In industries across the country, companies are looking at the new website of their closest competitor, and realizing how much better that website is than their own. And to add insult to injury, their sales teams are reporting back that their competitors are stealing sales because of that very website.
That’s typically when clients seek out marketers for help, because they want to emulate their competitor’s new website. The problem here, however, isn’t that their competitor has a new website – no, it’s because the competitor has done something to improve their customer experience, which is something every business with a website should keep at the front of their minds. To truly succeed, businesses need to start building their position as a leader in their industry, and sometimes, the best place to start doing that, is on their website.
They Won’t Ask if You’re Awesome
Most customers tend to do their research first before ever engaging with a salesperson, in fact, buyers are typically 60-70% through their decision making process before ever talking to anyone other than themselves – or possibly their peers. They are able to make it this far because of the pervasiveness of the Internet that’s enabled a greater ability to research online through websites, forums, social media and free trials.
They no longer need salespeople to tell them how great a product is, so if your salespeople aren’t telling them, you better make sure the information online about you is what you want your customers to know. Gone are the days of companies doing business through face to face meetings. While it can be tricky to transition to this more distant “research-type” customer, it’s a growing customer base, and the transition can be done with the right kind of help.
Buyers are much more educated now, and your customers are no different. They want to ensure they’re getting the best bang for their buck, and are looking at your website to make sure you’re going to give them the quality they’re looking for.
The Customer’s Always Right… Right?
They’re looking for thought leadership, and they’ll be looking at reviews of your business and products, in addition to researching what your competitors offer. This is where your amazing customer relationships come into play. Online reviews are becoming more important to the purchasing cycle, since new customers who have no reference point for your product will take to the web to find out more. And if you’ve been providing excellent experiences for your customers, potential buyers will find those glowing reviews – and do they ever make a difference.
It’s a consumer world out there, and eventually, those consumers are going to end up on your website, so you want to make sure you deliver them the best experience possible, and give them the information they are looking for.
More often than not, when clients come to us looking for a website refresh, they will show us an example of one of their competitors’ websites, or even a social media following of that competitor. When they’re showing us an example, and telling us they’re envious of it, they’re usually telling us in the same breath, “it’s not even that good.” But, it had to be good enough for them to bring it to us, right? As such, we take their concerns, and help them out by explaining how important it is to provide thought leadership in their space, and how their website can be that first step to providing that information.
It’s all about the Function Junction
A well-functioning website with all of the information organized according to your customers’ interest (not yours), and many easy ways for them to contact you are some of the best ways to build the foundational tools for success. Social media is another great space. Responsive and actual “social” accounts will help with engagement and not only make it seem like you’re accessible, but will help you become accessible through the mediums your clients are most comfortable using.
When it comes to your website, the goal is to design it as a vehicle to help define you as an industry leader. Industry leaders usually find themselves in their position because they have the best relationships with their customers – they understand their needs, and create tools to ensure the relationship built remains strong and continually supported.
Yet, as you’re building your new website, it’s important to keep in mind that you should never measure yourself against your competitors. While you may have similar products, you’re still wildly different. If you weren’t, one of you wouldn’t exist. As such, make sure you’re only measuring yourself against other industry leaders, and see if you can provide the same level of thought leadership they can.
Header Photo: Bench Accounting via Unsplash
If you want to learn more about specific key elements of an effective marketing plan, read our 50+ page booklet on How to Write A Strategic Marketing Plan That Yields ROI – complete with explanations