In 1923, Daniel Starch wrote a famous essay called The Principles of Advertising.
An advertisement," he wrote, "to be successful (a) must be seen, (b) must be read, (c) must be believed, (d) must be remembered, and (e) must be acted upon.
At the time, Starch was a visionary in the field of ads, and many of his essay points still ring true today, even in the digital world.
Your website is your advertisement to all passer-bys. Just like an ad in a local magazine or newspaper, if it sucks, it won't be remembered, and it won't be acted upon.
Let's dissect this a bit and see how you can improve your overall website ROI and attain website awesomeness.
A website, to be successful, must be seen.
Ok here's the most obvious and overstated cliche in the SEO business - Build it and they won't come. It's true - simply putting up a website because you think you need to, or because your competitors are won't get you traffic. It's like putting a billboard up in the Mojave desert. Not many people are going to see it.
A good website isn't cheap. In order for you to start recouping some of your costs related to getting it going, you really need customers (warm leads) that are interested in what you're offering. Hence the need for SEO.
Optimizing your website, providing great content, and gaining links from other sites is the secret formula to getting to the top of the search engines. And at the top (page one for a search) is where most of your traffic is going to come from.
It's like moving that billboard from the desert to a busy intersection.
Even better, if you apply SEO long term, its like moving that billboard to a busy intersection full of cars (that are full of people) that only want your product/service. The leads get warmer and warmer with each passing month.
A website, to be successful, must be read.
Well isn't that a kick in the pants. Getting customers to your website is just the first step. Once they're there, they've got to find something interesting and useful. They've got to find what they're looking for.
People are fickle, especially in the digital world. You've got just a few seconds of a customer's time to persuade them to stick around and read your content. A few seconds.
Even if you're pulling in some nice traffic, if your website design doesn't look professional, those visitors aren't going to hang around for long. Business is not just product, but it's also look and feel. People want to feel confident that who they're buying from is reputable and legitimate. They want images that instill confidence. They want colors that are easy on their eyes and create a warm and welcome feel. So you've got to have a website that looks good and encourages your visitors to read - which leads us to the next point.
A website, to be successful, must be believed.
There are 2 main requirements for a website to be believed:
Let's quickly reflect back on design again. Warm cuddly websites are more likely to get click-throughs then harsh ugly sites. Even if you're searching for something as manly as hunting apparel or auto parts, the more soothing and calm the layout and design, the better your conversion rate will be.
Obviously there are a few other issues in play here as well. Navigation needs to be simple. Branding needs to be consistent. Links need not be broken. Products need to have quality content.
Ah - content - the king of all things search. Content rules the Internet because of it's inherent value both to the visitor as well as to the search engines. Good quality content berths better rankings. It creates well-being. The better your content, the more your visitors will like what you say. They'll believe what you say is true (whether it is or not!).
I'm constantly surprised at the amount of local businesses that still advertise in local papers or online. They try to drive people to their website, but their website is dry and arid. They fall short of delivering the believe factor because they aren't giving their visitors quality content. And without it, there's no connection made. The sale is lost because of their barren wasteland.
A website, to be successful, must be remembered.
One of the biggest problems that I have with my clients is getting them to understand blogging. And even in the case where they understand why they need to do it, getting them to actually do it is an even more difficult task. Blogging isn't just about getting a sale. It's about providing value (it is, afterall, content). Writing about the top 7 reasons to vaccuum every Tuesday isn't necessarily going to produce sales. But it will produce a feeling of acceptance to your visitor.
Your visitor may not be looking to purchase a vaccuum cleaner from you today. But three months from now, when their vaccuum kicks the bucket, it's very possible that they'll remember your article. Or your logo. Or your URL.
It's very possible.
Situating yourself online as a subject matter expert can produce long term effects. People will parallel your articles with expert status. They'll assume (sometimes without further research) that you are the most knowledgeable person in the city when it comes to vaccuum cleaners. They won't even check the competition. They'll drive past 14 vaccuum cleaner stores to get to yours because of your silly Vaccuuming on Tuesday story.
They will, and they do. They remembered you - your branding - and then it's your sale to lose.
A website, to be successful, must be acted upon.
Lead a horse to water, and they may not drink. Lead a customer to your product, and they may not buy. Why?
Call to action (or a lack thereof).
Many, many, many websites fail to produce the results they've worked hard to get because of a simple disconnect in their system. Once a visitor reaches a product page, there should always, always, always be a call to action. Something that entices them to click to purchase. Or click to find out more. Or click to join your club. Or click to download your ebook.[wpob id="5"]
All of this work - SEO, quality content, beautiful design and branding can all be useless if the customer doesn't buy. They've got to act upon what you've provided to them. Don't drop the ball when you've done all this work to get the customer into the buying mood. You've set the stage, but forgot to pull up the curtain. The show is going on in full force, but they can't see it. What are they going to do?
They'll take all that information they've gleaned from you and use it to find your competitor (who happens to have the item online, ready for purchase). Don't do all this work, and then fall short. Have a strong call to action on every product page.
Daniel Starch was a pretty smart guy. He knocked it out of the park in 1923, and many people used his concepts to launch major brands into the mainstream. His principles, when applied to today's environment, still work.
Your website should be a revenue-generating machine. If it isn't, why not? Are you only doing two of the five items above? Is your billboard out in the desert somewhere, or is it next to a superhighway?