The First Impression: Your Website is Where It Happens
Fifteen years ago, the business landscape was a lot different, and so was your sales process. New prospects found you in the yellow pages and called to set up an appointment. You and your team went – clean shaven, suit and tie, fresh cologne. Why all the trouble? First impressions! Prospects size you and your business up in moments. Overcoming a negative first impression is difficult and sometimes impossible. Making a great first impression, however, can be priceless.
Things haven’t changed much. The first impression can still solidify a prospect or send them running. The one thing that has changed: the meeting place. With more than 70% of people in the United Sates using the internet, folks aren’t calling and setting up appointments anymore. They’re going online and they are meeting you – for the first time – at your website.
The same principles from fifteen years ago (and much longer before that) apply to your website. Back in the day it was the suit and tie. Today, it’s your website. How’s your website dressed right now? What do people say about your website when they see it for the first time? How do your employees feel about the website that represents them? If your website isn’t making a great first impression, your competition’s website is only a few clicks away. So, here’s a few ways to find out if your website is making a good impression and some ideas on how to fix it should it be less than ravishing.
1. Find out from prospects where they heard about you
This can be valuable information, regardless of your online efforts. Knowing how prospects are finding you can help you better spend your marketing dollars. Before your sales team ends a conversation, ask the prospect how they found you. And don’t miss this chance to get direct feedback about your website. Listen and write if a prospect makes suggestions! If you start to hear more negative comments than positive ones, your website probably isn’t cutting the muster. Take the feedback and act!
2. Ask your trusted customers and business partners for ideas
No one has better information about why they work with you than your current clients and business partners. Sure everyone’s a critic, but if they have something to say, listen! Send them a survey about your website and a Starbucks gift card if they complete the survey. People love to give their opinion and they love it more when their opinion causes action. It will make them feel special and useful and it will help you improve your business.
3. Ask your employees how they feel about the web site that represents them
After all, they surf the web more than they work anyway. Ask them how your website matches up to those they use all the time (doing their best to keep apples with apples). Ask them if they’re embarrassed to tell folks about your site and how they feel about how it represents them. Make sure they don’t feel threatened if they’re honest, too. You’re employees are a great resource for information about how prospects and clients react to your website.
4. Get in touch with a web design and SEO consultant for help
I can think of a good one right now… but really, call a pro. Professional web designers use the latest design techniques and tools to forge your image on the web. A great designer will be up on the latest trends in web design and visual communication, thus creating a site that will draw prospects in (once they find you), giving you the chance you need and deserve to close the sale. That raises the question: how will they find you? There’s a myriad of sources on the web, including your competition seeking the same clients. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to getting found on the web. A professional SEO has the technical knowledge and experience with the ever changing methods required to get your site found and can create a plan to keep you in the limelight. All of this may mean some investment, but that opportunity for a first impression is well more than worth it in the long run.
5. If You’re Going to Throw Money
I want to make this clear: perform due diligence before doing anything that requires any kind of investment. Don’t throw money… make sure that the dollars you spend are going to return to you in solid first impressions and converted sales. If you’re thinking about calling website design professionals, call their clients and ask them if they’ve been happy with the service and quality. The internet is an amazing tool… use it to look at their site and their work and see if it impresses you! Call a colleague or friend who has a nice website and ask them who they use and why.
We’re not suggesting you go buy a Prada suit for your next meeting. We’re saying don’t wear the suit from the 90’s that’s been worn a few times just to save a buck! You’ll regret it. People are searching for other people to do business with and they are using the web to find them. So, ask yourself: can they find you? Once they found you, can they find the information they need on your website? What lasting first impression are they leaving with?
Not so sure about the first impression you’re making? We can help you. We’re sure we can make tailor a site for you that will turn heads. If you want to see some of work, take a look at our design, production and marketing showcase.
Quick Statistics for Local Business Search
Search engines were rated the number one resource for finding local business information. Here’s how a survey’s responses broke down in terms of professed usage:
- Search engines: 74%
- Print yellow pages: 65%
- Internet yellow pages: 50%
- Traditional newspapers: 44%
- Print white pages: 33%
- Television: 29%
- Consumer review websites: 18%
Source: Search Engine Land
(Percentages are greater than 100 because respondents were permitted to select more than one answer.)