This is Episode 22! In this episode, Visceral Concepts’ Founder Michael McNew explains 9 website features that the best websites have!
Websites are mandatory for any small business trying to grow and thrive.
I don’t just say that because I’m in the business of websites.
The modern business world happens 24/7 online.
That’s just the way things work nowadays.
That means your small business needs a strong digital presence.
And a website is at the center of that.
Today, I want to get into some important things your website will need if you want it to work.
These Features Are Critical To Your Website’s Success
Look, if you have a website and you’re missing the things we’re going to go over, you can pretty much pack it up right now.
This stuff matters if you want your website to do the one thing it’s supposed to be good at.Your website should bring you leads. Click To Tweet
Any website designer that’s worth anything should be helping you with these and know exactly what to do.
Being that your website is at the center of a digital marketing strategy, you need to make sure you get it right.
Don’t ever fall for the myth that you don’t need a website, though.
That’s going to end you fast.
If You Want To Love Your Website, Your Visitors Need To Love It
Here’s the truth.
You could think your website is totally awesome.
It might look excellent and have all the information you want it to.
When it’s launched, you can have all the confidence in it you want.
But if your visitors don’t become leads, you’re going to eventually hate it.
It’s going to represent an expense without a return.
Granted, you need to be doing your part.
Because you need visitors if you want to convert them to leads.
If you don’t understand that, you maybe don’t understand inbound marketing.
Which means you’re probably making other mistakes.
But fear not.
The tips I have for you are all easy to put in place.
They’re also something you can “retrofit” into an existing site to start undoing damage quickly.
Here’s what your website needs to have to make sure your visitors love it.
An Easy To Remember Domain Name
Rule number one of a website that works well for you is to have a domain that’s easy to find.
Your customers don’t want to have to hunt the web for you.
When they search for you on Google, there’s a chance they’ll wind up at another business.
Especially if your company name isn’t unique.
In the perfect case, your domain will be your company name.
However, if that doesn’t work, GoDaddy offers the following tips:
- Make your domain easy to type.
All the parts of your domain need to be straightforward.
Slang and shortened words don’t help.
Neither do difficult words.
- Keep the domain as short as possible.
The less your visitors have to type, the less likely they are to make a mistake.
- Use keywords that make sense.
When appropriate including keywords in your domain will help your SEO.
If you’re a pizza place in Chino (where we’re located), you might register ChinoPizza.com.
- Target your area.
See the example above.
Your city should be in your domain if you have a physical location.
- Avoid numbers or hyphens.
People don’t always know if you’re using the number of the spelling, so it’s a place for an error.
Also, it’s normal to forget or misplace a hyphen.
- Be as memorable as possible.
If you can register something catchy, it’s going to make a big impact.
Run your idea by friends and family to see how easy it is to remember.
- Make sure it’s safe.
Your idea might be trademarked, copyrighted, or in use.
Research to make sure it’s not.
Using something that’s legally owned by someone else can get you in hot water.
- Stick with a dot com.
Unless you have a specific need for another top-level domain extension, stick with a dot com.
Most people type dot com by default.
However, grab any other relevant extensions and have them forwarded to your main site.
Do your best to stay in line with your brand, too.
That’s going to keep your audience in the right expectations.
A Call-To-Action At The Top
When visitors come to your page, you want them to know what to do.
That’s why a call-to-action up where they can see it is so important.
Your visitors should immediately understand what you want them to do when they get to your site.
That reduces confusion and bounces.
Bounces are when the visitor leaves the site after only viewing one page, usually quickly.
Here’s what WordStream says you should do with your CTA:
- Start with a command verb.
Words like “order”, “shop”, “subscribe”, or “fill out” tell your audience what they’ll be doing.
This is going to improve their odds of follow-through.
- Use words that create emotion.
Ideas that make people emotional get them to act.
If you’re a travel agency, consider a click that offers their “dream vacation”.
End it with an exclamation mark for even more emphasis.
- Give your audience a reason to click.
What’s in it for your visitors if they click right now?
You need a unique selling proposition to get them interested.
Is your USP a special offer? A bonus?
Let them know what they get out of clicking your CTA.
- Play into their FOMO.
