Here’s a fact: every one of your customers and prospects — big or small — are going to check out your Web site. And they will equate their experience on your Web site with what it’s like to do business with your company. A good experience on your Web site helps create a favorable impression of your company, and a bad experience will definitely turn them off.
“Give Your All to Web Site Visitors,” an article that appeared in the May 2007 issue of the Marketing Maven, offers examples of simple content, functionality and interactivity features that can be added to your site for a more positive user experience.
- White Papers and Technical Articles — Customers and prospects love downloadable white papers or technical articles they can read online or print to read later. Choose topics that are educational, such as how to perform a process or evaluate certain types of components, or how to solve a problem. Consider taking a position on an issue facing your industry and establishing your company as an expert. Another bonus of white papers and technical articles is that search engines will find and index them — so be sure to use your keywords. And remember, don’t be “salesy” or your readers will be dissatisfied, as it is educational content, not a sales pitch, they are expecting.
- Product Specifications and Application Notes — Engineering, technical, and industrial professionals regularly seek out product specs and application notes online. Providing this information allows you to be the “go-to” company for your prospects.
- Case Studies — Whether you focus on products in use in certain industries or happy customers, case studies offer added value to your Web site. They give third-party validation to your company, its products, and services.
- “On Demand” Webinars — Get a license for Web conferencing software and record online seminars — again on educational topics — that visitors can view on your Web site at any time that’s convenient for them. It’s reasonable to request visitors to register with you before viewing a Webinar, which gives a lead to your sales team.
- e-Newsletter Subscriptions — If you publish a regular e-newsletter, provide a sign-up box on key pages on your Web site. Also link to sample issues so subscribers can see what they’re signing up for. It might be enough to collect just names and e-mail addresses from subscribers. Ask for more than that and you’ll lose potential subscribers. If your content is good, they’ll stick with you and be likely to contact you in the future.
- Registration Forms — Yes, forms are an important part of your Web site. Have a few people test your forms. Are they easy to fill out? Do you ask for too much information? It’s best to require just enough information to begin a dialogue with a prospect. You can collect the rest of the information later. Also, if you have the technical capabilities, allow people to register once on your Web site and create a password allowing them to access Webinars, white papers, or other content without having to register each time.
- Contact Us — Of course you have the general phone number, e-mail, and postal address for visitors on your Web site to contact you. Why not take it one step further and allow customers to easily contact their sales rep, reach support or customer service, or locate a distributor of your products? Posting this information online gives your audience one more reason to visit your Web site — maybe they’ll stay for awhile and browse other valuable content.
- Ask Questions — Allow site visitors to share their thoughts and opinions — ask a question on your Web site. Include an e-mail address where responses can be sent, and review comments daily. In addition to responding to all comments, you can choose the best answers to share on your site. Just remember to update questions regularly.
- Add Discussion Boards — Moderate an online discussion board that addresses issues relevant to your audience. This gives customers a chance to be heard and help others. It also allows you to collect valuable information about what’s on customers’ minds regarding your products and company. Offer t-shirts or hats with your company logo to customers who come up with good ideas or answers to technical questions.
- Conduct Polls — Set up a weekly poll question asking customers and prospects their opinion on relevant topics. Again, a great way to find out what your audience is thinking, as well as add interactivity to your Web site. Provide links to the results as well as to previous poll results. There are a number of complimentary or low-cost polling add-ins and services available.
- Blogs and Podcasts — According to the 2007 GlobalSpec Industrial Marketing Trends Survey, fewer than 10% of respondents expected to increase spending on blogs and podcasts in the year ahead. While social media has yet to make an impact on the industrial sector, you should keep your eye on trends and either be a pioneer or ready to jump in when adoption increases. Blogs allow you to provide thought leadership and hear what customers and prospects have to say in return. Podcasts are convenient for users who wish to download content and listen to it later.