Why does your IT company have a website? Ultimately, it's to help you sell products and services. It's an important part of your marketing machine. So, you want it to be as effective as possible, right? Let's look at eight elements of a winning IT company website.
People come to your website for its content, not its design. What do they hope to find in your content? Often, answers to their questions, such as,
Your content must answer these questions. You must establish your expertise and credibility through your content. Your blog is a great way to do this, but you can also use white papers, ebooks, or simple webpages.
Your content should be useful; something the visitor can act on and get a benefit from. That's much more likely to form a positive impression than content that shares common sense or is blatantly self-promotional.
Make sure all your compelling content is easy to find, by shining the spotlight on it with your design and navigation (menus and other links).
Your website is for your clients and prospects; it isn’t for you. Those people are most likely non-technical businesspeople, who aren't familiar with IT jargon. Identify IT terms and translate them into plain English. That will make your content more understandable and useful.
Learn more in our post, IT Jargon on Your Website: Alienating or Credibility-Building?
Quick: How are you different than the five IT companies located nearest you? Why should a prospect choose you over those companies?
These reasons, your differentiators, need to be center-stage on your website, so prospects can see why they should choose you. They may have your competitors' websites open in tabs right next to yours. Don't you want to stand out?
The reasons you give can be logical or emotional; ideally, you'll have both. Keep in mind that people often make decisions based on emotion, then rationalize their decisions with logic.
Prospects want to know that you can solve their problems, and that you'll be timely and personable while doing so. You can brag about yourself all you want, but site visitors are naturally skeptical. Show, don't tell. Share what you've done for others, and how they've benefitted. Case studies are a very effective way to do this. They lend you credibility and authority, by showing real-world results.
Case studies are better than testimonials alone because they give more context. Case studies that include testimonials are ideal. If you can't put case studies on your site, or you can't yet, testimonials and reviews are better than nothing.
When a prospect is ready to contact you, why would you put up roadblocks? Clear the path by making your contact info immediately obvious when your audience opens any page. Put your contact information in at least one of the following places:
If you don't want to include the full contact info on every page, at least make sure it's only one click away (for example, by clicking a "Contact" link).
Also, prospects aren't the only ones who'll look for contact info on your site. Current clients will too, and often when they're in a hurry (maybe experiencing an IT problem). Make it easy for them to contact you, too. If they need to go through a client-only portal, make that obvious, and make it easy to get there.
A dry, purely informational page is not only boring, it also doesn't motivate action. The visitor will say, "That's nice," and move on to something else, promptly forgetting about you. Don't let that happen! What do you want a visitor to do when they finish reading a page (or while they're reading it)? Don't make them guess. Specifically ask them to take some action; this is called a "call to action" (CTA).
Ultimately, you want the reader to become a client; to buy from you. That doesn't mean you should have "Contact us now!" or "Schedule a call now!" plastered on every page of your site. Most visitors won't go straight from reading a page on your site to scheduling a consultation. So, have one or more "soft" CTAs rather than going straight for the sale. Just like you wouldn’t propose marriage on the first date, you shouldn't have a direct sales pitch at the bottom of every page. Examples of soft CTAs include a free or inexpensive checklist, ebook, demo, audit, or consultation.
This element builds on the previous one. Because most visitors won't buy on their first visit, you need a way to build a relationship that will lead to an eventual sale. Your soft CTAs should collect some info from the visitor (email address, maybe name) in exchange for what you're providing them (a white paper, ebook, email newsletter, etc.). You can then communicate with them in the weeks and months ahead, through automatic or manual messages. You want to move them through the sales funnel.
People don’t read websites the way they read books. They scan web pages, looking for anything that catches the eye; anything that stands out from blocks of text. Use headlines, bullets, numbered lists, images, and graphics to capture attention.
The "squint test" is a good way to see how scannable your site is. Squint your eyes and scroll through the main pages of your site. Can you tell, while squinting, what each page is about? Can you tell what you should do after reading the page (the call to action)? If not, fix those pages.
Imagine you begin working with a new CPA firm. You go to visit their office, and find it's in a run-down strip mall. Do you think they're one of the best accounting firms in your city? What if you then pull out your phone to check their website, and what comes up is a wretched design from a decade ago? Does that help or further hurt your impression of the firm?
Now put yourself in your prospect's shoes. The owner of a small staffing firm has never met you or been to your office. She finds your site through Google. Does your site make her think better or worse of your IT company?
I don't need to tell you that your site's design must make a good impression. It's often the first impression your company makes!
Now, don't be tempted to make your site look like a modern art museum exhibit, or a special-effects laden blockbuster. People don't come to your website to gawk at the visuals; they come for the content. Your design should shine the spotlight on the content, not detract from it.
Now, keep this page open in one tab, and open your website in another tab. Go through the above list again, and evaluate your website as you go. What are you doing well? What's lacking? If you're like most IT companies, you'll find that your site doesn't score 100%. Don't worry! We can help you fill in the gaps. Contact us to start working towards a winning IT website.