7 STEPS TO WEB SITES THAT SELL
By Charlie Cook
Your web site is like a fight of stairs into your
business. Once you've got prospects to your home page
- your online front door - you want to move them to
action. If you miss a step or two, prospects will fall
and won't make it in the door to your business. If you
put the last step first and your first step last,
prospects won't find the steps you want them to take.
There is a hierarchy of information and elements you
need to present to prospects to make it easy for them
to become customers and clients. This is not what most
small business owners provide on their web sites. Most
sites lead with a boring description of services and
credentials. This tends to push prospects away.
Before you build your web site or start to fix a site
that isn't attracting as many clients as you'd like,
take a minute to clarify the objectives of your site.
Marketing objectives for web sites for most independent
professionals and small business owners should be:
a. Lead Generation - Build your list of qualified
prospects who are interested in your products and
services but not quite ready to make a purchase. First
time visitors to the site need to be able to quickly
identity if they are in the right place and determine
whether you can help them. Make it easy for prospects
to qualify themselves.
b. Establish Credibility- If people found your site by
searching the web, you have a lot of work to do to
prove that you can help them and deliver on what the
c. Sell Your Products and Services - Of course you will
want to include information about your products and
services, but if you rush this step, you'll lose
prospects before you've created the context that will
move them to a purchase.
PUTTING YOUR STEPS IN SEQUENCE
Now that you know what you want your web site to do,
define the key elements that should be on your home page.
Put these in the correct sequence and more prospects will
do what you want. You'll generate more leads and more
sales. Here's how.
1. FEATURE YOUR MARKETING MESSAGE - At the top of your
home page include a one sentence marketing message that
describes what you actually do and the problems you solve.
For example, "Helping service professionals and small
business owners attract more clients" or "Helping you
create the ultimate personalized trip to Britain".
2. COLLECT LEADS - Place the sign-up for your free
newsletter, ebook, or catalogue at the top of your web
page. The right hand top corner is the optimal position.
Above the sign-up form don't just say "Enter your email
here for complimentary information". Make an offer, one
that will motivate your prospects to give you their
contact information. For example, "Sign Up for Britain's
best travel secrets." As an incentive on my site I offer
a free marketing guide to motivate people to subscribe
to my newsletter, with the result that 12-15% of site
visitors sign up for my ezine.
3. USE QUALIFYING QUESTIONS - Don't start with a
description of your services or products. Below your
marketing message, lead with qualifying questions,
that will help prospects understand the problems you
solve, engage your visitors' attention and create a
perception of need.
For example, if you sell ergonomic chairs, you could
ask, "Does your back ache at the end of a day at your
desk?" Or if you sell customized travel services to
Britain you could ask, "Are you interested in a
customized, hassle f*ree va*cation in the British Isles?"
4. BUILD CREDIBILITY - One-way to do this is to include
testimonials from satisfied clients. People will read
your marketing copy with a grain - or a whole shaker
- of salt. When people read what others say about the
amazing results you achieve, they are much more likely
to believe your claims. Limit your testimonials to
ones that are easy to believe, even if you did help
someone make ten million dollars.
The second part of establishing your credibility is
to demonstrate the value of your expertise by
providing prospects with helpful ideas. If you're in
the computer repair and maintenance business you might
include tips on identifying software conflicts and
keeping computers from crashing.
People like to do business with people they know and
trust so use your site to bring your company and
personality to life. Include links to your articles,
case studies and /or product demonstrations. Add a
photo of yourself or your employees to personalize
your site and move prospects to thinking of you as
5. SHOW PROSPECTS THE RESULTS YOU ARE SELLING - Include
thumbnails of products and services people can click
on in a side navigation bar on most of your site's
pages. Whatever you sell make sure to feature both
visual and verbal testimonials along with information
and images of your products and services.
On your individual service or product pages provide
examples of clients and customers using your services
or products. For ebooks, include tables of contents
and sample chapters. If you sell log homes, include
pictures of happy customers in their homes. If you
sell information, feature client testimonials.
6. TELL PROSPECTS WHAT TO DO - If you want people
to sign up for your newsletter, tell them to. To
get people to read the articles on your site,
tell them to. To increase the number of people
who view the pages describing your products and
services, include thumbnail images of your products
and tell them to click on the image for further
information. If there is a particular sequence of
steps you want prospects to take, tell them what
7. MAKE IT EASY FOR PROSPECTS - Place your contact
information, including email address and phone
number in an obvious location on every page,
particularly the home page. Include a link to
a contact form or place it at the bottom of your
home page, or both.
In your form, ask a few key questions to help
prospects clarify what it is they want to achieve
and get their phone number so you can follow up.
Their responses will help you prioritize who to
contact and help you focus on your most profitable
Show prospects who are ready to engage your services
or buy your products how to do so. Coaches will want
to include a coaching inquiry form. People who sell
greeting cards, should include a quick link to so
people can place their orders.
Use the blueprint above to construct a web site
that sells. Build steps that will lead prospects
into your web site and motivate them to give you
their name, email address and phone number or to
contact you about your services or to buy your
products. Build steps that will move them from
prospects to clients and customers.
2004 © In Mind Communications, LLC. All rights reserved.
The author, Marketing Coach, Charlie Cook, helps
independent professionals and small business owners
attract more clients and increase their earnings
with the 5 Principles of Highly Effective Marketing.
Sign up to receive the Free Marketing Guide and the
'More Business' newsletter, full of practical tips
you can use at http://www.charliecook.net