Developing an effective business website doesn’t start with design or with the copy. An effective business website results from a thorough understanding of your ideal prospect.
An effective business website starts outside of the website. It starts by describing the best prospects in four ways:
- What they look like demographically,
- What are their attitudes toward the category,
- What’s the pain they are trying to resolve, and
- What will be gained from working with the business?
This is often described as a customer avatar.
It’s also very important to understand their journey; you want to understand the path they take in their mind before they get to your business website and the journey they take on your website.
Once these things are settled, it’s time to start working on the website’s copy and design.
Let’s look at the steps to an effective business website.
Implementation Steps to Deliver an Effective Business Website
In this section, we’ll dig into the three implementation steps that will result in an effective business website.
We recognize that it’s satisfying to see images and copy on a page, but if your goal is to have a website that will generate value for your customers and your business, then this starts with strategy. It starts with a deep and complete understanding of your best prospects, what they are looking for and how you solve their problems. An effective website supports your best customer’s journey in a way that builds trust versus focusing on getting the sale at all costs. As we’ve written before, “90% of loyalty problems can be traced to a flawed sales process.“
Build Customer Avatars for Each Target Audience Segment.
A customer avatar is a useful planning tool for many things. It can be used to develop and refine products and services. It’s used to set the content messaging strategy. Basically, when the content is created to serve the avatar, it will create value for the audience because it’s focused on topics that matter to them.
Consider our blog and this blog post. Inn8ly’s best prospect is a six-figure business owner using or wanting to use digital marketing to drive growth. We write about digital marketing and tie our content back to the importance of an effective business website. Our content matters to our best prospects.
One other point here. The effort should be focused on your best customers. In virtually every category, a minority of customers in the category generate the majority of category sales. These customers are very knowledgeable. They have a significant need for what the category offers. They also understand your offer and your competitors’ offers. Keep this in mind when you are developing the customer avatars. It’s a common mistake to target the average customer when the opportunity is with ‘best customers.’
One customer avatar should be created for the broad target audience. If you can effectively target with one, then that’s all you need. But if, as is true in most situations, there are subsegments with unique needs, then you will need more than one but don’t get crazy; there should be no more than three avatars.
As I briefly described, a best customer avatar has four quadrants: demographics, attitudes, pain, and gain.
This is where you describe your best customers’ physical characteristics. How old are they? What’s their gender? Their average household income? Anything that helps describe what your best customer looks like. This is useful when selecting media channels. Older folks aren’t using Tik Tok. It helps with website design. High contrast is very important if your best prospect is older.
How do they think about things? Are they conservative? Are they open to new ideas? Are they practical? Understanding their attitudes lets you craft content that engages them, reinforces their ideas, and informs their journey. Note the words I used, “reinforces their ideas” and “informs their journey.” Best customers already know what your product or service offers. Recognize and build on this. Don’t spend precious time (attention) telling them what they already know. Understanding and supporting their existing attitudes makes all your content more effective. This is especially true on the website. An effective business website isn’t the start of their journey. It’s a mid-point in their journey. Your website should be a fulcrum that reinforces and supports their journey.
This is where you define their problems. What is the problem that your best prospect is trying to solve? This is vital. And it’s the most common mistake we see on websites. Inside-out copy that talks about the business is a missed opportunity. Outside-in copy that recognizes and empathizes with your best prospect’s problem is more effective. By understanding and listing your best customer’s problem, you can craft advertising and website copy that demonstrates that you understand their challenges. This results in engagement. If you don’t have engagement, your marketing is just more noise in the background. Engagement starts with solutions to real problems. Write them down.
Now that you understand your best prospect, their demographics and attitudes, and the problems they are trying to solve, you can list your solutions. You can describe how you will solve their problems. You can describe what your best prospects will gain from your products or services. Be sure that what you place in this quadrant tracks back through the other three sections. Having this balance makes the customer avatar the effective and powerful tool it is.
Describe Their Journey
Having a well-crafted customer avatar is very valuable, but there’s another equally important step. Mapping the customer journey lets you decribe your customer’s thought process in a way that’s used to make decisions about content channels, messaging, and offers.