Fear of missing out is powerful.
In fact, it’s a better sales tool than incentive is.
Instead of saying “Get 1000s more customers” try “Don’t lose 1000s of customers!”
Their fear of losing will motivate them more.
- Don’t screw up on mobile.
Mobile devices lead to faster sales.
Create a call to action that reflects instant gratification.
If your CTA focuses on making a call or other phone-centric actions, it will improve the success.
- Don’t hesitate to be creative.
A CTA is supposed to catch attention.
If you want to do a better job, be a little creative.
There’s always a different way to say something.
Instead of “Book your service today!” try “Keep your car running like new!”
That creativity will help your CTA stand out.
- Add the pricing info if it makes sense.
We, consumers, respond really well to pricing info.
Discount numbers, prices, promotions, and incentives help us determine if it’s worth spending our money.
Putting that information up-front will help your visitor make their decision faster.
A masterful CTA is a big piece of a fantastic lead funnel.
Simple To Understand Navigation
I don’t think I need to emphasize the importance of simple navigation.
Navigation is what makes it possible for your visitors to find their way around your site.
If your site is tough to navigate, they’ll leave.
Web Designer Depot offers these 4 suggestions to make your navigation work:
- Keep the navigation clear.
For starters, you need to use labels that people understand.
If they want to know what you do, they need to be able to find your services tab.
Even better if they get a nav menu that tells them what the services are.
Just make sure your menu items aren’t labeled with words that will only make sense to you.
- Make the navigation fit.
This isn’t a size issue.
You’ve been to websites with navigation that seemed like an afterthought.
If your nav menu looks like something you almost forgot, it’s a bad thing.
It should completely fit in with both your brand and the aesthetic of your site.
- Less is more.
You really don’t need a menu that lists everything on your site.
Try to stick with the top-level pages and “cornerstone content”.
It’s logical to expect your clients can find their way past that if they need to.
Especially if you listen to the next point.
- Don’t go too deep.
Think about how far your visitors are going to have to go for the information they want.
If they have to go too far, they’re going to bounce.
Your visitors should be able to get everywhere they need in one or two clicks.
Fast, simple navigation keeps them from getting lost and frustrated.
When all is said and done, clean website navigation is key to a website that brings in leads.
Reviews & Testimonials
Trust is huge when you want to turn a website visitor into a customer.
They need to know that you are who you say you are and that you do what you say you will.
What better way to do that then to let your customers tell them?
Customer testimonials do great things for your credibility.
As OptimWise points out, they:
- Provide social proof.
When people believe they’re doing the right thing, they’re more likely to do it.
That’s what social proof is for.
By demonstrating that others are making a choice, your visitors are more likely to do the same.
- Let others do the selling.
One of the great benefits of a testimonial is that it lets your customers sell.
That takes away one of the hardest parts of your job.
It also takes the “sales pressure” out of the scenario.
That makes your visitors much more comfortable and more likely to buy.
- Give you more credibility.
When someone who has nothing to gain from your success says something good about you, people listen.
There’s something more trustworthy about someone uninvested.
Testimonials are exactly that.
- Allow your visitors to picture being a client.
When you hear from someone who’s already done what you’re considering, you can relate to them.
You start to envision yourself in their shoes.
When visitors start to envision themselves as your customers, they’re that much closer to becoming one.
- Give you one more chance to tell your visitor what you can do for them.
Granted, it’s your customers saying it instead of you.
Testimonials talk about what you did for previous purchasers.
Emphasize you can do the same for new visitors.
They’ll start to feel good about the decision.
Getting testimonials is incredibly important for your business.
It’s also way easier than you’d think.
Fresh, Up-To-Date Content
Fresh content is a cornerstone of a great website.
It’s also critical to gaining any kind of site traffic.
Especially because it’s important to SEO.
Google wants to know the age of your content because it’s relative to the questions people are searching for the answers to.
Sometimes it’s better to have older content, and sometimes fresher is better.
It just depends on the topic in question.
Moz expands on the idea here, and they explain what factors impact content freshness as well.
- The freshness of publishing.
More accurately, Google bases this on when they indexed the page.
The more recent the index, the fresher Google considers it.
