8 More Website Mistakes Contractors Commonly Make
Originally published: 03.01.11 by Rich Friedel
Think of your customer — not yourself or your company.
Last month I wrote about eight mistakes that I commonly see on contractors’ websites. (View this article at HVACR Business’ digital edition archive, www.hvacrbusiness. com.) Here are eight more mistakes, for a total of 16 mistakes to avoid or correct on your website.
Mistake 9: No tools that help visitors to overcome their skepticism.
Consumers are extremely skeptical. Specifically, we’re taught to be skeptical of anyone selling anything. On the Internet, skepticism is even higher. Your biggest hurdle to making an online conversion is overcoming your visitor’s skepticism.
The following elements will increase your credibility and instill a sense of trust and believability in prospects:
- Provide full contact information at the bottom of each web page. On contractors’ pages, I frequently see a phone number for each area and even what area they service. However, I won’t see a street address. What would a skeptical visitor think about a business that’s not willing to say where it is located? They would be more skeptical.
- Include an “About Us” page. My “About Me” page is one of the highest trafficked pages on any of my websites. Why? Because people are always curious to know who you are. Having an “About Us” page tells your visitor that you have no problem revealing yourself and that you have nothing to hide.
- Include photos of your brick-and mortar site. If you have a brick-and mortar store or office, it shows that you really do have a real business. Just knowing that you do business in an office building breeds credibility. No one wants to get ripped off in a fly-by-night deal, and the picture of your office shows that you’re not going anywhere soon.
- Include testimonials. Displaying an endorsement from a customer and using pictures will give a face to your words.
- Repeat names of reputable suppliers. I know all of us use products from reputable companies — just use their credibility to your advantage.
- Provide a solid guarantee. One of the fears online consumers have is not being able to get their money back if something goes wrong. Providing a strong guarantee tells your visitor that you stand behind your product and that there is little risk in purchasing your product or service.
- Provide a picture of yourself and your staff. People don’t buy from businesses, and businesses don’t buy from businesses. People buy from people, and people who work for businesses buy from people who work for businesses. The more you can include about you and your credentials and successes, the more people will feel good about doing business with you.
- Provide case studies with successful results. People want to know how you can help them solve their own unique problems. If they see that you’ve helped someone else out that had the same (or similar) problem with successful results, it proves that you can help them as well. Use a problem/solution/results format to present your case study.
Mistake 10: Content focused on only you and your business — not on solving your prospects’ problems.
NEWSFLASH! No one cares about you or any of your awards. All they care about is how you can help them solve their problems.
I see this mistake time and again — website owners focusing all their content on their company and how good they think they are. The moment you start to understand that people don’t care about you, and that what they really care about is how you can solve their problem, your sales will begin to increase.
Why? Because, generally speaking, people only care about themselves! Although you might find that hard to hear, it’s true. (Why do you think capitalism works?)
I’m all about education-based marketing, so education is infused in these tactics, which you can implement to make your prospects’ self-interest work for you rather than against you:
- State your prospect’s problem; then agitate it. Make them feel anxious!
Step 1 — Strangely, people feel better when others suffer anguish from the same problem(s) that they do. They feel that there is someone else out there who really understands them. So start your copy by confirming their feelings of anguish so that they know that you know what they’re going through.
Step 2 — Now that you have confirmed their feelings of anguish, rub it in by making them feel worse. You see, people usually won’t do anything about a problem unless they feel a great amount of pain.
To do this, explain the results of the problem. Let me show you what I mean: Are you sick of spending money on advertising that doesn’t get the results you needed? Do you have a website that seems to just cost you money and not bring in income? I know how you feel. I, too, have suffered from being promised results; but all I got was excuses. I was told — like you — that my business needed a website, and had one built only to see no real ROI.
- Address each potential objection in your copy and an FAQ area.
If you’ve sold your product or service for a while, you’ve probably heard all the objections that your prospects could give. List any and all objections and address the most common ones in your copy.
Create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section on your site to address potential objections. Envision yourself selling your product or service in person, and just write down your answers. You might even want to record yourself as you stand in front of your product and verbally address each objection — and then transcribe your recording.
- Do the “I & We” test.
Read your copy and circle every time the words “I” or “we” are used. Now go back and rewrite the sentence using the word “you” or “your.”
Bad: “We have won multiple industry awards for our customer service.”
Good: “You will receive the personal attention you require and deserve from a team of professionals that care about you and your specific needs.”
Mistake 11: Links, banners, and pop-ups that pull your visitors away from your offer.
Over-using links, banners, and popups can distract visitors and stop them from acting on your “MWR” (Most Wanted Response). However, that doesn’t mean you should do away with them completely. Here are a few hints to using links, banners, and pop-ups so that their distraction is minimal.
- Put the resource links that you’ve swapped with other sites on one page. Don’t hide the page (to me that’s unethical), but don’t make it pronounced either. I’ve seen sites that say, “Visit our partners,” which is O.K. if you’re promoting affiliate programs, but it’s a free invitation to leave your site if it’s not. As I said before, you want to avoid anything that causes your visitor to leave your site.
- Don’t put any links or banners on your sales pages, only on your content pages. Your content pages should drive your visitors to your sales pages. Remember, each of your “pathways” should lead to a sales page, and then to a closing page. It’s O.K. to have links on your content pages, but you shouldn’t include anything that will distract your visitor from buying once they’ve made it to your sales page.
- Try to use pop-unders or exit popups instead of entrance pop-ups. Pop-unders and exit pop-ups are presented upon leaving a site. This means that a visitor has already seen or done what they wanted to do on your site and only then are they presented with another offer. If you do use an entrance popup, use a program that limits the popup to only one pop.