The goal is to encourage and draw your best prospects along their journey in a way that supports the decisions they need to make. This is done by offering valuable micro-transactions of increasing value. This can’t be done if you don’t understand the journey.
An especially effective way to do this is the quiz funnel. A fun quiz is used as a top-of-the-funnel lead magnet. A quiz will attract and engage prospects as their interest in the category is piqued. It also tells you about the prospect. The quiz is a microtransaction. They give you their email address in order to see the results of the entertaining and informative quiz. Email marketing and Social Media marketing, organic and paid, can be used to nurture the relationship and draw them along their journey. Using a botton-of-the-funnel assessment survey to draw qualified prospects into the sale effectively closes the funnel. This is especially true for high-value sales.
With a customer journey map, your marketing creates value. Get the right message to the right person at the right time.
Implement on the Website
Now we’re into the fun part. With a solid strategic plan, you will be able to craft an effective business website, a website that will create value for you and for your customers.
In another post, Six Ways to Convince Website Visitors to Stay, in Six Seconds or Less, we describe the six areas that need to be considered for every page on the website but especially for the home page. The third way is to give them a benefit-oriented reason to stay, and the fourth is to make their path clear. Both these areas will be heavily influenced by the strategic work that’s been completed.
Give Them a Benefit-Oriented Reason to Stay
When someone arrives on the website, the journey starts with engagement. When a visitor recognizes that you understand their problem they will pay attention. It can also be effective in agitating the problem. Describe what might happen if the problem isn’t solved. This isn’t essential, but when it’s used effectively, it further engages the visitor. Then you can offer a solution and/or pathways for subsegments within your target audience. The acronym for this formula is PAS; make the Problem clear, Agitate the problem, and then Solve the problem.
People buy benefits, they buy solutions to their problems. Don’t hammer away at your brand, they got there because they know your brand. Don’t talk about all your services. You’re asking them to think, to fit what you do into their world. They won’t do this.
Make Their Path Clear
In the avatar section above, we described creating avatars for each of the subsegments within your target audience. This is where this becomes useful. Use the subsegment avatars to craft people-like-you doorways for each of your key subsegments. Make their path clear so they click through to a page that’s been carefully crafted to address their unique needs. When they do this, they are telling you two things. They are giving you permission to give them more information and telling you exactly who they are.
These pathways should be immediately below the hero/intro section. Each path’s is-this-you headline should be visible without needing to scroll. Image can be used to visually emphasize what makes each path distinct. A sentence or two of enticing copy helps. Communicates the benefits they will receive by clicking through to the next page. Use a CTA button to further make it clear that they need to take action.
What Else do You Need?
There are a number of other things you can consider depending on your situation and the needs of your prime prospects.
Reasons to believe are the rational reasons why you can deliver the proposed solution. Showing the logos of the businesses you work with is effective, especially if they are major brands. Five-star ratings and targeted testimonials will effectively support the validity of your claims. Think about obstacles that might be in your prospect’s minds. Overcome them. Show recent blog posts if they are, in fact, recent, and they support your authority, i.e., they support your solution.
Don’t shove stuff onto the page just because you can. Each and every element should be carefully considered and assessed as to its ability to support the prospect’s journey. If it’s not a great fit. Don’t use it.
An Effective Business Website Supports Your Customers and Your Business
Start by understanding your best customers and, by proxy, your best prospects. Who they are, how they think, their problem, and their gain from working with your business. Don’t talk about yourself; talk about them and their problems. There will be opportunities to discuss yourself as reasons to believe your solution is valid. A customer avatar or up to three avatars if you have subsegments is a useful way to capture what’s imp[ortant to your best prospects.
Map your customer’s journey. What triggers their interest? What are the questions they will ask? Use this knowledge to create a marketing funnel to nurture and supports your prospects. Use your understanding of their journey to design and structure the content on your website. Be focused. You have six seconds or less to engage website visitors and draw them to a sale.
Since 2010, James Hipkin has built his clients’ businesses with digital marketing. Today, James is passionate about websites and helping the rest of us understand online marketing. His customers value his jargon-free, common-sense approach. “James explains the ins and outs of digital marketing in ways that make sense.”
Use this link to book a meeting time with James.