Today, it no longer takes a team of expensive engineers to build and maintain your website. Whether you're in the process of building an MVP or you've been running a business for years, you can learn how to create a custom website in just a few hours. What should you put on your website? Is a blog important? Are analytics too far down the line?
Below, we'll describe some of the most important features for your business website and give you tips on how to optimize each to drive retention and conversion.
1. Make your homepage stand out
Think of your homepage as the first impression you would make on a blind date. What that user sees on a homepage can make or break their interest in your product or company.
Now you probably don’t need us to tell you that your homepage must be well-designed and eye-catching (more on how to do that here), but you should also pay attention to the content that goes on it.
Specifically, your homepage needs to concisely communicate the reason why someone is visiting your website and what action they should take when they're on it. Let’s take MailChimp’s website, for example. The first words we see are in a headline that tells us what we want to do and what that will accomplish for us.
Then, right below them, is a clear CTA button. The scroll-down menu then provides more detail about automation, sales, etc. But remember: The headline needs to speak directly to the site visitor. It’s not about what you want. It’s about what your users need.
2. Build an engaging Contact Us page
For many businesses, the Contact Us page is an afterthought — the page that gets the least design love and attention to detail. After all, some might think, how much can you do with a phone number and/or email address?
This assumption is a huge, reductive mistake that displays a lack of awareness of your customer’s journey.
In fact, if you think about it, the Contact Us page is the most intent-driven page on your entire website. Very few people get there by just browsing. Most people visit a contact page because they aim to engage with your company by asking a question. Now, if you think about the Contact Us page this way, would you ever want to make it harder for someone to engage with your company?
Probably not. So how do you make the information on your contact page easy to access, and how can you induce engagement there? By filling it with CTAs and other buttons and widgets that give users multiple points of contact.
For example, in addition to your full business address and phone number (for transparency), include a call or email-back widget. These allow customers to have a human being call them without being put on hold. Extra points if your CTA to use the widget explains that benefit.
Similarly, if customers want help instantly, place a live chat box on your Contact Us page. Finally, create a clear email CTA so customers can reach you on their own time. In your CTA for this, concisely state that all emails are read by you or a customer service representative. The overall goal of your Contact page is to create bold CTAs that make it easy for web visitors and customers to reach you and feel that they’re able to speak to an actual person without waiting.
3. Understand the benefits of the blog page
It’s easy to forgo having a blog. If you’re running an early-stage company, for instance, your time is most likely monopolized by building your product and defining and refining new customers.
And while it’s easy to place a blog on the backburner until you gain more traction, you’re doing yourself a disservice by neglecting it.
In most cases, customers don’t magically arrive on a business’s website. Instead, they use search engines to help them find the information they’re looking for. When they find that information, they don’t miraculously transport themselves to a check-out page. They click around, seeking various validation and engagement points.
During this journey, they’re assisted by the Blog, also-known-as the marketing wizard.
First, the blog makes sure that people get to a website. Keyword-rich pages, like blogs, make it easier for search engine algorithms to notice and index certain important terms on your website. If you make inventory software for small businesses, for instance, you’d want to create some helpful content around this topic with the key terms that someone looking for that software might be inclined to search for.
Now, your primary job doesn’t have to publishing, nor should you keyword-spam (Google will penalize you for this). But by posting some relevant content on your blog, you will be able to introduce yourself to both search engine bots and customers, the latter of whom seek validation that you’re a subject matter expert.
This last point — validation — is especially important. Remember: Visitors don’t come to your site and ask “How can I give you my money.” You need to give customers information that helps them make a decision and establishes your credibility in the field. If people don’t know your name, having a few blog posts you’ve written about your product and field will communicate to potential customers that you understand their needs and are able to solve their problems.
4. Newsletter sign-up/Analytics
You probably know a few of the benefits of analytics and email by now (reaching, converting, and measuring existing customers — just to name a few), but what you might not know is that it doesn’t take an expert engineer or expensive consultants to bake them into your website. In fact, you can seamlessly integrate both into your MVP’s or existing business’s site by using Mailchimp and Google Analytics.
Once you’ve added them into the mix, you can optimize each. In your email newsletter, for instance, try segmenting your list by who your customers are and what they might be interested in. Going back to the inventory software example, an online clothing retailer will have different needs than food startups. Then, in Google Analytics, hone in on the customer journey and customer intent tool. These can give you a close look at how your users move around your site and take specific actions.