Having a website is a necessity for your company in today’s digital world. Having an effective web presence is critical to your success as your customers now see your website as a virtual sales call. Customers, including architects, builders, contractors and others, will spend a lot of time on your site before they decide whether or not to contact you.
Your website can no longer just be an online catalog. Your website is not something you simply update and check off your to-do list. Your website needs to be a living breathing entity that is frequently updated to keep people coming back.
To help you improve the effectiveness of your website, Zach Williams, from Venveo, and I created a list of the 10 most common mistakes we see in building materials companies websites. Chances are your competition is also making many of these mistakes. If you improve your site, you will probably have a competitive advantage.
If budgets are a problem, many of these recommendations do not require you to invest in a new website. You can make many of these updates yourself at little or no cost.
1. Content is Too Often About You and Not Your Customer.
Cut back on the meaningless, “We’re the best, the biggest, blah blah blah stuff.” It’s not about you; it’s about your customer. Think less about we and more about them. Keep Your Content Relevant to Your Customers. Make sure your website content addresses your client’s needs.
For example, content aimed at architects, builders, or contractors, should focus on helping them solve problems with a project or helping them find which of your products would best complete a project. Content aimed at distributors, dealers, or big box stores should focus on the product descriptions that will enable them to make their distribution buying decisions.
2. Too Much Copy.
Keep text to a minimum. Website text is often too much “tell me” and not enough “show me.” When you design the content for your home page, for example, it is important to think about what a visitor to your website is looking for at that moment. Your home page should clearly communicate, “This is the site for me, I’m going to spend more time here.”
Recent research indicates that human attention spans are now under 10 seconds which means that you need to keep your home page or landing page as brief as possible. Save your long content for pages that go deeper into solving your visitor’s problems.
3. Not Enough Visuals and Video.
Studies indicate that online visitors prefer seeing an image or watching a video over reading. To keep visitors on your site, add more images and videos such how-to-installation videos, product demos, a video that explains the science behind your product or a customer testimonial. The longer visitors stay in those first few minutes, the greater the chances that they will stay on your site instead of moving to your competitor’s site.
4. Too Many Choices With No Guidance.
Your customers are looking for the differences between one of your products and another. Too many building materials manufacturers don’t do a good job of making it easy to understand the differences between their products. If a customer can’t get the information they need quickly, they will look for another site to get the answers. If you offer 12 different models or options, tell people the best use for each. Don’t assume they know what you know.
5. Confusing Navigation.
Too many building materials websites are designed from how the manufacturer thinks the site should be navigated and not the way the customer actually wants to use it. If your website is difficult to navigate, you will lose potential customers to an easier-to-navigate competitor’s site. Don’t make them think about where you have hidden what they need.
They should not have to make too many clicks before they land on the appropriate page. Each drop-down menu should have no more than five items. The fewer the better. The next time you redesign your site, sit with customers and have them show you what they like and don’t like about your site and your competitors. You should also ask them about what are the best building materials websites and why.
6. Dysfunctional Search Function.
There’s nothing more frustrating than entering search terms into a search box and getting back information unrelated to your search. Make sure your site’s search function is relevant to the questions visitors will ask about your products.
7. Ignoring Your Audience.
Know who your audience segments are and make your site accessible to all of them. For example, have a sub-menu specifically for builders, architects, and contractors while another sub-menu addresses pages specifically intended for homeowners and other customers.
8. No Calls to Action.
Have a menu item that speaks to how a customer buys your product or receives a sample; how they receive literature about your products; how to get a representative to call them. Effective calls to action also solicit information from the visitor.
For example, a request to receive your company’s newsletter will also provide the contact information for that visitor. Keep it simple. If you ask for too much information, you will scare them off. Only ask what you need to contact them again — and coincidentally provide lead information for future marketing purposes.
9. Just an Online Catalog.
Use your website to build your reputation. Start a blog or have someone write a white paper on a particular topic. These inbound marketing measures can help you build a reputation as an expert in the topics that are important for people who buy your products. Even a relatively static website can have a blog or resource button to read an important white paper. Make your website your 24/7 sales channel.
10. Not Mobile Friendly.
Your customers visit online businesses more often through their mobile devices rather than traditional computers. You want your website to stay relevant to search engines like Google, who are giving higher rankings to mobile-friendly websites. A surprising number of building materials websites are not mobile friendly.
Finally, make a strong commitment to your website. Creating a website is not a “one and done” concept. You will need to spend time money to keep your website current with updated content. You will want to make it responsive to changes in the way people search online.
Clients frequently tell me they don’t have the time or money to devote to their websites. They see it as something that has to be added to their budgets or that they need to add more people. I frequently find that they are spending too much time and money on old school marketing efforts that they have always done and can’t imagine not doing. That’s where the time and money is.
Every day you don’t give your online efforts a priority over everything else is another day that you are slipping further behind.
If you would like to discuss how to improve your online marketing or other ways to grow your sales, please contact Zach at Venveo or Mark at Whizard Strategy. We look forward to talking with you about how we can help you make your business grow.