How to Make Your Website Stand Out
Have you noticed? It’s getting pretty noisy out there on the World Wide Web. Chances are there are plenty of things that make you special (in a good way), but the question is, are you communicating those points clearly and effectively online?
As a Minnesota-based web development agency we understand that bragging or “tootin’ your own horn” doesn’t come easily to a lot of our local clientele. But separating yourself from the pack and what makes you different is a critical skill to master if you’re interested in having a successful website-- and we’re here to help you on that journey.
Do any of these comments about your website sound familiar?
“Our website doesn’t reflect our company culture or personality.”
“How do we reduce time-wasting inquiries?”
“Why is the bounce rate on our homepage so high?”
When new clients come to us, we often hear comments like these, and many more. They are often (but not always) symptomatic of a website that has failed to communicate differentiation.
Differentiation matters in today's market more than ever in recent history. Per Brian Halligan's keynote at Inbound 16, in the last 10 years, supply has risen in almost all business sectors while demand has remained flat. He pointed out the reality that many businesses now face the challenge of competing for business and attention on the infinite shelf of the internet. Bottom line: competition is stiff; you need a point of differentiation.
What Makes You Different?
Here’s a real-world analogy: Imagine you’re at your high school reunion and an old classmate asks what your company does. You'd probably have a short, general answer like “We design housing subdivisions.” Now imagine, instead, that you happen upon your dream client. When they ask you to tell them about your company, you would get into the specifics. Like... you've been designing local subdivisions since the 1970s. You know the ins and outs of every local player and regulation in the industry. And all the other benefits that come from your special expertise There may be a lot of other companies out there that do the same thing as you, but they don't do it exactly like you. You have something to offer that is unique or exceptional, and this is the message you want your website and online marketing to make explicitly clear.
The goal of a business website should be to give a concise view of your differentiation designed to attract and convert your target audience.
Start with Your Current Customers
Most companies have a solid grasp on the main value they bring to their industry and customers. They usually have a sales pitch that focuses very well on those capabilities. But do you know all the reasons your customers chose you? There is a goldmine of surprisingly invaluable insight that lies within your customers to answer that question. When was the last time you asked them?
From experience, we've learned that companies are often surprised by what drives their customers' buying decisions; why they chose you over your competition, and what they valued most about your products and services. It’s common for companies to assume their competitive pricing is the reason customers choose them, when there is a different value-based reason for the customer's choice. Remember, buyers are evolving and our habits are changing rapidly - that means your customers are, too. If you haven’t surveyed your customers in the last 2 years, start there!
Solve a Problem in Your Industry
Each industry has its pain points and commonly-heard complaints from consumers. In the auto repair industry, people have a strong drive to find a mechanic they can trust. Patients want to find a doctor who takes the time to listen and get to the root cause of their issue.
What are the pain points for customers in your industry?
If your company was founded to address one of your target market's pain points, your differentiation may already be part of your key messaging and selling process. If it wasn’t, there is tremendous value in communicating to your customers that you know and understand their key problems, and what you’re doing to solve them. That means you are relevant (which could be an entire podcast on its own). But, nail how you ease your customer's pain, and you’ll have found a valuable point of differentiation.
Design and layout matter. How you present your message is just as important as what your message says. Buyers take notice of aesthetics. In the eyes of your potential customers, how you present information tells them a lot about how much you care about them.
Furthermore, attention spans are shortening and Internet users have plenty of options to choose from. That places a lot more pressure on your website to make visitors “stick” and convince them that they should stay in a very short amount of time.
Do you know your buyers' favored methods of learning? Is it blogs, infographics, podcasts, eBooks, or video? Does your site reflect those preferences?
Purposeful content and thoughtful design are fundamental keys of website success. When visitors scan a webpage, you need to quickly capture their attention and deliver impactful information in an easy-to-digest format. (We dive more into how to achieve this via optimized content in this post.)
You and your employees may know what your secret sauce is, but is that clear to every person who visits your website? Hopefully this article has made it clear that communicating your differentiation is vital to success. If you've realized you still need to identify and communicate your differentiation, it needs to be moved to the top of your priority list for 2017. A first step could be to survey your customers, and augment your sales pitch with what they tell you they value most. Then you’ll need to consider the best method for sharing that on your website and in your online marketing.
Finally, effective websites also need to make clear what a visitor should do next, which introduces the important topic of calls to action, which we cover in this post on conversion paths.
Want to discuss how you can find and use your differentiation to make your business even more successful? Let's start a conversation.
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