Just because you don’t sell products online doesn’t mean you don’t sell online. Many companies in the manufacturing sector have been slow to embrace the digital revolution because the way they’ve always sold seemed to be working just fine…but as you well know, that all changed in March 2020. While in the recent past, your best sales guy might have been able to win hearts and minds in the boardroom or your facility tour knocked your prospects’ socks off, these traditional ways of closing are at best on pause—if not gone forever.
Companies who pivot to selling in a virtual environment will be most successful in our new reality. There are many ways to do that (learn more in our recent webinar), but in this article, we’ll focus on a key sales agent for your business: your company’s website.
5 Features of a Successful Website
We know that revamping your website can seem like a daunting endeavor. But it’s important to remember that your company’s website will likely be the way you make your first impression on potential customers. So even if you’re not ready to consider a full-scale overhaul, these principles can help you position your business for success.
#1 – Your message is not all about you.
Have you ever been on a first date or met someone at an industry event who went on and on about themselves and didn’t take time to ask you a single question? Don’t let your company be “that guy” online. Keep your language focused on your audience by demonstrating that you understand their challenges, aspirations, and needs.
In his book Building A Storybrand, Donald Miller demonstrates how successful brands make their customer the hero of their own story, instead of making themselves out to be the white knight saving a damsel in distress. Miller recalls an example of a time when he helped a client who taught photography hone the headline on his website’s homepage. At first, his client tried all types of technical photography terms to show his expertise…without any luck. After delving deeper into what the audience really wanted, Miller and his client settled on this headline:
Take Those Great Pictures Where the Background is Blurry
Boom. The leads came pouring in. While this level of simplicity may not resonate with an engineering-minded audience, the concept still rings true: show you understand your audience’s needs and clarify your message.
#2 – Create clear paths to conversion.
Conversion means that a user on your website submitted a form with their email address and other personal information—such as to request a quote, download a white paper, or subscribe to your newsletter, to name a few.
Try to have only one call-to-action per page on your site so it’s clear to the user how to move forward in engaging with you.
The rule of thumb is that the more time users spend on your website, the more engaged they are with your content. And that’s a great thing! But think of it this way: your goal should also be to help your users exit your site as efficiently as possible—meaning, they found what they needed, contacted you, and went on with their day. Clear calls-to-action are critical to speeding up the journey your users take through your website.
#3 – List the problems you solve with your core services.
Customers who find you online will have one question in common: “Can this company help me?” Listing your core services and providing content about them will help your customers find the answer.
When describing your services, remembering to put them in the context of your customer’s experience is the key to forming a connection with them. Here are a few key points to cover when writing about your services:
- What types of customers find this service useful?
- What pain points does this service resolve? What’s at stake if I don’t use your service?
- What are the rational and emotional benefits of this service? In other words, what do I “get” when I use this service?
- Why should customers believe you?
Demonstrating your understanding of your customer’s situation and their needs this way will help create the same feeling of trust they get when your best sales guy walks into the boardroom. These warm fuzzies will certainly pave the way for a great conversation once you do finally get a chance to connect with your prospects…even if it is over Zoom.
#4 – Yep, it should be pretty, too.
Like it or not, looks matter online, and we’re not talking about Instagram. After all, you wouldn’t show up to a prospect meeting in your pajamas! Investing in a customized website can create an immersive experience that exudes the promise of your brand, but if you’re not ready to make the leap, you can still take some simple steps to polish your company’s online impression.
Use good-quality still images and video as much as possible throughout your site. A later generation iPhone or Android smartphone can take perfectly usable photos if you don’t have access to a large library of professional images. Just like user-oriented content, imagery helps create a more engaging online experience that will leave a positive impression on users.
Mobile-friendliness is also critical for a successful website. In 2015, Google famously began rewarding mobile-friendly websites in its search rankings, and in 2019, the portion of online searches from a mobile device surpassed those performed from a desktop.
#5 – Connect your website with your CRM.
Most potential customers aren’t ready to buy the first time they engage with you online, so it’s important to nurture the leads you gather from your website. Be sure the information from all of your form submissions makes it into your CRM software so your sales team can follow up via email. Even better, you can use software like MailChimp or Active Campaign to stay in touch with your prospects via email newsletters or automated drip campaigns. No matter how you do it, don’t let your leads grow cold!
Bottom line? DIY is better than DNAL (doing nothing at all).
Even if you’re planning a big website overhaul in the future, it’s never too early to improve what you already have in place to better communicate with your customers and prospects. We hope you find these best practices helpful! Or, if you’re looking for more in-depth advice on making your manufacturing company’s website (or marketing strategy, or brand) the best it can be, our team at goBRANDgo! would love to hear from you.