- How much has been changed?
If you’ve made recent changes to the content, Google will consider the page fresher than it was.
However, changing a sentence or two won’t have as big an impact as changing all the stats will.
- Did the core content or the code change?
Google only really cares if the real content changes.
Things like background code, comments, and navigation changes aren’t a factor.
- How often does it change?
The more often the content is updated, the fresher the information.
That could be good or bad depending on how often the topic changes.
- Are there new pages?
Things like blogs also impact your site’s overall freshness.
If you’re regularly adding new content, Google will consider you fresher.
- Inbound links play a part.
You should never pay for inbound links.
However, if your content starts to get more, it plays a factor in where Google ranks how fresh your content is.
- People engage with fresher content.
Maybe fresher isn’t the right word here, but relevance is tied to freshness.
The more people engage with your site, the more relevant the information seems to be.
That means Google considers it up-to-date.
- Changing linked text can make your content stale.
Your website evolves over time.
Sometimes that involves a change in topic.
If you switch from marketing to auto restoration, your link text will change too.
That new “anchor” text will make the old stuff rank as stale.
- Sometimes older is better.
Some things don’t get new information.
Like the Declaration of Independence.
That hasn’t changed in over 200 years.
Older websites that offer information about it are likely to be the source for newer content.
Therefore they’ll rank better.
Unless your industry changes on the regular, you need new content.
Learn to think like your customers and get them the content they want.
A Fast Way To Contact You
Seriously? What the hell are people on your website for?
You know they’re not just there to learn about widgets.
They’re likely in the market to buy some.
If they’re going to buy yours, they need to know how to get in touch with you.
Blend Digital has some great points about why contact pages are important.
They also mention you should include:
- Your location, when it makes sense.
If you have a place for customers to visit you, you ought to include it.
Your website should be the first place they go to find it.
- A map of where you have offices (if you’re including your location).
If you’ve got more than one location, place the markers on a map.
Your clients can look at your locations and find the closest to them.
That’s going to make their life easier when they’re ready to come to buy from you.
- A phone number to reach you.
Some people want to talk to a person.
Even if they need to go through an automated system first.
Give your website visitors a way to do it.
- A straightforward contact form.
If your contact form is confusing, people won’t fill it out.
Keep it to only the basics your audience would expect to fill out when inquiring about your product.
If they can buy from your e-commerce store, give them a good way to ask questions before the purchase.
Your contact information is critical to your visitors.
Failing to include it is one of the biggest website mistakes you can make.
Featured Products And Services
Obviously, you want to let your audience know what you can do for them.
That means you need to clue them in on what you do.
However, that’s more than just a generic industry description.
You need the information you share about your products and services to help sell them.
That means you need a great product description.
Like the one Shopify talks about.
They’ve also got these tips to help you write it:
- Write for your perfect client.
Consider your audience before you write anything.
When you’re talking about your product, you want to talk directly to the ideal buyer.
Talk directly to them on a personal level, and use language they can relate to.
- Share the benefits the product offers.
Your product probably has a lot of cool features you get excited over.
After all, you probably had something to do with putting them in place.
I assume you did that for a reason.
Your customers, however, want to know what those features are going to do for them.
It’s best if you focus on what the features do instead of what they are.
- Don’t say things your visitors are going to write off.
You know what I’m talking about.
If you resort to generic descriptors, like “excellent” or “amazing”, your audience is going to roll their eyes.
Instead, try telling them about the technical details and how those details benefit the client.
- If you can’t prove your product is awesome, don’t say it is.
Ok, maybe you can say it’s awesome.
However, if you use a superlative, you’d better be able to back it up.
If you want to say your product is the “highest quality”, you’d better be able to show them how you know.
- Get your customers to envision ownership.
If a buyer holds a product in their hands, they’re more likely to buy it.
However, your website can’t allow them to do that.
The tech just isn’t there yet.
But if your description can paint a vivid picture of ownership, it’s the next best thing.
- Share short stories about the product.
Everyone loves a good story.
When one gets told, our rational barriers come down.
We stop feeling like we’re being sold to.
Try talking about the people behind the product or service.
- Think about your audience’s senses.
