So far, in this series on Web Optimization, we’ve talked about the Home Page, Design and Navigation, and Features and Functionality. Today is all about content.
Create your content outline to answer questions. The information you provide on your site should be tailored to answer your target market’s questions about your products or services. Too much information is just as bad as too little, so focus on decision-making criteria. If you sell clothing online, potential buyers are not likely to care about your personal family situation. They want to know what your prices are and if you ship for free. On the other hand, if you’re an accountant who has just established a new firm, the fact that you live with a spouse and children in the local area may well help to build trust.
Tone and Terminology
In Part 3 of our Marketing Series, we talked about Brand Management. Part of that discussion was establishing the character or personality of your brand. The tone of voice and terminology you use on your website should be consistent with that personality. If you’re a hot fashion brand marketing to teens, you’ll want to use the latest lingo and be focused on the look. If you’re a funeral home, a more subdued, compassionate tone, with plain language is more appropriate. If you are branded as the best power tool manufacturer on the planet, industry jargon and specs will help sell the brand and the products.
Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation
With the exception of brand and market appropriate lingo and jargon, it is absolutely essential to use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation on your website. A few mistakes can undo any traction you’ve gained. In the mind of the site visitor, if the quality of your website is poor, your products and services will be too.
Choosing images for your website is like walking a field of landmines. “The Internet,” as the collective is often referred to, are hyper-sensitive about pretty much everything – politics, religion, gender, race, body image, etc., etc. With that in mind, high quality images of your product in use, with close-ups of important details, are a great selling feature. For service providers, photos of you and your staff should be considered, along with images that convey what you do, as well as the results – physically and emotionally. For example, a roofing company would show a picture of the new roof and the happy, proud home owners.
Forms are another tricky item that require considerable thought. Your primary goal is to get the potential customer’s contact information so you can follow up. You may need to ask a few questions if you’re doing a quote or need to choose the right person to make the call back, but make sure the questions are relevant. If you ask too many questions, or get too personal too soon, visitors will balk and may abandon the form entirely. Provide precise instructions using example text if possible, to avoid causing frustration. For example, if the first box is “Name,” the second box should not be “Last Name.” If the phone number field is set to only accept numbers in xxx-xxx-xxxx format, point that out. It’s also helpful to provide options for the time of the callback, i.e. morning, afternoon, or evening, and make sure you call at the time requested.