4 Website Content Fails (And How To Avoid Them)

Your website can be your best asset or worst enemy. Are you making these website mistakes that could lose customers?
December 17, 2013

There are more ways than ever to promote your business. Social media allows for nearly unlimited updating, content sharing and engagement. Email campaigns, newsletters and blogs enable your business to communicate targeted messages and promote your company’s unique value proposition. And there are a dozen surefire offline approaches to reach targeted audiences and drive leads and sales, too.

But don't forget the most important thing: Every company needs a strong website, where you can promote your vision, tell your story and allow your brand to come to life. Your website can be your business’s best friend or its worst enemy. If you're committing these common website content fails, yours is likely the latter.

Too Much Copy

The best Web copy is straightforward and concise. It leaves readers wanting more. Get to your point quickly and then move on to what you want to communicate next. The most valuable commodity for most busy businesspeople (or consumers) is time, so make your copy compelling and persuasive.

Paint a picture of your business with broad strokes. Don’t over-explain; if it’s taking you too many words to make a point, you need to simplify your message. Use short paragraphs and punchy copy. Site visitors should immediately get what your company does, what products or services it sells and why you’re as awesome as you are. If they aren’t sold within 15 seconds of doing a quick scroll down your site, you’re missing out on a great first impression and very likely an easy conversion.

Failure To Speak To Your Targets

Waxing poetic about your world-class team and using words like “innovation” will not endear your company to prospects or spark their imagination. By speaking too much about yourself, you’re neglecting to speak to the people who have come to your website. Communicate how you can help them instead.

Make it clear to your target what it is you do and why they should care. If your company provides tech solutions to nonprofits, your headline should make this clear in 10 words or less. Your copy should motivate prospects to keep reading and include calls to action. Sell, don’t tell.

Take the following two company headlines. Each offers the reader a general business description—but the tone and persuasive message of each could not be more different. One tells; the other sells.

  • Company A makes it easy to create and manage online payments for your small business.
  • Use Company B. See your online payments explode.

Which company would compel you to learn more?

Not Having a Difference-Maker

Telling prospective customers that you’re better than the rest but not demonstrating why is a poor sales approach. Your website is where prospects expect to get specific information about what you do and how you do it. If there is still uncertainty about how you stand apart from the competition after a prospect has reviewed your site, you haven’t done your job.

Difference-makers come in many forms. What makes your approach to the customer unique? How do you achieve superior results, make a client’s life easier or solve a problem more effectively? What accomplishments make you shine?

One of the easiest ways to differentiate yourself and show off successes are through case studies. Use them to illustrate your core competencies and highlight success stories. While they’re usually copy-driven, more and more businesses are using video case studies—they’ll add to the media texture of your site and provide a personal touch to your business case. Video cases are a good shareable item to spread the gospel of your business.

Lack Of Social Media Integration

By now you should know the importance of social media links and integration (both for aesthetics and for SEO optimization). Promote your social presence, ask people to follow you on Twitter and Instagram (or like you on Facebook and to follow your pinboard). If you’re able, provide an incentive to get people to take that extra step. But above all, make sure your social media integration is visible and prominent on your site.

If you live in the B2B world and many of your customers are older, you may think that social media is a sideshow for your more focused marketing messaging and activities. Actually, that's not what statistics are showing.

The fastest-growing demographic on Twitter is 50 to 65 year olds—many of whom have been on the sidelines for the past five plus years and are eager to catch up on the latest online trends. Social media in all of its forms drives business. Give it the consideration and respect it deserves, and it will help drive yours.

Have you built a successful website? What would you add to this list? Share with the community in the comments below.

Brendan Mangus is Principal Consultant at Colorwheel Media Consulting, a new breed of tech consultants specializing in helping early and mid-stage startups refine their product, define and grow their market and community and execute their outreach and go-to-market strategy. He is also a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs.

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