re getting, where visitors are coming from, and what your most popular content is.
- Google Analytics provides insight into how users find and use your website. It allows you to dig deeper into your metrics and requires some time to figure out. Nate Shivar has a good article about what Google Analytics can do for you. Marketlytics has another one that is ver helpful.
- You can also use Heat Maps to see exactly how users are moving through your site and where you’re losing them. Some good options to check out are Crazy Egg, Hotjar, and Lucky Orange. There are many more, as well.
- There's also Content Analytics from Sumo to see if your content is being read.
Analytics is a massive topic that's worth learning more about, and I will confess that I’m not an expert. Kissmetrics, on the other hand, is an expert in that area and has some great articles about what metrics to track and how to use the information you get.