Creating a successful website experience is just as challenging for a garage based startup as it is for the goliath multinational organization. What both business entities have in common though – which levels the playing field – is that they both have the same screen size window of opportunity to reach and connect with customers. Whether that screen is mobile sized, tablet sized or a larger LCD screen, all website owners have a relatively equal chance (budget restraints considering) to connect with and convert customers by optimizing the use of that space with clever use of compelling text, graphics and video content.
For years, when we met with clients and performed our own “fiduciary benchmark illustration” (i.e. “FBI Report Card”) of how their sites were performing (conversion and rankings) relative to their competitors, I have to admit it was a fairly haphazard process. We had lots of different types of surveys and metrics we would be using during the analysis. It was and in many ways still is a complex process to help someone understand how to improve their website. One learns from experience and I hope to share this with you today.
What this article describes is an easy to remember framework for developing a dominant website experience that can maximize your site’s ability to convert prospects into leads and sales. I call this framework the “Big Tall Sandwich.” Get your ketchup ready as we dig in and build a compelling web sandwich together.
The first ingredient in the Big Tall Sandwich is three pieces of toasted white bread (it’s a double decker sandwich of course) that frame the ideal conversation you hope to start with new and even returning visitors to your website. When people land on your site the first time, you have to help them to orient themselves to see if they landed in the right place. At the most basic level, the first thing you want to do then is to make sure your visitors understand what it is that you do, sell or provide.
In a deli, the three layers of toasted white bread make it clear that you are looking at an oversized sandwich, and not a deli platter or just an ordinary sandwich. If you are looking for fruit soup, look elsewhere – odds are you are in the wrong place. The toast analogy sets the tone and boundaries for the website conversation about to commence. Anything you can do to solve the prospective customer’s problem is going to be contained inside the layers of sandwich – i.e. inside the content of your website.
We call this first ingredient of the “big tall sandwich” by its most simple connotation – WHAT DO WE DO. If you want to focus visitors’ attention on your brand offerings then be sure to not hide your unique selling propositions from plain view. The most highly recommended method for showcasing your site’s service and/or product offerings is to simply display them in a rotating image carousel with eye-catching headlines, eye-popping photos, and/or a drop down menu called products (or services or practice areas or what we do). You want to help the new visitor to quickly determine if your site deals with their problem, need or desire before they leave and go elsewhere.
If you can place your “WHAT WE DO content” in easily discoverable places, then you’ve met the first goal of connecting with a prospect and and can move them to the meat of your site’s sales funnel. If not, then their brief visit becomes another statistic in your Google Analytics bounce rates report. As an aside, it’s worth pointing out that anything important you want to convey better be above the fold of your page. If you assume people are scrolling through pages to see something poignant, then let’s just be clear that you need to catch Walter Matthau in the Bad News Bears scene where he teaches the kids what happens when they ASS U ME things. People don’t like to scroll. They don’t even like to read text much of the time.
Your next sandwich step is to start speaking your target audience’s language which means letting them know not just what you do, but WHO YOU DO IT FOR. This is the deli layer. Contrary to your instinctive reaction, “who you work with” is in many ways far more important than the commodity of what you sell, and therefore is really the meat of the entire online engagement process.
Who you service and sell to are the two primary questions that prospects ask themselves once they understand what you do. They want to understand your “industry expertise” because after passing through the first stage (what you do) they can take for granted that you have a solution to their needs.