Focus a Website on Customer Needs


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 The audience for a website should be customers and prospects of a business. With this in mind, think about your website: Is the content oriented to customer and prospect needs and wants or is it about how you perceive your shop to be “the best?” The difference in approach is critical to your success.

While recently looking at several shop websites, I found them too focused on the shop itself and how wonderful they think they are. The content was not focused on the customers and what’s in it for them to do business with these companies.

It’s a fact that today’s customers use the Web as their primary information gathering tool. Directories are so “last century.” This means customers can quickly compare your company with the competition on the Web. They are going to make decisions about whether or not they want to consider you as their vendor based on what they see on your website. Make sure the site makes you look at least as good as you want them to believe you are.

When a prospective customer comes to a home page, the site has 30 seconds or less to catch a visitor’s attention. Pictures of equipment and awards on the home page are not what most visitors are looking for. They want to know what they will get from you that they can’t get from another shop. Then you can prove it with additional pages that highlight your capabilities.

If you brag and show your machines and products first, you’re assuming a visitor can and will translate that into a value for a prospective customer. Some will, and some may even get it right. But most won’t bother because it is too much effort. Too many shops focus on the equipment and not on the outcome it produces for the customer. The best companies in any industry are the ones that are customer-centric. They focus on the customer and view their business from the customer’s perspective. That clearly has to include your website.

You may argue that your customers are sophisticated enough to translate your capabilities into a value for them, and you don’t want to speak down to them. You may be right, but, in my experience, that belief costs you in two ways. First, those prospective customers who can’t or won’t do the translation are lost before you ever get a chance to help them. Second, even if you are right, speaking in terms of the value to be received by the customer never hurts, as long as you can deliver that value.

One of my clients asked me about the value of talking about their No. 1 position in their market segment. He felt that being No. 1 would cause customers to want to do business with him and that it means he is the best. Maybe that’s true, but what about, “We’re No. 2, so we try harder”? Some people may translate his No. 1 position into a value for them and indeed want to do business with No. 1. However, it’s not a good idea to lead with that or limit yourself to that on your home page. The customer cares what he/she will get from doing business with you, which is what matters most. I recommend mentioning later on about your No. 1 position, which indicates others agree the company is good. But first, tell me what’s in it for me, and then tell me why I should believe that is true.

Here’s a simple homework assignment for your website’s home page: Print it out. Take a yellow highlighter and a pink highlighter. Highlight in pink all the “I,” “we” and “us” statements on your home page. Then highlight in yellow all the “you” statements on the home page. Is the page mostly yellow or mostly pink? If the latter, it needs a rewrite.

Once it passes the color test, reread it for 15-30 seconds. How far did you get? Is it compelling? Would a new prospective customer want to read more or would they have bounced already?

Speaking of bouncing, assuming you’ve tagged your site with Google Analytics, what is your current bounce rate? Bounces are people who land on your home page and leave in 30 seconds or less. Then, after you make the changes I am recommending, re-measure your bounce rate over at least a 30-day period (maybe as much as 90 days if your site does not get a lot of traffic). Did it improve? I’d love to hear from you after you measure the results.