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Marketing Mastery: Five deadly website mistakes to avoid

January 16/23, 2017: Volume 31, Number 16

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 3.50.37 PM“What do you think of my website,” a dealer named Bob recently asked me. I pulled up his site and saw some common mistakes that were costing him thousands of dollars. Following are the biggest mistakes and how they can be corrected.

Failure to differentiate. Bob’s site had the name of his business at the top, menu options of products and contact information. I call these “name, rank and serial number” sites. Most sites follow this formula and therein lies the problem. If everyone’s doing it, where’s the differentiation? By fixing the mistakes outlined here you’ll automatically differentiate your site.

Failure to pass the “five-second” test. His website was too cluttered and confusing. Here’s how to tell if your website is guilty of the same offense: Pull up your website on your laptop and show your home page to a total stranger. After five seconds, close the laptop. She should be able to tell you three things: the product you sell, how that product will make her life better and how to take action now.

If a total stranger can’t answer these after looking at your website for five seconds, it’s too confusing. Here’s an example of how to structure your home page so it passes the five-second test:

Above the fold in big letters say, “We help homeowners get the flooring of their dreams without the hassle.” This answers the first two questions. Next, have a big button in the upper right hand corner with your call to action. It could say, “Call us now,” or “Schedule an appointment” or “Get your free consumer’s guide to flooring.” The button should be in a contrasting color so it jumps out at the prospect. Tests have shown the upper right quadrant draws the most attention.

By organizing your site so it passes the five-second test, you’ll increase the likelihood she’ll explore the rest of your site and take action.

Failure to use social proof. This includes testimonials and photos of your work—Bob had neither. Always remember what others say about you is 100-times more effective than what you say about yourself.

Matt Capell, a dealer from Idaho, has more than 100 five-star reviews in places like Google, Yelp, etc. This by itself is phenomenal, but he takes it further. He publishes all the reviews on his website and uses them in all his other marketing.

Failure to capture contact info. Bob’s site received several hundred visitors a month, but the vast majority left the site, never to interact with his business again. If you want to maximize your site’s effectiveness it’s critical you have a lead-capture mechanism. An effective way to do this is to offer something the visitor wants in exchange for their contact info. For example, “Shopping for flooring? Click here to download five critical questions to ask a dealer before purchasing.”

Failure to have an automated follow-up system. Once you capture their information, you can do follow-up marketing. An effective follow up campaign I developed for dealers includes emails every other day for 30 days. When someone opts in they are automatically subscribed to this campaign. Some might ask, “Jim, isn’t that too much communication?” Not if you provide valuable information. The emails should be educational by teaching the consumer how to find the best flooring dealers, mistakes to avoid, for example.

Correct these mistakes and your website will be far more profitable and create total differentiation from competitors.