→ Escape Velocity [a growth blog]

A Good Website is like a Healthy Body

A Good Website is like a Healthy Body

How do you communicate what you do? How do you articulate your service?

These are important questions for anyone who offers a service. It’s good to have a clear answer ready and even better if it’s interesting. When you clarify and articulate what you do, you become more memorable. There are some nice branding, marketing, and sales benefits when you hit a home run with this. So it’s definitely worth looking into.

On the simplest level, I make websites work and look better. A six-year-old can understand that so the clarity is good.

The problem is that it’s not that simple and not exactly what people are looking for. My customers, mostly professional service providers, aren’t preoccupied with “better.” They want to get ahead. They want results. And the most attractive result is harvesting new business from their websites.

Stranger danger

First off, I’m not a huge fan of focusing on cold leads and strangers for service business sites. The fantasy is that your website is going to be so effective that it attracts and passively converts strangers into customers. In reality, it doesn’t work like that very often.

You need critical mass of about 1,000 unique visitors per month before the phone really starts ringing. There’s nothing passive about generating that much interest in a service business.

Here’s something people need to understand: Most websites don’t generate much new business. The majority of websites don’t capture many leads at all. That doesn’t mean they don’t serve a purpose, it means they won’t convert loads of strangers into VIPs (at least not right away).

Customer journey and life cycle

This is where things start getting complex. A good website serves many purposes. It’s not all about creating awareness and harvesting new business. There are several important touchpoints in the customer journey (between strangers and VIPs).

Let’s look at customer segmentation (without the misleading funnel graphics). In general, there are more people at the top and less at the bottom. A certain degree of abandonment occurs between each of these segments. Also keep in mind that they don’t always occur in this order:

  • Strangers
  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Trust
  • Engagement
  • Conversion
  • Leads
  • Prospects
  • Customers
  • Repeat customers
  • Referral sources
  • VIPs (repeat customers who generate referrals)

The getting-business-from-strangers model is focused on boosting Awareness by widening the top. Why focus solely on strangers at the top when the bottom is where the revenue is?

Does anyone need to make an argument that referrals and repeat business are more important and cost-efficient than new customers? Cost per acquisition is a real thing.

Cost per acquisition is a real thing. #CPA Click To Tweet

And if you want results, there are many other ways to improve the effectiveness of your site. If better copywriting on your service page persuades a prospect to call you, that’s a win. But it doesn’t show up in your analytics as a conversion and doesn’t imply the prospect was a stranger.

You can generate more business without it necessarily being new business. And your website can work perfectly well without the analytics and metrics to prove it.

There is no secret

There isn’t a single method to enhance the experience of each step in the customer journey. They don’t happen at the same time. They don’t follow the same path. It’s a different experience for different segments of your web traffic. One size does not fit all.

And there is no magic SEO bullet that will drive enough traffic to neutralize shortcomings and pitfalls along the way. There usually aren’t enough people searching for your business in the first place. If you don’t rank high in search, your share of the search traffic won’t be high either. If your site experience isn’t excellent, it won’t convert a large percentage of the visitors who do find you.

There’s an incredibly complex symphony of technical and psychological factors at play. You could fill a very boring book explaining the details. And I’m not sure that the authors would fully understand all the relationships.

More complexity

A good website addresses the customer journey and life cycle on many levels. Here’s a short list of elements affecting the different segments from above:

  • Branding
  • User interface design
  • User experience design
  • Page load speed
  • Marketing strategy
  • Copywriting
  • Accessibility
  • Responsive behavior
  • Call to action
  • Valuable content
  • Search engine optimization
  • Conversion rate optimization
  • Keyword strategy
  • Analytics for data-driven decisions
  • Usability

Yikes, multivariate complexity. I just created two lists of several items with compound influence. When you look at the tactical methods to optimize the journey, you quickly see that it’s too complex to articulate. In fact, it might be closer to chaos than complexity.

The customer journey isn’t linear. The elements that affect user flow are dynamic and interrelated. How does copywriting relate to user experience design? Does the combination impress an interested visitor who doesn’t trust your site yet? Who knows? That’s just a simple example to illustrate how quickly dynamic relationships become intangible.

Yes, web design and digital marketing are complex. And no, you can’t understand the full complexity because there are too many dynamic variables. But I have found a technique that absolutely does work to improve websites and boost conversions.

Do the fundamentals well

The only thing that consistently moves the needle is a holistic approach to web publishing. If you’ve looked at your customer journey and the elements that influence behavior, you are already ahead of the pack.

Small improvements to each element compound into a snowball effect of better performance. You get improved results through the aggregate of doing many things well. But you might not know precisely why you’re getting the improved results.

Metaphors and analogies

The best analogy I’ve found is physical fitness. A good website is comparable to a healthy body. It’s not just one system or one approach that produces fitness. It’s a combination of countless elements working together to create a holistic effect. And there are a lot of factors operating in the background that we just don’t comprehend.

However, it’s easy to understand that if you want to be fit, you have to eat right, exercise, and get plenty of rest. It’s an active process that you pursue over time. If you’re unfit, there isn’t anything that immediately changes the circumstances. You just have to consistently execute the fundamentals and give it time.

Your website works exactly the same way.

This brings me full circle to the initial problem: How do you articulate what you actually do? One way is to add clarity by finding a metaphor or analogy that’s easy to understand.

For example, I make websites work and look better. I’m like a personal trainer for your website.

That’s so much easier to digest than multivariate, dynamic complexity. And it’s interesting. A lot of people like fitness, self-improvement, and the success genres. I’m just as comfortable chatting about exercise, diet, and nutrition as I am talking about Photoshop, WordPress, and marketing strategy. So the personal trainer analogy works for me to be more relatable and memorable.

Now I’m off to the gym to help this metaphor make more sense. The last thing I want is people rolling their eyes when I say, personal trainer 🙂

Like what you've seen so far?

Boost your Google rankings with search terms people actually use.

How’s that for a groundbreaking keyword strategy?

Please donate a retweet to keep this blog distraction-free. → Subscribe if you'd like.