Is This Why Your Website Isn't Attracting The Clients You Want?
Dave Simon – Double Your Profits Consultancy
How to attract more clients
Professionals dislike talking bluntly about encouraging the right people to ask them to provide appropriate services in a timely and profitable fashion. They tend to put together adverts, leaflets and websites, and then wait hopefully...
But progress moves on.
Internet technology, particularly, is very fast-moving. In fact, the overall rate of technical progress is roughly doubling every decade now. So websites aren't working as well as they used to.
This means that crossing your fingers (do I hear you say, 'things aren't actually too bad at the moment'?) is likely to make you increasingly unattractive to the clients you want to help. Like any advert or leaflet, your website shapes the number and quality of new clients asking for your help.
People do value help from professionals
Clients of professional firms feel they are getting more value for their money than they used to. Research says so (it's from the USA, but the internet is now a global market-place).
That's nice, I think, BUT – it's because they are using the internet to search for professional services even more than they used to.
The Internet has changed the professional world
Years ago, we all learned to search for consumables and small things that could be posted to us. Now clients are researching us, the professionals, in exactly the same way. And it's no good standing on our pride – this is a relentless tidal change in public habit. It's not unlearnable!
So your website, which cost so much and took so much of your time to design, is now less effective than it used to be. This is partly because competition on the internet amongst professional service providers has increased. And it is also partly because the search engine companies have their rules changed to adapt to what customers want...
And it's still changing...even faster
Internet technology has expanded beyond websites and email – it now includes social media, maps, news and educational articles. And website design has changed, searching methods have moved on and research into customer psychology has improved.
The speed of your website host's connection can greatly affect your Google ranking (1). So can a few words in your content, and a few pieces of code in your html. And that's just the beginning...!
The speed of technological progress is clearly accelerating. This means that a small website, announcing your services and showing your team members is no longer enough. Both search engine and human visitors want more.
It needs to look up-to-date to searchers – otherwise they'll go elsewhere.
It needs to inform searchers about their problem – otherwise they won't stay long.
It needs to actively encourage contact – otherwise it is just a research tool for them.
So we need to catch up more often
Things get out of sync so quickly nowadays – special offers overlap, guarantees go out of date, temporary messages become permanent, and so on. It is no longer just a matter of updating your newsletters and team photos. You can so easily lose continuity – technical staff move on, website hosts move goal-posts, and competitors encourage client defection... and more.
The biggest danger is that potential clients won't even find your website in their internet searches. In that situation, it will only be visited by people who already know of you, but haven't used you yet. And that is a only a small percentage of the clients you could help.
Do you need to catch up NOW?
If your team feels your website isn't attracting the clients you want – fix it, quick!
As well as the speed of your website and all the search benefits the technical side brings, there is another factor to consider.
Websites that I call 'first generation' were worded as if they were posters. They were treated as a new sort of digital billboard. Big or small, their messages were descriptive. Essentially they were announcements.
Second generation websites are invitations. They are addressed more personally. They specify what the 'party' is – the opportunity that you might want to benefit from. And they make it very clear how you can RSVP.
This difference is a mindset thing. Strange to say, I still find national corporates who have recently upgraded their website who are still writing in announcement mode. It is just so distant and forbidding that hardly anyone will respond. And stranger still, some websites (and emails, and leaflets) lack any RSVP details.
Rewrite your content from the ground up
First, define who your Ideal Clients are. That helps you know who you want to attract. Only then can you properly brief your copywriter, whoever it is. Remember your favourite past clients and seek the common threads. It's not always easy, but it does make a big difference. You may come to realise that your website is doing a really good job of attracting the wrong clients!
Second, prioritise actively helping the right clients find you. Stop your website being a boring billboard that people pass by without a second thought. Identify the differences between you and your competitors, and emphasise the unique benefits you provide that Ideal Clients find attractive.
Focus on helping Ideal Clients find you
You need safe, ethical and professional methods to get you:
Much more visibility in search engine results, and
More visitors who read enough to be impressed, and
More ideal prospects actually clicking or calling you
My suggestions to boost the effectiveness of your website in bringing you suitable clients:
Catch up soon. We can't predict the future, but we can create it. Your website plays an increasingly important role in gaining you clients – 70% of your prospects check it out before contacting you (2). So you need it to work effectively at attracting the right people, otherwise you risk putting them off. You need dedicated time and you probably need a new budget – things aren't as simple as they used to be!
Review your existing content and revise where necessary. It needs to be very readable for Ideal Clients, highly relevant and actively helpful to their problem and/or opportunities, and leading towards real contact. It's important to Choose The Right Content For Your Website (3) (just like your adverts & leaflets). Consider getting an impartial assessment from someone other than your website designer. Your messages are massively important.
Research your market. Ask your new clients how they found you. Did they use the website? How helpful was it? What would they like improved? Put Simply: Find Ways To Sell Your Professional Value Better (4). This is free and it's valuable – after all, clients are the final judges of your website's work.
Find professionals who can give you the three requirements: high visibility through search engines, impressive relevance to Ideal Clients and action-triggering. Nowadays this goes beyond graphic design and website code writing. Professional copy-writing is not journalism and search engine optimisation includes many strategies, high-speed hosting and constructive systems management. If in doubt, try window-shopping.
Future-proof where you can. We know things will change again. Make it a priority for someone on the team to think about the future and check the relevant trends – technological, political, professional and psychological. Aim to get into a leadership position rather than being kicked into reaction by your competitors website updates.
Plan your next catch-up even sooner. The pace of progress has already increased. Your website effectiveness is likely to suffer as your competitors do their catching up.
Above all, visit your own website. Check for mistakes: wrong facts, missing explanations, duplications, contradictions, jargon, and so on. Spelling errors deserve a special mention here (I've seen 'reposnsible' and 'laywer' – yes, even on large professional firms' websites): it's been said to deter 80% of clients. Then check your website against your leaflets and office signage for differences. And next, check your reception staff know what it says so they can answer queries knowledgeably.
Get a better perspective
We get so used to our own backyard that we take too much for granted – over-familiarity breeds a peculiar blindness. That makes proof-reading your own writing (a difficult enough task anyway) even harder. Again, an answer is to make use of outsiders who start from a place of intelligent ignorance – a fresh mind.
Most professionals are consumers of professional services other than the one they work in. That experience gives you a chance to put yourself in your client's shoes. I suggest you ask everyone in your team to remember their interaction with professionals' websites (and adverts, leaflets and receptionists). Focus each on a different profession. Pool knowledge of problems and preferences. Then you can start designing your ideal website!
Clients generally get good value from professionals. Now professionals can put more value into potential clients' research of their website. And that will help clients to find the professionals most suited to them. In this way the best pairings will come together – which is valuable to everybody.