By: The Trio at Las Peregrinas
[Editor’s note: Starting this month, we’ll write about a business trend. The intention is to offer fresh observations about where the marketplace is headed, and tell stories about how people in our community have responded to these changes in grounded, clear-eyed, and wildly creative ways.]
For years, we had experts telling us that we only had “1.2 seconds” (or some such thing) to hold people’s attention on our websites so we had better get the most powerful information “above the fold” or else people would click away. So we mastered that with compelling images and copy at the very top of the page to keep people interested enough to stay engaged and scroll further down.
Then we inundated them with information!
It was weird. It was as if we thought that if they stayed for 1.3 seconds, then we had them for hours or something.
But now I would say that the old adage of Less Is More is critical to consider when creating (most) service-based business websites. Go for creating mood and feel and energy on your site. Worry less about tons of words and jargon, and focus on portraying what you want your clients to feel and experience in their work with you. Is the energy that would draw your clients more fire-y? Then choose fire-y colours like reds and oranges, and fonts and images that suggest action and strong movement. Do you feel your clients would be more attracted to a feeling of structure and stability? Then no moving parts on your website, please! Choose grounding and solid colours and images to match that energy instead.
Websites are like your home. Create it to compel someone to come up the walkway and knock on the door. Because, as Sarah will explain next, that’s how the relationship can really begin.
In the past, websites were set up to have multiple Calls To Action (CTAs) — that is, asks that got people to take some sort of action — often in the form of offering a free gift (also called a ‘lead magnet’) on an opt-in page. Depending on the size and complexity of a business, it continues to be common for a business to have multiple opt-in pages, each with a different free gift offering to solve a different problem for a different target market on each one.
There was a time when these techniques did work.
However times have changed, and people are wiser.
What continues to be true is that the whole point of a website is to educate, inform, and most importantly, get people who land there to take some kind of action.
But what has changed is that more and more buyers — especially buyers of boutique services that are highly customized to each customer — do not want to start a relationship by exchanging their email address to get a bunch of pre-written or pre-recorded information (which may not even apply to their situation!).
For this reason, we’re advising many of our clients to let go of the outdated ‘free gift on an opt-in page’ strategy on their websites, and instead put a call to action of ‘let’s have a conversation’ on their websites. This isn’t appropriate for all businesses, but for many of you, it is. Put this CTA in a logical place that flows with the copy on your website. If you also happen to have a newsletter, go ahead and place an opt-in for it. Keep it simple, consistent and depending on your market, there may not be a need for a free gift. Remember: Inform, educate, and a clear ask. Nothing more.
Here’s the thing – if you truly have a relationship-based business… you need a website with words and a user experience that is relationship-based as well.
When someone tells me, “I value relationship and connection,” but then I go to their website and they have some corny free gift and no way to connect with them personally before giving them money, that’s a problem. It’s not only a website problem, it’s an alignment problem, and a sales process problem, too.
But when someone says “I value relationship and connection,” and then I go to their website and it makes me feel something exciting and genuine, and I get what that person’s about and the sort of stuff they work on, and the whole website is set up and written from their values of relationship and connection – which, is a real trick on what can be a very impersonal platform like the internet – I know I’m dealing with a master.
Because it takes heuvos (and no small amount of skill) to walk away from the game that everyone seems to think we should all be playing (Collect as many email addresses as possible! Grow your mailing list! Make it hard to talk with you, like you’re the Wizard of Oz!) and play your own game.
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