Are you text ready?

Rushing never yields the same result as planning

One of my colleagues and I were recently discussing creating websites for our clients. She related the first question she usually asks her clients, “Are you text ready?” With her question she shows that she expects the clients to have done much of their planning when they come to her.

As a first step, we often focus on the client’s expectations for the site; customer experience, business and sales goals for the site and who will update the content. My colleague’s focus on “Do you have content?” is also one of our primary questions.

Planning pays off

Many of our clients want a website and they want it fast. We hope to have them hit the pause button for a bit so that they follow a careful, thoughtful planning process. Part of the planning process is understanding what you want to communicate and why. Ask yourself, “Who will be reading this copy?”  The next question you should ask yourself is, “Who will be writing our website’s copy?”

Many of our clients feel they are so familiar with their products and services that they can write their own copy. Some do an excellent job of writing their own copy, but many have difficulties.

If you are planning to write your own copy, here are a few things to consider:

  1. In the past, how successful have you been writing copy for your company newsletter or advertising? If you’ve struggled in the past, you may continue to struggle when taking on developing website content.
  2. Do you have the time? Time spent writing is time spent away from management, sales or doing the work you are most frequently paid to do.
  3. Do you know the core points you wish to make?
  4. Will your team members or staff help you write the copy?
  5. Do you have insights from your sales team to inform you of what customers are looking for?
  6. Have you researched your competitors to understand how to differentiate your company?
  7. Do you know what keywords are important to include so that you build in SEO from the start?

Some customers may balk at paying a professional copywriter for their services, but a professional is held accountable for their abilities and time. Instead of thinking you can just write something during your weekends, then struggling to write and ending up mad with yourself, use a professional copywriter. The expense is worth every penny.

Your website: Make it work for you!

There are many things you can do to make your business’s website work for you rather than against you. An article from American Express OpenForum shares several key tactics that will help you makeover your website from a static brochure web site to a customer-centric lead generating platform.

“Your website is a huge budget-friendly untapped resource that you’ve been ignoring for too long. Maybe you haven’t had the time to invest or maybe you’re just convinced that your customers don’t use your website to make their buying decisions because your product is so technical.”

We know the following things must be in place for a website to be a good asset for your company:

  1. Visually Interesting Design: Not all websites are graphically interesting. Some sites try to cram too much information on a page, leaving no clear path for your eyes. Spend some time understanding what makes for an intriguing site or hire a qualified web designer. If you are on a limited budget, you can use templates.
  2. Clear Navigation & Consistent User-Interface: Is the “Home” tab or button in the same place on every page? Do some top-level items contain content and some not? Your website users have the right to expect a consistent experience without having to figure out where things are.
  3. A Content Management System (CMS): Ability to modify content or add pages as needed. We use open source software. It’s now the most preferred CMS in the world.
  4. Social Sharing Tools: 65% of Americans are active in social media. For many businesses, it is a great way to keep up with customers.
  5. Customer-centric & Intriguing Content: It’s not all about you all the time. Really. It’s about your customers. Write your content to address their needs and help them understand how your services will solve them.
  6. Conversion Forms: Sign-up now and receive…You’ve seen them on many sites, but they are great at causing prospective customers to provide their contact information allowing you to follow up with them.
  7. A Blog: Your blog must be part of your website. Integrated within the site and it must be updated regularly.

And if you want to talk over any of these ideas, we’ll gladly provide an analysis of your current website and help you comprehend how the 9 recommendations in the article can improve your business to business website.

Go read the other 9 tips that can tell you How To Transform Your B2B Website Into A Customer Magnet : Technology :: American Express OPEN Forum.