- Use “fake banners” and text links to drive visitors to your sales page. Text links have higher conversion ratios than banners or pop-ups.
Mistake 12: Slow-loading site.
Even with today’s broadband systems, you still have to watch the load time on your pages. Your visitor will give your site no more than 10 seconds (sometimes less) to appear. If it doesn’t, they’re gone. With all the new advances in graphics, it’s hard to resist the temptation to place a lot of graphics that slow down your site. Here’s a myth: Having video on your site slows it down. Wrong! It’s large pictures and files that auto open that slow down loading sites, such as flash intros and videos that AUTO START. Don’t do it.
Mistake 13: No tracking of website metrics.
You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Only through tweaking, testing, and measuring will you be able to improve your website’s effectiveness. The following are just a few metrics that you need to measure the effectiveness of your site. Think of them as the “vital signs” of your website. Not only do the following metrics help you improve your website, but they also let you know how much you should be willing to spend on advertising.
- Sell-through or conversion rate. Your conversion rate is measured by taking the number of visitors to your site, and dividing it by the number of visitors that purchased from you.
- Visitor value. Visitor value measures how much each unique visitor that comes to your site is worth to you.
- Opt-in signup rate. Your opt-in rate is the percentage of people that sign up (give you their email address) when they visit your site.
- Traffic stats. Traffic stats could consist of any number of metrics. However, knowing how many daily unique visitors came to your site is an important metric.
- Source of visitors. Knowing where your traffic came from is also important, especially if they were driven to your site through a paid promotion. Your web stats package should be able to tell you which search engines your visitor originated from, in addition to the URLs of the websites your visitors came from.
- Average visitor time. Knowing how much time your visitor spent on a certain webpage this lets you know to what degree your visitor finds your site interesting. It can also tell you approximately where your visitors are jumping off. This metric is important to know for each webpage. You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Only through tweaking, testing, and measuring
- Most-viewed pages. Knowing which of your web pages are popular and which ones aren’t will tell you where your visitor’s interests lie. How well your visitor stays on their pathway to the closing page, and what web-pages should be dropped (or tweaked).
With the metrics that I just mentioned, you’ll be able to answer several key questions about your site’s performance. But perhaps the most important is, “How much is each unique visitor worth to me?”
This key metric will drive all your decisions about how much you can spend to profitably acquire new customers.
Mistake 14: No focus on a niche.
In the offline world there is an old saying: “If everyone is your target market, no one is your customer.” What this means is that if you try to target a large segment, you’ll appeal to nobody in particular. The most important question is still the same on or off the web: Why did you choose this niche? Maybe one of these answers fits you:
- The tighter you focus the niche, the more you can specialize your content. Example: Are we addressing service, replacement, upgrade for energy savings, or adding A/C
- Because you have 30 years as a contractor in this niche, which should give you solid credibility.
- There are a lot of homeowners in this geographical area with homes older than 10 years.
- This demographic: Homeowners usually have the money to invest.
- Most of these homeowners are paying high energy bills.
- I can increase both my service base and replacement sales.
Mistake 15: The wrong domain name.
When discussing why some retailers are so successful, you’ll often hear the phrase, “Location, Location, Location.”
If you’ve got a great location, people can find you easier, and you’ll get more exposure. If your store is hidden away in some obscure neighborhood, the chances of you being a success are slim.
It’s no different online, and it all starts with having a good domain name. The No. 1 rule when getting a domain name is that the closer the domain name to your business name — with no hyphens or abbreviation — the more likely you are to be found by a customer surfing the Internet. Here are some common domain name mistakes and tips on how to choose a correct domain name. There are still a lot of great domain names available. With some creativity and research, you can land yourself a great name.
- Using an extension other than a “.com.” There are several top level domain extensions such as .org, .gov, .net, .info, .biz, .us, .co.uk, and .cc. The .com was the first extension to become popular and today — because of its popularity — it’s the first domain that people will use to find your company. It’s better to have a less-than-desirable name with a .com extension than to have a great name that is a .biz, or .info.
- Using hyphens in your domain. Hyphens are used to separate words in some domain names, but they also confuse people because most Internet users are not expecting hyphens in a domain name.
- Using unnatural abbreviations. Many times people will want to abbreviate their business name to use as their website address. When you abbreviate your business name, you inject an element of confusion. It’s better to just spell out your entire business name in your domain name than to abbreviate, even if your name is long.
- Not using a keyword in your domain name. The search engines will match the keyword in the domain to the title of the page and give it a higher ranking.
- Not making the domain name easy to remember. Let’s suppose your business name is taken. What will be your next move? Mine would be to find a catchy phrase that people will remember easily. You want to be able to just quickly shout out your domain and have someone understand it and remember it. A good test is if you can do a radio commercial and give out your domain name and have it be remembered, it’s more than likely a good name. If not, change it.
Mistake 16: Myopia
Myopia has two meanings:
1. A vision defect in which objects are seen distinctly only when near to the eye.
2. Lack of foresight.
I’m talking about No. 2: Not taking time to develop a plan that has a target for results. If your vision is in your head and not written down in a plan for action, then you’re just running by the seat of your pants.
You’ve heard this before: “If you fail to plan, you already have a plan, and that plan is to fail.”
Rich Friedel is the former owner and general manager of Total Comfort Heating & Cooling Inc. He has more than 30 years of experience as an owner in the HVACR industry, starting as a helper for his father. Currently, he shares his insights on marketing through training and speaking. His company is Practical Marketing Solutions, www.practicalmarketingsolutions.com.
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