Love at First Sight

Make it easy for prospects to find you and size you up

By Richard Rutigliano, PriMedia Inc.

The most successful companies are masters of creating great experiences for customers and clients, and they are particularly adept at inspiring a kind of "love at first sight."

To woo prospects most effectively, companies need an online presence that (a) consistently brings the right visitors to your website and (b) gives them the inspiration and information they need to make a choice on the spot.

More often than not, a prospective customer or client who searches online for a local business will make a choice quickly, and they will often choose the company with the website they like best, because they'll figure - rightly or wrongly - it's the best company. Why? Because their e-commerce experiences have taught them that smart companies have strong websites. That inference is not necessary reliable, but we can rely on prospects to make that inference.

A prospect who searches online typically will begin their evaluation the moment the first page of search results pops up, so the first goal is always to get to the top of the search results for pertinent keywords and key phrases. Your presence on Page One not only puts you in front the prospect, it serves notice that your company is a leader.

Effective use of SEO strategies, centered largely on strong informational content, helps a company achieve a first-page presence in search results, and an attractive listing maximizes the opportunity. When a developer builds a website with a strong internal hierarchy, the site may generate an enhanced listing with sitelinks, which are direct links within the search result to subpages on the site. A search result with sitelinks gives the user the ability to click directly on a subpage that interests them, and, more importantly, it has a commanding look.

The "courtship" continues when the prospect clicks on the listing and arrives at your website. Make good use of their time with an engaging home page design that immediately reveals who you are, what you do and why you are the best choice. Here are some questions prospects are likely to ask and some solutions to help choose you on the spot.

What does this business do?

Whether you are a restaurant, a law firm or a contractor, you need to answer this question at a glance. Use an effective combination of headlines, copy, imagery and navigation to make it clear who you are and what your specialties are. Be sure the pages are clean and uncluttered and don't scream, because no one wants to be confused or overwhelmed in their first few moments at your website.

What is this company like?

Give your site a professional "look and feel" with a design motif that is appropriate for your business type. Whatever you do, your prospects are regularly exposed to high caliber marketing from the likes of Apple, AT&T, Bank of America and Geico, and they have standards. Details like typeface, color scheme and graphic design combine to create a distinct first impression. People are not complicated; they respond to pretty things. You don't have to be Amazon, but you have to look sharp.

What sets this company apart?

If the "look and feel" of the home page impress visitors favorably, they are likely to start poking around to learn a little more. Anticipate what they'll want to know and make it easy to find the most important subpages. Don't try to cram all the details on one page; instead use more buttons and subpages relating to your range of products and service.

Can I trust this business?

To help prospects get comfortable with you, flash your credentials and provide easy access to customer reviews and testimonials. Companies that join Angie's List, the Better Business Bureau and local industry associations have more credibility than those that don't. Display those affiliations and lead customers right to your reviews and/or testimonials.

Is it convenient to do business with this company?

Convenience sells. If you are convenient to use, make that obvious by highlighting your extended hours, your online conveniences or whatever it is that makes you the convenient choice.

If you'd like help growing your business, PriMedia is happy to help. Please contact me at 800-796-3342 or through our website to get started.

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