Does Your Website Tell the Right Story?
“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou
When we think of good, well-designed and constructed narratives within a website’s framework, we don’t usually think of the little guys. We think of big-wig corporations, like Google or Facebook or Twitter. Contrary to popular belief, however, small businesses are not relegated to only sub-par websites for the rest of eternity because they can’t afford to hire a team of website designers like a corporation can. And because small businesses have a more home-grown nature, you can make your website narrative as personal to you as you’d like.
Essential Marketing Components of a Website
Your website should be a marketing tool in its own right. You can do the majority of your marketing outside of your website--through social media, fliers, or whatever else might suit you--but marketing through your website is how you convince people to stay there, as well as to hopefully buy what you’re trying to sell. When thinking about the marketing of your website, you really need to consider its performance, its narrative, and your customers above anything else.
The performance of your website is what can help you determine if your marketing strategy is effective or not. Whether you already have a website up but not happy with it or you’re just about to create your first website, performance analytics can help you out. In order to measure your website’s performance, you need to first decide what it is that you actually want the website to accomplish.
What are you trying to gain with your website marketing? Some of the more common answers are things like buys, clicks, or calls. Let’s go with these for a minute. Do you have a certain amount of profits you need to make to break even? Are you basing success on how many times your website has been visited? Are you trying to get people to call a certain number to use your services?
Whatever the case, the most effective way to measure your performance in any of these areas is to literally measure their outputs. For purchases, you would take a look at your total profits--or if you’re looking for more accurate data, the breakdown of products that were bought. Do they match what you were aiming for?
For clicks, you could search the Google analytics of your webpage to see how much traffic your website has received in a given timeframe, and to break that down, how many clicks it’s received. For calls, you would run a record of how many calls have come through.
Some of the most effective marketing is done through storytelling. If you already have a narrative in place, review it; if you’re currently working on building a website but you have a general idea of what you want your narrative to look like, still review it. When you’re selling something, your narrative is always about telling a story that evokes feelings. But when you’re creating your narrative, keep in mind that it’s not your feelings that are the most important, but the customers’.
While the product your selling is there to help you make the most money for your efforts, if you want to actually sell the product, you have to think about your customer. What do they want? What do they need? How can your product have a positive impact on their lives? If you can answer these questions, you’re halfway there for developing an effective marketing strategy.
Communicating an Effective Business Narrative
On a website, a narrative isn’t just about the words--but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t important! When you’re creating your business narrative, consider what you can do with a website that you might not be able to do with a sheet of paper. Words should be there, yes, but pictures, video, and audio can also play a really big role in how your narrative is understood and received.
The most effective way to build your business narrative via a website is to think about your website in terms of sections: above the fold and below the fold. The folds may vary depending on the device being used. A laptop web browser is probably going to have more above the fold than a mobile web browser, simply because of the striking difference in screen sizes. You’ll need to make sure that your website automatically adjusts the fold to get the same message and narrative across to different users.
Above the Fold
Anything someone can see before they begin scrolling on a website is considered “above the fold.” With all of the content that you include above the fold, you have roughly ten seconds to get an absolutely, hell yes from your customer. In most cases, the first thing they are going to see is a hero panel.
In that hero panel, you’ll have to include a combination of all of the most effective marketing strategies if you want to get your customer to stick around to hear the rest of what you have to say.
Tell them how much you’re about to help them, to change their life with your product. We all love anything that will make our lives a little easier. Make them want whatever it is you’re offering or selling. The last thing they should see above the fold is the number one thing you’re trying to sell--also known as the value proposition--so make sure that it is both easy to read and understand.
Below the Fold
Below the fold should be everything that really convinces your customers that your product is worth their money. Above the fold, you’re just trying to get their attention, but below the fold is where the real work happens. The bulk of your copy will be below the fold. Within it, your main goals are to plug your product, convince your customers that you are a legitimate company, and to finish it off with a call to action.
Making the Most of Your Copy
On average, people are only going to read about 20% of the copy on your website before closing out of it. If you want to grab their attention, there are a couple things you can do:
- Make your headline count. Or as we say here at Aiken House, make it sexy. Customers may click on any relevant link that appears under their search, but if you give them something to remember, they’re more likely to remember you.
- Balance the sentence length within your copy. Short, concise and succinct sentences can be compelling. But so can lengthier sentences that wind around a couple lines of your copy to spin together a story or an example that will really help your customers to understand what it is you’re trying to say. Finding the balance between these is a great way to keep your customers engaged with your copy.
Proving You’re a Legit Business
Some of the best ways to convince your audience that you are, indeed, a legitimate business are to include reviews, press coverage, and star ratings throughout your copy, as well as testimonials, the number of years you’ve been in business, and your total number of clients. When your customers look at these things, and they really are convincing, they’ll be more likely to trust you as a company--and therefore more likely to buy your product.
Experts recommend providing video testimonials if you can. When they’re able to both hear the words of people who can attest to your greatness and to see them, customers are that much more likely to be impressed by what you have to offer. If you can’t give them videos, however, there’s always the option of including direct quotes from previous customers as testimonials--with their permission of course! These will be nearly as convincing.
Including a Call to Action
The textbook way of including a call to action is to include at the very end of your copy. It should be the last thing your customers see before they either jump at the chance to buy your product or leave your website and never return--so make sure it’s a good one. Classic calls to action include phone numbers, emails, or links to pages where your customer can purchase the product you’re offering.
Making Your Website as Original as Possible
When you’re designing your website, the natural inclination is to take a look at what’s already been done and done successfully. Don’t. Before you do anything else write your narrative. While it usually escapes our notice, we’re all much more easily influenced by the things around us than we tend to think we are. Even if we don’t make a conscious decision to pull something from our competition’s website that we’ve liked, it’s still subject to pop up without our permission.
Write your narrative first because it’s the best way to ensure that your narrative is going to be all you. You want your narrative to be most aligned with yourself and your values, and if you succeed, you’ll succeed in making sure your customers know just what it is that you’re about.
Once you’ve written your narrative, then it’s time to check out the competition. The best suggestion we have is to open up Chrome incognito and search the intense keywords that users are most likely to be using when they’re looking for products within your market.
An incognito window is the best way to go about this because it will not apply anything that you search under it to your cache of searches you might perform in a regular window. You’re more likely to get the most organic results this way. Take a look at the results that pop up and see how they rank organically, as well as which companies are advertising under those keywords.
Check out their websites to see how other companies in your market design their narratives because this will, ultimately, help you figure out what is and isn’t going to work on your own website.
If the narrative is a skeleton, then the design is the makeup and clothes you put on the skeleton to make it appear more human. You want your website to be “human” in a sense, because that’s one of the best ways to appeal to your customers. Get in touch with their emotions, and you’ll have them wrapped around your finger. To start designing your website, think carefully about how you want to go about it.
Templates, customizable templates, and web designers you can hire are all great options for helping you design your website, but you need to figure out what works best for you. A template can be a good option because it’ll provide you with the relevant color schemes of your market, be functional, navigable, and all-around easy for your customers to use. The downside, however, is that it can, in some cases, be less “original.”
Customizable templates give you room for a little more originality, but they also require more effort on your part. If you’re looking for the optimal amount of originality--and originality that can be built around your narrative, your best bet might be to hire a web designer. This is going to be your most expensive option, so keep in mind what exactly you can afford, as well as what you have time for when you go to choose your design method.
If you can make your customers feel something, you’re on the right track to telling the right story about your company. This is the first step. Be authentic, be original, and be smart about your design, and you may just find some of your most loyal customers.