Content - The Crucial Component of Successful Websites
by Deb Goeschel, Owner & Creative Director, Message Artist
As business owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders we know that having a website is an important part of your marketing. Robyn talked about this recently in her Top 5 Reasons Your Business Needs a Website blog post. In this post, I’m addressing the content must-haves for every website.
We are operating in a world in which Google reports that there are a staggering 1.5 BILLION websites worldwide. Of course, we’re not actually competing with all of those sites … but we ARE competing with a large number of them. None of us are doing anything truly one-of-a-kind. We all know who else is selling a product or service that is similar in flavor to ours. This is why it’s so important to have your brand messaging down — it helps you stand out and differentiates you from anyone else doing similar.
Your website is your biggest asset when it comes to helping you stand out.
What Your Website Must Do
Your website has many jobs. When written and structured correctly, it can easily execute each of these jobs well. Start by asking yourself, does my website …
- Engage and compel customers to action?
- Offer valuable information?
- Offer me as a solution to the customers’ problem?
- Clearly describe how customers can buy my product or service?
- Provide multiple ways to interact and keep in touch?
- Broadcast my UVP (unique value proposition) and help me stand out from my competition?
- Provide a compelling way for people to sign up for my email list?
If there isn’t a resounding “YES!” after each of those bullet points, there’s at least one or two things on your website that require your attention.
Content for Your Non-Negotiable Pages
Let’s take a look at how the content on these non-negotiable (as in, every site needs them as a starting point) pages need to work.
Home page: This page is your first impression; it’s the store front window which allows a peek deeper into the store and what may be waiting for your visitors. You want to make sure it’s clean, clear, and immediately begins to answer the “what’s in it for me?” question that is the back of every potential customer’s mind.
This is also where you need clear, guiding calls to action (CTA) which will help guide them where you want them to go next. (I’ll take about CTAs further in the blog post.)
About page: Make sure your mission/vision is clearly represented in your language, if not actually on the page. The purpose of your business needs to be clearly conveyed in copy. If your mission/vision doesn’t inspire you, it won’t inspire your copy, so make sure it’s authentic to your business.
The About page is where you can lay out for visitors what you do, and if appropriate, how you got to this place. It all leads back to how you can portray yourself and your company in a way that allows the visitor to connect with you and how you can make your customer’s life better because you can solve their problem.
Products/Services/Work with Me: Depending on your business model and offering, it may make sense to have two — or more — pages in this section.
- Product pages are required for each product to provide all the details your customer needs and wants in order to make a purchase decision. If you have multiple products, you can organize them via category to make it easier for your customer.
- A Services page will outline any and all actual services you offer, such as Programs, Workshops, or Group work. If you’re a service-based business, you may also have products such as books, online classes, etc.
- A Work with Me page can help manage expectations by conveying your process and what it looks like to work with you. This is more important for the service-based businesses. This can be the page that begins to establish trust — especially if you deliver as promised. It explains the overall way you work and the benefits of working with you.
Testimonial / Review page: People LOVE hearing what other people have to say about you and how you do business. If you sell products, make sure there’s a way for folks to review the product and your service around selling it. Google reviews, or even yelp reviews (with links to them) are great.
If you offer a service, ask your happy clients for testimonials OR have them go onto your FB business page and/or LinkedIn (depending on where your customers tend to be) to write their testimonials.
Ideally, you have the testimonial or review ON the page for the product or service to which the testimonial refers.
Contact page: This seems obvious, but please make sure your contact information is current and accurate. I’ve seen too many sites in which this isn’t the case. Beyond your contact info, there’s a chance to be specific and guide folks to how you want to communicate.
- Do you like receiving texts? Do you want emails? Do you prefer phone calls? Indicate how you want to be reached by saying, “the most efficient way to reach me is …” makes it sound like you’re going out of your way to be available.
- As for email, always use a form and don’t put your email ON the webpage – makes you a phishing/spam target.
- If you have specific store or business hours, list them. This is a simple way of managing expectations when we live in a 24/7 world. YOU don’t have to be available 24/7! If you aren’t a business with 24/7 customer service, it’s a good idea to provide a timeframe for when they can expect to hear back from you. Within two hours? Four? A business day? Etc.
Additional Pages: Other pages could include things like: Calendar, Events, Workshops, Resources, detailed subpages, etc. These pages and their content are dependent on your individual businesses’ needs.
Calls to Action: A Crucial Content Component
Bottom line, there needs to be some type of call to action on every single page of your website. They don’t need to be complicated or the BIG offer … but you do need them as they will help your visitor navigate along the path you lay out for them.
It’s important that your communication leads your visitor where you want them to go and to the information you want them to have.
How? Think about your website just like a store.
Your home page is the big storefront window that catches their eye and draws them into the store. And we all know that any retail store puts a lot of strategic thinking into where to put what on the shopping floor. They think about creating a flow … a path from one thing to the next. It’s not a coincidence when you find the perfect throw pillow to go with that comfy chair.
Your website is the same. Your content becomes the road map. You can plan what your visitors see and learn first and guide them to your big CTA.
Examples of CTAs:
- Navigate to another page.
- Sign up for your email list.
- Contact you.
- Register for an event.
- Read product reviews or testimonials.
- Purchase your product, program, or service.
- Anything you need or want your website visitor to do
It Helps to Get Help
It’s a really good idea to outsource content creation and the design and build of your website. You started a business to offer a specific service or product(s) and it’s highly likely that writing marketing copy or designing a website isn’t your strong suit, otherwise, you’d have started a copywriting or web design business!
That said, I always tell prospective clients, do what you have to do to get started. It’s better to start imperfectly than not start at all. Once you have some cash flow, then you can find the right resources to help you create the website that will work hard for you and deliver what you need it to deliver.
Owner & Creative Director
With an extensive and varied creative background – writing, editing, acting, photography, yoga, and graphic and web design – Deb brings a unique, intuitive, and laser-focused perspective, along with 20 years of experience, to content strategy, creation, management, and direction. She currently runs her own marketing communications business, Message Artist, serving entrepreneurs, small- and mid-sized businesses, non-profits, and women-led ventures to provide positive-impact and action-compelling print and digital content.
Deb received her Bachelor of Art in English Literature with a Minor in Fine Art Photography from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Science in Journalism with a concentration in Multi-Media Production & Design from Boston University’s College of Communication.