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What should you say on your website?

Written by Russell Holland

Article Published in b Innovative the official Auckland Chamber of Commerce magazine October 2004 Issue 37

So you've decided to get a website or to finally update the old one. Now you have to decide what goes on each of the pages.

Seven steps to website content

1. Put yourself in your customers' shoes
The single biggest consideration to think about is that the website should be "visitor driven". That is, you should approach the content from your customers' point of view and not your own.

Your website is a marketing tool and as with all marketing tools you should begin with the question: "What drives my customers to purchase my product or service?"

2. Talk yourself up
New Zealand business people are often reluctant to talk about themselves, so it helps to put your content into the perspective of the new customer that comes through the front door - what do they need to know before they can do business with you?

They want to know how you can make their lives easier and the benefits of doing business with you versus with your competitor.

3. Not every visitor is the same
You need to allow for different types of visitors to your website. Some of the traffic to your website won't buy today but they might in the future, while others may not have the "buying decision" power and may just need to compile a business case before they get sign-off to buy your products and services.

4. It may help to think of content for the website under the next few headings
Tell visitors exactly what you want them to do
The most important part of the content on your website is "The Pitch" - this is where you define your overall objective. What is the main reason for having a website? Is it to promote a product or service and pass the customer details on to your sales team? Or should the website complete the selling process?

5. Tell visitors there's no risk
Of equal importance to the pitch is the "Buying Objection Removal" content. This is information that supports the sale - things like shipping insurance, guarantees, terms and conditions of the sale, returns policy, quality statements and existing customer testimonials.

Current web based e-commerce research indicates that good testimonials increase the "trust" potential purchasers place on a web product or service offering, so comments from current happy customers should take pride of place here.

6. Reassure them with a bit of background
"Credibility Building" content should also be available on the website. This typically doesn't change over time and covers the history of your company or organisation, who your people are, their skill sets and backgrounds.

The credibility building information is aided by other static content such as contact details and a map or geographical location. A map is a great idea for a lot of companies on the web. It can be used as part of the pitch or the buying objection removal to show the geographical area that you're able to cover with your services.

7. Give them something for nothing
Two types of important content are missing from many websites - "Relationship building" and "Traffic building" content. "Relationship Building" is where you give your customers something, even if they don't buy anything. This type of content is typically dynamic in nature and includes elements like forums, "what's new", newsletters, samples, and case studies.

Your website users or existing customers can actually be the source for some of this information. Using them in this way also provides a secondary "call to action" for those visitors that aren't ready to buy now. It allows you to start the sales process by asking them to register for a direct email database to receive updates or special offers.

"Traffic Building" is the same kind of content. It is also usually dynamic but it changes more often. If you expect a steady increase in visitor traffic over time then you need to provide a reason for the web visitor to come back to your website as well as a reason to tell others. Examples of this kind of content include how to use your products or services, instructions, giveaways, news and views on what is happening within your industry.

Also see the "Web Design, Information Architecture & Content Management Articles of Interest" Page for other reading resources....

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