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Nine mistakes to avoid on your website

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I’ve just reviewed a website for a new training consultancy business which a friend is setting up. It’s amazing how many common mistakes new professional advisers make with their first business website.

1. Style over substance

Flash websites look great, but are generally lousy for search engine optimisation (SEO). Search engines are a great way for your business to be found by people looking for your services. If you need convincing about the power of good SEO, we receive about one enquiry a week about using our services, courtesy of our work on SEO.

It doesn’t matter how great your site looks if you can’t be found on the web, or your web copy doesn’t showcase your credentials or reasons why people should contact you.

2. No contact details on the home page

Make it simple for people to contact you. Always include a landline phone number, as many people don’t like calling a mobile phone, and an e-mail address for those who prefer to make contact via e-mail.

3. Muddling up “I and “we”

There is no problem in using “I” or “we” or “us” on your website, just don’t mix them up. So if you decide to be “we”, make sure you have an “our team” page with more than just you featured on the page.

4. No testimonials or case studies

Credibility is the difference between why someone will pick up the phone to talk to you and why they’ll click through to another website. Any website visitor who has clicked through to your website will want to be reassured that you can actually do what you promise to do.

Ideally on every page you should have clearly displayed client testimonials and case studies of the work that you have completed for clients.

5. Selling features rather than benefits

Take a look at any soft skills training provider and they will all offer a selection of the following services: commercial skills development, management skills development, leadership skills development, personal coaching and team coaching.

So how is a potential client meant to choose who to call? You need to communicate how you add value to your clients, and what sets you apart from the rest of your competitors. (In case you are wondering, we work with professional advisors to help them achieve better business results for less effort!)

6. No mailing list sign-up box

A visitor to your website is the start of a relationship with a potential new client. You need to make sure that if they like what you’re saying, you have permission to stay in contact. Offer something of value to your website visitor in return for them signing up.

On a personal level, I have found that over 90 per cent of seemingly “random” enquiries about using my services have come from someone on my mailing list. These are people who I have contacted from time to time with either our fortnightly efficiency tip or the monthly newsletter. More importantly, these are the people who are most likely to sign up to one of our teleseminars or online training products.

7. Too much text

Many visitors to your website will be idly browsing. Therefore, you need to make sure the text is succinct and to the point, and your major selling points are easily picked out. This means key messages need to be “above the fold”, i.e. in the top part of the screen, and you must have some clear space on your website, to allow the eye to see client testimonials and other credibility building pieces of content.

8. No professionally taken photo

People want to work with people, and are keen to see the person behind the company. A photo of you in your garden or at a friend’s wedding is normally not suitable. You need a high quality, professional looking head and shoulders shot.

9. No call to action

You need to give your website visitors something to do after visiting your site. I’m guessing that is probably something along the lines of “get in touch with us”.

Heather Townsend, Britain’s queen of networking, is the founder of The Efficiency Coach, a company that helps professionals achieve better business results for less effort. Follow her Joined Up Networking blog for more useful tips and tricks. She has just been commissioned to write the FT Guide to Business Networking.

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