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Revenue and Features Editor, Co-host of Content Lab, 15+ Years of Writing and Teaching Experience
March 8th, 2021
You finally have the evidence you’ve been dreading: You know for a fact that customers are heading to your competitors after they visit your website.
You might not be sure why, but you’re starting to sweat about it. You wonder: What is our website lacking that causes these potential customers to see it, leave, and then go to a competitor? What do they have that we don’t?
To make this kind of speculation beneficial, you have to first establish one thing:
Why do customers visit websites in the first place?
Customers visit websites because they are looking for something of value.
Potential customers are using a search engine because they’re gathering information before making a purchase, whether that purchase is going to happen today or a year from now.
To put it simply, if someone has made it to your site, they are considering doing business with you. Whether you sell landscaping services or books, a site visitor is at least interested in buying, and they may be completely ready to buy today.
These potential customers want information that makes them feel assured that buying from your company is a good idea.
Do you have the product they’re looking for?
Do you understand their challenges?
Does it come at a price they can afford?
After they buy, will they be treated well by your service team?
For buyers, it all comes down to trust. If they trust you, they are more likely to buy from you. From what they see on your site, can they trust your competency? Can they trust your prices? Can they trust your sales pitch?
Trust is the currency of all business — and your website needs to be a trust building resource that makes visitors feel like they can start to know you.
If you suddenly realize your site is falling short, what can you do?
Kevin Philips is IMPACT’s lead content trainer, and he works with businesses all over the world to help them produce trust-building content for their website.
According to Kevin, if you’re suddenly aware of major shortcomings on your website, you need to begin by truly understanding what you’re missing — and setting realistic expectations — before you can start making the necessary improvements.
Do this today: Audit your site
Trust takes time to grow. You’re not immediately going to turn your website into a traffic-driving, lead-gathering, trust-generating machine. But there are steps you can take today to start yourself on the right path.
Clear some time on your calendar and audit your site
Open your website.
Imagine you’re a customer. What do you see?
If your website talks mostly about your business, think about changing it to focus on the customer and their problems. Instead of “We make the best affordable furniture,” go with “Quality furniture for your living room and your budget.” Notice how the emphasis is now on the buyer?
As you go through your site, try to see it all with fresh eyes.
If you were a brand new visitor who had never heard of your business before, what would your impression be?
Would the site make you trust the business?
Does the business understand your challenges?
Next, think about how customers move through your site. Remember, not everyone comes right to your homepage. They might land on a product page or somewhere else. Are there clear pathways to follow?
Make a list of shortcomings and areas for improvement.
Next, do the same for your competitors
Now, look at your competitors’ websites. You don’t have to look at every one, but check out a few. Try to see it with “customer eyes” just like you did with your site. This serves two ends:
You can see what your competitors have that you don’t. Maybe they have a pricing calculator. Maybe they have videos on their product pages. If you want to stay in league with them, you might want to do the same.
You can get opportunities to corner the market. Maybe your competitors are lacking content or features that a customer would want. You can see these holes and be first to fill them.
Make a list of nice-to-haves from what you see on these other sites.
(Keep in mind, you don’t just have to think about direct competition. If you’re a roofing company in Phoenix, you’re not competing with roofers in Orlando — but their websites might still be useful for you to check out.)
Do this tomorrow: Website bandaids
You will not be able to completely update your website tomorrow. You have to be realistic. After all, some updates will require coding. But, you can get started by focusing on what you can control.
Here are four fairly quick updates and adjustments you can make in the short term.
Work on shifting your language to make it more buyer-focused. Remember, the buyer needs to see herself and her challenges represented on your website. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Adjust your language accordingly.
Make sure logical next actions are clear. Think about what you want your visitors to do when they’re on your site. Do you want your users to schedule a demo? Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter? Whatever it is, there should be CTA that makes it easy for them to take that desired action — but make sure that action fits in the buying process. Someone in the early consideration stages is not ready to speak to a sales rep.
Site security. According to Kevin, “site security is pretty much expected these days — and people can be thrown off guard if they end up on an unsecure site.” If you want visitors to fill out a form, make them know their data will be secure. There are free SSL certification services available. You can also speak to your hosting company.
Update your Google My Business profile. This is not part of your website, but it’s a must-have for organizations of any size — and it’s a quick win. If you haven’t given any attention to your Google My Business listing recently, double check to make sure everything is accurate. Conflicting information between your website and your GMB will quickly erode trust among buyers. Check your hours, location, phone number, and more. If there are negative reviews in Google, take them to heart and engage with the reviewers directly.
The beauty of improving your website is that you should have the data to back up any decision you make. Even without paid tools like heatmaps, you can pull together enough information to know where to best put your effort.
For example, Kevin says, if you have a blog and people don’t stay on it for more than a minute, you have a content problem. If they spend ten minutes on your blog but then all exit instead of clicking through to other content, then you have a navigation problem. If you have good numbers but aren’t getting conversions, you probably need to tweak your CTAs.
Google Analytics will give you insight into metrics like bounce rates and dwell time, which will tell you how people are behaving once they’re on your site. With this information, you can start thinking about how to update your site to improve these numbers.
Google Search Console gives you a better understanding of how Google views your website. You can use this information to optimize your website’s performance in search results. Use Search Console to see all of the keywords driving traffic to your site, your average position for those keywords, the total number of clicks you received for those keywords, and many other helpful metrics.
Do this from here on out: Commit to building trust with your buyers
Kevin puts it simply: “The solution is always the same: create educational content.” If you agree that potential customers are getting their first impressions of your business from your website — and that trust is vital to your business succeeding — then you need to start turning your website into a trust-building machine.
Start by addressing the questions that buyers have. If you’re not sure, talk to your sales team. What are they hearing from customers? Chances are, if they’re hearing a certain question from someone already in your sales pipeline, 50 prospects out there are typing that exact same question into Google right now.
Otherwise, we recommend covering what we call The Big 5 — five content topics that are certain to drive traffic and build trust. If you need a roadmap, here’s how to get started.
Be forewarned, though, building trust is sometimes uncomfortable.
Are you willing to openly address cost on your website? How about the potential drawbacks of your offerings?
If you’re hesitant, think of it this way: If you were about to make a big purchase, what would you want to know? Wouldn’t you value vendors who are transparent and honest with you?
There are numerous free courses in IMPACT+ that will help you plan a content strategy that can help you connect with buyers in a way that keeps them on your website and makes it more likely they will buy from you.
Remember, the work of building trust never ends, but when you win customers who value your business, they can become your greatest advocates. Trust is slow to develop, but it also lasts for a long time. An investment in trust-building content is an investment in the future of your business.