Virtually every industrial company has a Web site today, but what you need is a really good Web site that engages your audience and keeps them coming back.
The most recent GlobalSpec survey shows an increase in the amount of time people are spending online for work-related purposes. 48% of respondents spend 6 or more hours per week on the Internet for work, and 28% reported spending over 9 hours — that’s clearly a significant amount of time. They are spending their time online looking for information about suppliers, products, components, and services.
If you can improve your site you will better meet the information needs of your audience of engineering and technical professionals, be able to answer their questions, and improve your opportunities to capture their contact information for lead generation.
Here are five tips that will help better your Web site:
1. Offer detailed product information. Your prospects have problems to solve and are hungry for information that will help them: product specifications, technical data sheets, application notes, and more. Feed your prospects, show them how your products can help solve their problems. Fill your Web pages with detailed product information and downloadable PDFs.
2. Present a strong, clear message on every page. Not just your home page, but every page on your site should have your logo and a clear statement that lets visitors know who you are and what they will find. Remember, visitors don’t only come to your home page. Often they will arrive somewhere deeper in your site. It’s important they discover quickly who you are and what you have to offer, or they will abandon your site and go elsewhere.
3. Provide consistent navigation and page design. You want visitors to get immediately comfortable on your site and find what they are looking for. Your navigation bar should appear in the same place on every page, usually horizontally across the top or vertically along the side. Some companies use both — a global top navigation on all pages and a secondary navigation bar for specific site sections. Expanding menus on the navigation bar help users delve deep into your site with a single click. Also, establish basic page designs for your Web pages and stick with the model. Make sure your headings, font size and typeface are consistent too.
4. Include offers and landing pages. Offers to download white papers, register for Webinars, and view demonstrations are a great way to capture contact information from prospects as well as educate them on industry issues and provide solutions to their challenges. Sprinkle offers on relevant pages throughout your Web site and send prospects to specific landing pages that describe the offer in more detail and capture prospect information that can become a lead for your sales team.
5. Provide new forms of interactive content. Video on Web sites has become very popular and is easy to create. Post videos of product demonstrations or interviews with industry experts or product managers. Add a blog to your site and invite visitors to leave comments. Launch an online community where customers and prospects can interact with your team and each other. These types of features enrich your Web site, keep content fresh, and make your audience feel included.
Now, five things to avoid on your Web site:
1. Excessive use of Flash. Flash takes time to load on your page and often lacks substance. Also, Flash doesn’t even render on devices such as the Apple iPad, and that will result in a blank area on your Web page. Prospects aren’t looking for fancy stuff… they’re looking for answers, and the quicker you can provide them, the better your chances of connecting with them.
2. Out-of-date content. Old and out-of-date information reflects poorly on your company. It can damage your reputation and leave a bad impression on customers and prospects. Make sure product pages are current. If you post press releases, be sure to have some up-to-date news. Your most recent e-newsletter shouldn’t be a year old. Purging old content and adding new content should be a regular part of your Web site management activities.
3. Bad writing. Another poor reflection on your company is bad writing, grammatical errors, and other mistakes. Proofread all pages. Write in a simple and straightforward style. Keep paragraphs short. Use bulleted lists and headlines. Remember that visitors scan for information on Web pages as opposed to reading from top to bottom.
4. Lengthy registration forms. Of course you want to capture prospect information, but lengthy registration forms with many required fields are a turn off. Just collect the basics from visitors, such as name, company, and e-mail. If you begin a relationship with the prospect, you can collect additional information later.
5. Broken links. Anyone who has clicked on a link and gotten the 404 error that the Web page cannot be found can’t help but feel disappointed. Broken links also bring search engine crawlers to a halt. Sometimes when you change a page name or move a page to another location you create a cascading effect of broken links. Most software used to develop and maintain Web sites will produce a report of broken links. Run the report often or test your site regularly.