Learning Objective: Plan your website so that it will present the professional, polished image you want the world to see.
Every savvy, successful entrepreneur knows that without an online presence, you’ll be hard pressed to grow a profitable business.
The question is, does your website do its job?
Is it presenting the best “first impression” of you and your brand?
Does it confidently proclaim your expertise?
Do visitors instantly know what you do and who you work with?
If you can’t answer those questions with a resounding “Yes!” then your website could use some help.
Here’s what you might not realize about websites and how readers see them. If you don’t capture your visitor’s attention within a few seconds, she’s very likely to click off the page—never to return. Even worse, if she lands on your site and isn’t immediately aware of what you do—if she’s confused at all—you’ll have to work harder to earn her trust.
Clearly, your website has a big job to do, and it must do it quickly. Some say in three seconds or less.
We all know the power of first impressions and how long lasting they can be, so you simply cannot afford to waste those precious few seconds with a new visitor.
With a well-planned, beautifully executed website, you’ll enjoy:
Better name recognition
More partnership opportunities
Increased sales (and profits)
More speaking engagements
And best of all, your website will present the professional, polished image you want the world to see.
Step One: Define Your Primary Website Goal
Your website has a lot of jobs to do. You want it to:
Attract new traffic
Grow your mailing list
Educate and inform your market
Sell your products and programs
Show off your expertise
Provide personal information for potential partners and the press
But there can be only one main goal. This is the primary task you want your website to perform, and it will determine the traffic flow to and from every page on your site.
For most entrepreneurs, the primary goal is to get clients. That might mean you want people to sign up for your mailing list (if you have a rock-solid funnel that’s performing well), book a discovery session (if you are a proven “closer”), or purchase a product (if your sales pages rock and you have a good selection of programs to choose from).
Your primary website goal will be the first thing you want people to see and do on your site. For example, if your goal is to build your list, an eye-catching opt-in form with a killer offer should be at the top of every page.
Want to make sales? Be sure your site visitors know immediately that you have something to sell (you’d be shocked how many people miss this simple piece of the puzzle) with both attention-grabbing graphics and clear calls to action.
And if booking discovery calls is your goal, then clearly you want that option to be front and center on your website—or at least super easy to find.
Step Two: Map Out Your Website
Now that you know what you want visitors to your site to do, it’s time to make it easy for them to do it. As you saw in step one, the top section of every page on your site is the perfect place to showcase your primary goal, whether that’s an opt-in form, a buy button, or an invitation to schedule an appointment.
But what about the other sections of your site? How do you envision blog readers will find your products? How will potential clients discover your areas of expertise?
Sketching out a website “map” will help you visualize the flow of traffic from one page to the next. Your primary navigation menu will follow this map, so if it helps, think of the pages you will want to include there, and how they might link to one another, like this:
Home: Links to your opt-in offer, your discovery session schedule, and your products page.
Blog: Individual posts all link to your opt-in offer plus the appropriate sales page as well as additional blog posts and other information which is useful to your ideal reader.
Work With Me: Your primary service offering, links to your discovery session booking and products pages.
Products: Links to related product pages.
About Me: Links to “Work With Me”
Contact: Links to product pages.
Your website may have more (or fewer) top level pages in your map, depending on the number of products you offer, whether or not you have a podcast or YouTube channel, if you have a press or speaker package, or other business divisions.
No matter the number of pages on your site, though, you should be sure that each one leads naturally to the next. Remember, your potential clients won’t always know what the next step is, so it’s your website’s job to show them the way.
Step Three: Beautifully Branded
When you think of branding, what comes to mind?
Logos? Colors? Clever mascots?
That’s what most people think of, so you’re not alone, but there is so much more to branding than the colors on your site and your logo—although both of those things are important, of course.
Here’s how Entrepreneur Magazine defines it:
Branding is a marketing strategy that involves creating a differentiated name and image — often using a logo and/or tag line — in order to establish a presence in the consumer’s mind and attract and keep customers.
And here’s what BusinessDictionary.com has to say:
Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.
It’s clear that while your logo and colors are important, there are other factors to consider as well, the most important of which is your unique selling proposition.
The key is to merge all the elements of your brand into one stunning, unforgettable website:
Logo and colors
Your USP (step 4 will help with that)
You can choose to work with a branding expert who will guide you through the process, or you can choose the DIY approach. No matter which method you choose, though, it pays to put in some work first, so you can have a better idea of what you’re trying to accomplish.
Step Four: All About You!
When it comes right down to it, your brand (and the brand of any entrepreneur) is you. It’s your personality that shines through; it’s your experiences that drive your business direction; it’s your life story that led you to where you are right now. And that means that your website should feature you front and center.
Your “About” page is a great place to start. Share your personal story here. Let your potential clients know:
Who you work with and why you chose that market
The personal experiences that drove your decision to become active in your niche
Your goals and dreams and future plans
As one of the most important pages on your site, it’s critical that this page gives your readers a sense of who you are, so he/she will instantly know if you’re someone they want to work with.
Beyond your about page, though, your personality should shine through in every:
You will also want to put some thought into your headshots. Professional photos are becoming a must-have for anyone who wants to uplevel their business, so start planning now how you want those to look. Will you dress up or down? What image do you want to present? And most important of all, what is most comfortable for you?
In short, be you. Don’t make the mistake of trying to sound or look “professional and corporate,” unless that’s who you really are, and don’t try to be “chatty and personable” if that’s not your true personality. Just be yourself, and the right people will automatically be attracted to you.
Step Five: Attracting the Right Traffic
Building a website is only the beginning. Attracting the right traffic to your newly built site is the key to growing your list and making sales. After all, you might have thousands of visitors each month, but if your ideal client is a single woman in her 50s and all your traffic is men in their 20s, you’re not going to sell anything.
