It used to be that all you needed to do to get noticed online is put up a basic website and then forget about it until it’s time for a redesign. Sadly, those days are over if you need your website to help you book clients.
A resumé site is the most basic form of website — with my clients I refer to it as a “vetting” website. It has your list of services, maybe a portfolio, and an about page that talks about where you went to college and how many years you’ve been in business. It’s where you send people to learn more about you when they’re considering hiring you so they can make sure you’re legit before signing the deal.
Listen, that’s fine… if you’re already booked up and have plenty of people lined up to work with you. Or, if you’re out there in the world meeting (and selling to) people and you just need someplace to send people for more information.
But if you’re trying to attract clients online, your website needs to work much harder. If you’re still using your website like a resumé and waiting by the phone for customers to call, you’re going to be waiting for a very long time.
If you’re sending cold traffic (they don’t know you yet) to your website for the purpose of lead generation, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Nobody cares about your company history
People who don’t know you yet don’t care about you, or where you went to school, or how you got interested in the field you work in. When somebody lands on your website for the first time they want to know:
- The problem you solve.
- For whom.
- Why you’re the best choice among all the options they’re considering.
And this all needs to happen fast, like in 5 seconds. If it takes longer than that for site visitors to figure out what you’re about and whether your service solves their specific problem, they’re going to bounce away and keep looking.
First time site visitors don’t trust you (yet)
Cold traffic — people visiting for the first time — don’t have any clue how great you are or why you’re the best person to give their money to. Making a first impression that establishes instant credibility is crucial. You do that by:
- Making sure your visual design is not misaligned with your brand message
- Writing copy that is user-focused, not company focused
- Giving value (Is your website one big cheesy sales pitch? That might have worked in the past, but these days people are more skeptical and selective about where they give their attention. They’re looking for more authentic voices to trust — and you do that by providing high-quality content that helps your user solve a problem.)
Building awareness and confidence takes time (use smaller asks to get your foot in the door)
Good branding helps site visitors remember you, but you first need a way to reach them a second (and third, and fourth… fifteenth!) time. Your first ask shouldn’t be “hire me” or “buy now”, it should be something much smaller. A way for you to form a connection. This might mean building an email mailing list, encouraging your site visitors to follow you on social media (if you’re very active and have a solid strategy), or ad re-targeting.
We all want our websites to perform miracles for us, but they’re not magical like that. And you probably already know that people rarely (if ever) commit to buying services on impulse — it’s a longer psychological process that includes getting to know and trust you, weighing other options, making sure you’re the best choice, and overcoming all their objections before they’re ready.
How can you use your website to form an on-going conversation with site visitors rather than a one-off peek at your resumé?