What are you going to do about your website?
If you’re running a printing business, there’s around a 50% chance that you don’t have one. If you do have a website, there’s a very good chance that it needs some improvement. In last week’s article, I wrote about the difficulties printers have with the internet. For many of you, your website is like a monster under the bed. You know it’s there and you’re just a little bit afraid of it. If you ignore it or throw it a scrap of food occasionally, maybe it won’t do too much harm.
Here’s the problem:
The monster is making your company invisible. You’ve probably heard the statistic before and the number varies according to the research cited. Buyer behavior has changed. Here’s the gist of it – at least 60% of the buying decision is made before a company is contacted. Buyers research first online before they contact a salesperson.
Let’s be honest. Even without a website, you’re not completely invisible, just kind of translucent and murky. There’s stuff about you on the web – a Google map or a Facebook comment made by a cranky customer two years ago. You don’t have control of this information, and it’s not going to help a prospective customer make the decision to use your services. Your website allows you to have control and present buyers with information they’re looking for. The reason you must have a functional website is to influence the 60% of the decision that’s being made before you even know about it.
What do you mean by functional?
That’s easy. A functional website works for you and for your customer. We’ve defined the problem, now let’s look at the solution. What should your website do for your potential customers and your business? A recent study released by Huff Industrial Marketing and KoMarketing, entitled 2015 B2B Web Usability Report, looks at websites from the buyer’s point of view. It provides some great insight into the information that your website should provide.
The home page of your website should provide a quick and clear indication of information that’s available to visitors. The research asked buyers what kinds of information indicators they expected to find on a company home page. Let’s discuss the top 3 categories:
- Product Information – 86% are looking for information on products and services. It’s important to make a distinction between real product information and marketing collateral, which was desired by only 23% of the respondents.
- Contact Information – An unsurprising conclusion of the study is that buyers find it irritating when contact info isn’t readily available throughout the website. Check your website – no contact info means missed opportunities.
- About/Company Information – Yes, prospective customers do want to know your story, but you should be conscious of the context. Prospects are looking for clues about the character of your business. The research results indicate that buyers place importance on team bios, client lists, and customer referrals.
Your customers really want a clear answer to one direct question, “What is it that you do?” They want a sense of whether your company is credible and trustworthy. If your website answers questions in detail and conveys credibility, you stand a much better chance of making the 60% cut and receiving a request for direct contact.
Taming the Monster
If your website works for prospective customers, it will also work for you; but perhaps that’s easier said than done. Let’s look at some of the actual changes that are needed on many printing websites:
- Buyer Focus – Provide content that answers key questions with detailed information. Identify product and service benefits that are relevant and valuable. Focus on the areas that differentiate your company and can inspire buyers to make contact.
- Eliminate the Irrelevant – Marketing fluff, extensive product lists that no one will ever read, and equipment lists all fall into the irrelevant category. I pulled the graphic and caption at the right from a print website that was covered with Heidelberg photos. You may be a gearhead, but your website must focus on what’s important to your customers. They don’t care about the equipment or baseless promises. Tell them what you can do to solve specific problems and make their life easier.
- Enable and Encourage Communication – Adding interactive capabilities to your website works for your customers and for you. Contact info should be on every page. Include forms that make it easy for visitors to get in touch or ask a question. Embed a social media stream and add links to enable interested prospects to get in touch using their favorite channel.
Making Your Website Work for Your Business
Let’s revisit the 60% statistic. Ask any print salesperson and he will tell you that the rules of the game have changed. The old sales tactics of cold calling and frequent visits just don’t work so well any more. Salespeople still maintain relationships, but their ability to influence purchase decisions is waning. Frequently, the salespeople aren’t called in until the buyer is ready to negotiate the terms of a transaction.
Having a useful and informative website can only help the situation. If you can be the information source for prospective buyers, you have an edge. But your website can also be used in combination with other marketing tactics to short-circuit the process. What if you could collect information about the buyer in return for providing the information he or she is looking for? What if you could measure interactions to detect signals that a purchase decision is coming up? What if you could get in ahead of the competition to provide a solution that the buyer is looking for before they even ask for it?
It’s possible. The final and most important reason for taming the monster under the bed is to make it work for your printing business. Like it or not, your website is the hub of your marketing activity, and it can be used as part of a strategy to generate warm leads and initiate contact with prospects earlier in the decision cycle. Next week, we’ll write more about the inbound marketing process, and how it can work extremely well for smart printing company owners and marketers.
Monster Rehabilitation Services
Don’t be afraid of the monster. If you need some help with rehabilitation or a fresh start on a new website, just get in touch. DP Marketing Services will provide a free analysis of your existing website and offer some suggestions to make your website a productive hub for your marketing program.