How to make your company website rise above the competition

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It goes without saying that websites play a crucial role for SMBs that may not have huge marketing budgets.

A well-designed and customer-friendly site can be a SMB’s most powerful marketing and sales tool. But there are many examples of SMB websites that have obvious flaws. I would suggest the leading culprits include:

  • Homepages that are cluttered and do a bad job of articulated what a company is offering.
  • About pages, which are a confusing mash-up of product information, culture and history. To make matters worse, many About pages have little or no information about the people involved in the business.
  • Contact pages that make it difficult to make contact. Classic mistakes include email options that fire up someone email client rather than using a simple form.

Given its importance, the $64,000 question is what should be featured on an SMB’s website? Are there key ingredients that absolutely, positively have to be there? If so, what should they be?

Must-Haves for your Company Site

At the top of list is clear messaging on the homepage that makes it easy for a potential customer, partner, employee or investor to quickly understand what a company does, the value of its product, and who is being served.

According to research by Missouri University of Science and Technology, it takes less than two-tenths of a second to create a first impression, and about 2.6 seconds for a person’s eye to land on the area that makes the biggest impression.

I’m also a big advocate of putting the spotlight on benefits so people understand the value of what is being delivered – aka what’s in it for me? Benefits should be prominently displayed on the home page, as well as a “Benefits” or “How it Works” page (which play the same role).

It is important to highlight benefits because they talk to the needs of customers who wants to be more efficient, productive, profitable, etc.

Another critical element, which should appear on all pages on a website, is a call to action that tells people what to do next. It could be asking for a demo, downloading a whitepaper, purchasing a product or registering for a service.

The reality is people are lazy online so a company website needs to be designed so it is easy to discover information and take an action. Otherwise, it is like asking people to go on a trip with a map or direction. There is a high likelihood they will get lost or give up.

A couple of good examples of well-designed homepages are Pipedrive (www.pipedrive.com) and Pocket.com (www.getpocket.com). It is easy to grasp what these companies are offering, and what they want you to do next. And they are well designed.

Depending on the product, a video can also play an important role in educating target audiences about your product. The most effective are 60 to 90 seconds, and they can be animated or live-action.

The common denominator is they make it easy for people to see the product and whether it is a good fit. A high profile examples of a great video was created by Dollar Shave Club.

Personally, I think “About” pages are critical, although as I mentioned earlier, they are often not executed very well. A good “About” page has the following elements: a corporate overview and history, key executives, testimonials and contact information. It can also include photos and a video. Be clear about your company and its history. Vague About pages send a message that you as an executive aren’t even clear on your company’s services.

For potential customers, the combination of a strong homepage and an informative About page can be an effective one-two punch to drive them into the sales or consideration funnel.

For companies that promote their prices, a user-friendly and informative pricing page is also a valuable asset. A great example of a company with a fantastic pricing page is Buzzsumo (https://app.buzzsumo.com/account/plans), which offers information about its packages, and the type of customer who should use them.

Last, but not least, a website should have an accessible “Contact Us” page that offers a variety of options to touch base – telephone, email, social media and a physical address. The reality is different people want to get in contact in different ways. Clever Bird is an example of a good but simple Contact page. And avoid how Salesforce structures their website, with not a Contact Us page or link to be found.

At the end of the day, a powerful website makes it easy for someone to understand what a company does, discover information to educate themselves, and have clear steps on what to do next. It is a simple “recipe” for success.

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Mark Evans

Mark Evans

Mark Evans help startups and fast-growing companies tell better stories (aka marketing). His strength is delivering “foundational” strategic and tactical services, specifically core messaging, brand positioning, marketing strategies and content creation. Find him via his blog
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