Is Your Website Helping or Hurting You?
By Steve Marsh
In the digital age, an effective website has become the cornerstone of any service company’s marketing structure.
This virtual storefront shapes most consumers’ first impressions of a company. Potential customers will grant a company about 10 seconds to convince them that it can provide what they want. The quality and effectiveness of a website can make or break a company.
In those first precious seconds, customers seek answers to two critical questions: “Can this company meet the need I have?” and “Does it provide the level of service, expertise, and professionalism I want at a price I’m willing to pay?” If these two questions are not clearly answered, the shopper will simply move on to the next of their many options.
This key role of the website is simply too important to treat lightly. It belongs at the top of your list as one of the most important elements of the company’s marketing system. Avoid a do-it-yourself website. This calls for an experienced, professional web designer.
Marketing focal point
All company marketing and advertising should point to the website. The web address needs to be prominently displayed on every printed marketing piece, business card, digital ad, social media profile, and work vehicle.
On their websites, companies can present their most compelling argument to consumers for why they are the best choice. A choreographed presentation of compelling text, branded photographs, graphics, videos, and even audio customer testimonies can make one company shine amidst the competition.
Study the competition
Take advantage of the fact that, through the internet, you can know exactly what your competition is doing to promote their businesses. Study their websites! You will be amazed at the depth of what you can learn: Are your competitors trying to attract budget, mid-priced, or high-end customers? Can you make your website more appealing to your target market than your competition is doing?
You have thousands of website examples from cleaners all across the country. Find the website examples you like best to use as a model for your site. But do not copy their text! Google will penalize you for plagiarizing someone else’s web copy. You can borrow their ideas, but come up with your own words.
Document the web addresses of sites you like and pass them to your webmaster to use as a guide. Unless your webmaster is very familiar with your industry and target market, you may need to provide the arguments yourself of why your company is the best.
Five objectives of an effective website
An effective website will achieve the following five main objectives:
Grab your target market’s attention: Consumers’ needs cover a wide spectrum. Some are willing to pay top dollar in exchange for the most service, experience, and expertise, while others can barely pay for the least expensive job. Know who your target market is and let them know you provide what they want. The text and graphics should all be targeted to the type of consumers you want to attract.
Look professional and be easy to navigate: All consumers want to feel comfortable with the company that comes out to service them. If your website looks professional and is easy to navigate, they will assume that your business operates in a similar manner. Many good companies are losing potential customers due to poorly designed websites.
Clearly state credentials and expertise: Shoppers compare your website to your competitors. Make it easy for them to identify what makes your company different from the others. List certifications, social media ratings, years of experience, and areas of expertise.
Provide consumer-relevant information: Consumers need information. They need contact info, business hours/days, services provided, service territory, and guarantees. This information should be easy and intuitive to find. They also want to know about the owner and the history of the company. The great thing about a website is that there is no space limitation to the information you can provide.
Rank high in organic search results: Besides acting as a storefront for your business, an effective website can become an outstanding source for new customers by ranking high in the results consumers see when searching the internet for a cleaner. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of your website.
Just because you have a well-designed website does not mean that it will automatically show up high in the rankings. There are things that need to be done behind the scenes of a website that search engines, such as Google, can see but consumers can’t. In many cases, the website designer lacks the credentials to do that job.
An SEO specialist is needed to maximize a website’s potential. Be cautious in selecting this professional. I receive numerous solicitations weekly from companies claiming to be able to improve my web ranking. I strongly suggest seeking out a solid referral from a reliable source when you choose this service. Making a poor choice here can result in big problems.
An effective website requires constant updating and improving. The digital world changes fast. A website that looked current a year ago can start to look a bit dated. Websites and SEO need continuous maintenance. Review your website to see that it is performing up to its potential.
- Does it let your target consumers know that you provide a great value for them?
- Is it professional looking and easy to navigate?
- Are your greatest selling points clearly stated?
- Will it easily answer the customers’ questions?
- Are you taking the steps necessary to rank high for search results?
Ongoing investment of time and money is required. This is an investment, though, one which can produce phenomenal financial rewards.
Steve Marsh is a 40-year veteran of the carpet cleaning industry, an instructor, and a Senior Carpet Inspector. He helps home-service companies quickly establish profitable clienteles and then progress to serving higher-quality customers. To help companies achieve these goals, Marsh created the step-by-step programs Single Truck Success and Be Competition Free. For more information, visit www.professional-carpet-cleaning-service.com.