Bringing the right traffic in depends on many things:
Using the correct language (do you sound like a friend and confidant or more like an out-of-touch college professor?)
Getting found in the search results (are you targeting the keywords your audience uses?)
Creating the content your audience wants and needs (are you offering only blog posts while your audience is listening to podcasts?)
Get the right balance of these elements, and you’ll find that your website traffic is ideally suited for your products and programs, that they happily take advantage of your offers, and that your business grows naturally along a path you love.
How can you know you’re using the right language and creating products that will resonate with your market? You ask them.
The number one easiest way to find out is to create a customer survey. You can set up a simple survey using Google Forms or Survey Maker Pro (https://surveymakerpro.com), and then share the link via your email list (add it to your autoresponder to keep the flow of information going) and social media.
Be sure to ask a variety of open-ended and multiple choice questions, but keep the survey short as well. You can’t expect anyone to spend more than a few minutes answering questions.
Some questions you might want to consider include:
Demographic questions such as age, income level, education level
“Biggest issue” questions (this will tell you exactly what programs you need to create)
Business or life level questions—where are they in their journey?
Cost questions—how much are they willing/able to pay for a solution
As you browse the answers, pay close attention to the words and phrases your audience uses (these will give you insight into search terms to target), the problems they face (so you can create products to solve them), and the level they are at in business. This is your market, and if your website clearly speaks their language and solves their problems, you’ll never again have to worry about attracting the right traffic—it will happen quite naturally all on its own.
Step Six: Fill in the Gaps
In Step 2 we talked about mapping the flow of your website to lead readers from one step to another. Now it’s time to fill in those few missing pieces that tie the whole thing together, including:
Some of these may seem obvious, but you’d be shocked to know just how often these important pieces are ignored on otherwise well-planned sites.
For example, if list-building is your site’s primary goal (defined in Step 1) you should have an opt-in form:
In your site header (see the example from Melissa Ingold’s TimeFreedomBusiness.com above)
In your sidebar
In your footer
At the end of each blog post
You should also have a dedicated opt-in page (or two, or more) that you link to from the pages and posts on your site, as well as from social media.
If your site’s main goal is sales, then it’s critical that you make it obvious you have something to buy. Create a “products” page and include it in your primary navigation. Link to relevant products from your blog posts. Include your products as upsells on the thank you pages your subscribers see. Remember, visitors can’t buy if they don’t know you’re selling. Make sure they know.
And what if your potential clients have questions? How can they reach you? Do you have a clear contact page that’s easy to find and use? It’s a simple task to create a form that allows your readers to email you directly from your site. You can also include:
A link to your help desk
Your email address
Your phone number
Giving your clients a variety of ways to reach you will help establish your credibility and that all-important “know, like and trust” factor.
Step Seven: Eliminate the Leaks
One big issue many websites have is leaks. These are the places where your potential clients leave your site, never to return. Maybe it’s the links to your social accounts, videos that recommend content other than yours, or even product recommendations you’re making in your blog.
While many of these things are necessary for business growth and better SEO, there are ways you can help ensure that offering your readers content outside your domain doesn’t lead them down a path they won’t return from.
Let’s start with social. You probably have a nifty little row of social media icons somewhere near the top of your website. Most sites have these, with the reasoning being that you want readers to know where you hang out, so they can join you. The problem is, this is a huge traffic leak! One “in the know” website recently termed these icons “candy-colored exit signs.” And that’s exactly what they are—an invitation to leave your site.
Here’s a better option: put your social media links in your footer. Readers will still find them, but they won’t be quite the compelling invitation they are when placed so prominently near the top of your site. Save that prime real estate for calls to action that benefit you, not Facebook.
Another very common link is YouTube videos. While embedding them on your site and in your blog posts is great for reader interaction (nearly everyone loves video) and to increase time on your site, they’re also leading readers away by promoting “related videos.”
You can easily turn this option off when you grab the embed code from YouTube, just by unchecking the box that says “Show suggested videos when the video finishes.” Make it a habit to do that whenever you showcase a YouTube video, and you’ll plug a very large leak that takes readers away from your site.
Finally, what about links to other websites? These are important for SEO, because Google and other search engines prefer to recommend sites that feature outbound links. It shows you are offering your readers the best information available, even if it’s not on your site.
The trouble is, clicking those links will take your reader off your page. The best way to fix this leak is to simply make all off-site links open in a new tab. That way your reader won’t lose her place on your site even if she does decide to check out that other resource you mentioned.
Step Eight: Accessorize
Unless your business is local and does not rely on the Internet for bringing in clients, then you very likely need more (much more) than a page or two to attract the best clients. Just as you never see a super model wearing a sleek black dress without shoes or earrings or a fashionable clutch, you’ll never find a well planned website that isn’t sporting at least a few matching accessories.
For your website, those accessories might include:
A YouTube channel
Of course, you don’t have to include them all. Which ones you choose will depend on your preferences, your goals, and (most importantly) the needs of your audience.
If you love to write and your market enjoys keeping up with blogs, then a blog is an important accessory for your website. If you hate to write and know you won’t be consistent with your blogging, then a YouTube channel or a podcast is probably a better choice for you.
Another thing to keep in mind is the format of your products and programs. If they are video-based, then using video to accessorize your site is a natural fit. After all, if your clients prefer to learn via video—which they do if they’re buying your video-based programs—then they’ll obviously like to see other video content as well.
Here’s the bottom line when it comes to creating a client-attracting website: keep your goals in line with what your ideal client wants and needs from you, and you absolutely cannot fail. When you get this right, you’ll naturally attract the right audience, appeal to your ideal client, and be seen as the go-to source for your unique market.
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