Saturday, April 12, 2008

Removing Website Obstacles

Michelle Howe This article was written by Michelle Howe, MBA.

When someone lands on your homepage, how clear is your marketing message? Is it easy for them to decide to do business with you or do they have to maneuver through a series of obstacles on your website to get the information they need?

Let's take a look at some of the obstacles on a website that sabotage the sales process:

Confusing Navigation
How many times have you gone to a website, ready to buy, and then can't figure out where you need to go to make the purchase?

One of my first clients hired me to write sales copy for her website because she had written the copy and she felt it was not doing a good job converting sales. So I went to the website and pretended I was a customer to experience what her customers experience when they go to the website.

I actually spent over 10 minutes trying to figure out where I needed to go to buy her products and the only reason I didn't give up is because I had been hired to solve the problem of poor sales.

What I discovered is that her biggest problem wasn't the sales copy, it was poor navigation. First we had to solve the navigation problem and then I rewrote the copy for her products. And you know what happened? Literally hours after the website went live with the new changes she started selling products.

Confusing Jargon
You may be an expert in your field but what about your customer? One of the biggest problems I find with website copy written by the business owner is that it is too technical. The content tends to be filled with jargon or words that would be unfamiliar to a potential customer or client.

A few years back I was working on a website for a client who did remodeling for commercial buildings. He insisted that the website content include construction terminology that only a builder would understand. I asked him who his customers were and he told me they were store managers (who may or may not be familiar with construction terms).

It never occurred to him that the website content needed to be written using words that would be familiar to his customers and to leave out the jargon.

Confusing Marketing Message
When someone comes to your website they are looking for information to help them solve a problem. In order for them to get an answer to their problem, you need to make sure the answer is not hidden on your website or completely missing.

Since most people who come to your website will land on the home page, it's vitally important that you have bold headlines that clearly express your marketing message in a way that is easy to understand.

It doesn't matter whether you are selling a product or selling a service, what's most important is that people can immediately figure out what to do without having to think too much. If you make them think, they will leave your site. No one has the time to read through long paragraphs and long sentences.

You want to present a simple headline, easy-to-understand benefits and a clear value proposition. By scanning the headlines on the home page, the reader should immediately be able to make a decision about whether they want to do business with you or not.

Simple language, clear direction and benefit driven content are key to a successful website. If you want to increase the sales on your website, maybe you just need to remove the obstacles that sabotage the sales process.

Michelle Howe is the president of Internet Word Magic, an Internet marketing and PR agency.