Restaurants are masters of using sensory words to increase sales.
Imagine how a commercial for your local steakhouse might go.
They toss around “savory” and “scrumptious” and other words that work on your senses.
If you can bring the same ideas into play, you can transform adjectives from detractions to powerful tools.
- Keep it to a quick read.
Do your best to keep your descriptions scannable.
Bullet points are always easier to read than paragraphs.
Clear, large text helps people see the words better.
Because most people are in a hurry, they want to take in the information quickly.
If your descriptions are quick to read, your audience will be encouraged to do so.
When you can make your product and service features more than just a listing, you can start to convert better.
It’s yet another marketing strategy you can’t dismiss.
Social Media Links
You need your content shared.
It’s the most important part of spreading your content online, especially through social.
To do that, you’ve got to add social media links.
Most importantly you need share buttons.
They’re responsible for increasing the number of shares you get by up to 700%.
CodeInWP has a hugely informative article on just how important this addition is.
They also give you a rundown of the places these buttons are most commonly placed.
Understanding these placements can help you decide where you should add them to your site.
- Place them in the header.
People will almost always see the top of your website.
In fact, it’s what first draws most visitors’ attention.
They’re a perfect fit here for a more professional look.
- Add links to the sidebar.
The top-right of a page is the easiest place for people to find social icons.
That makes the sidebar a great place to put them.
Be careful, though, as you’ll want to make sure they don’t look out of place with your other sidebar content.
- Place them above and/or below your blog articles.
A great place to ensure the right kind of social shares is by putting them directly above and/or below the post.
Above takes a little courage since you’re asking for the share before you give the value.
Below, on the other hand, can often get missed.
Either is great if you specifically want your blog content shared.
- Add a floating social bar.
Look to the left of any of our blog articles and you’ll see a floating bar.
It’s a set of social links that follows the reader.
That gives your audience the opportunity to share the moment the feeling strikes them.
The ease can increase your share potential.
This simplicity of adding sharing buttons is critical if you want your content shared.
Live Chat Feature
People hate waiting for a response.
Live chat is a great way for your audience to get an instant response.
It’s fast, convenient, and allows your customers to get the information they need without trouble.
Neil Patel wrote up all the great reasons live chat is a great addition to your site.
These four reasons made a big impact on me:
- A quicker response will result in more leads.
Did I mention people hate to wait?
They hate it so much that waiting just five minutes to respond costs you ten times as many leads.
If you wait fifteen minutes, you can kiss them all goodbye.
The world is too fast for anything less than instant.
That’s where live chat comes in.
It’s a medium that enables you to respond now.
- You can still help your customers when you aren’t there.
Many live chat providers offer automation tools.
These “bots” allow your chat windows to interact when there’s not a real person.
They’re actually good at it too.
While they’re not fooling anyone into believing they’re a person, they provide helpful information immediately.
That gets people the fast response that can help them.
- There’s no faster way to overcome a visitor’s objection.
Sometimes your visitors will have a question that your site doesn’t answer.
That answer could be a make it or break it moment in the sale.
With the proper live chat response, you can handle that right away.
In fact, you can automate the situation to let your visitors know that you can answer their questions on a specific topic based on their current actions.
That’s going to preempt a lot of objections.
Which is going to boost a lot of sales.
- You can convert better than with a form.
I love forms.
Don’t get me wrong, I use them all over the place.
But most site visitors avoid them.
They know it’s a way to get information, and they don’t want to give it.
But a live chat window is a conversation.
And people are more likely to engage.
And, again through automation, you can use it to qualify leads way better in a more relaxed way.
Live chat has become a huge part of making sure your website brings in leads.
Who Wouldn’t Love A Website With All That?
There are a lot of things we just went over, so I hope you took good notes.
I also hope you paid attention to what your website needs.
Take your time to figure out how you want to add all these.
They can be added one-by-one or all at once.
The important thing is that you always keep your website up-to-date with the functions that visitors want.
Remember, it’s the stuff that helps you convert leads and make sales that are worth your time.
Usually, those are the things that your visitors find most valuable.
Pay attention to what’s working, test, and adjust.
Your website will start doing its job better in no time.
And when it does, you’ll see growth.