A long-time friend gave me a call yesterday to complain about his non-profit’s website. Complain may be a little harsh. He expressed his discontent with the site.
The non-profit he works at is respectable in size, but he insisted the organization needed a new website because not enough people were submitting contact information to learn more about the non-profit.
Photo by Chris Lu
I told him I just published a post here on the blog about 12 questions to consider before redesigning a website, and that I’d be happy to pass along the link to him. But I told him something didn’t seem right.The fact that he thought the site’s appearance was the reason for a lack of leads seemed puzzling. So, I asked him to send me a link to his non-profit’s website.
I spent a few minutes looking over the site, and then I called him back. “Before you commit to overhauling your site,” I said, “you may want to consider overhauling your content first.”
The site was a little outdated design wise, but it was fine. As for the content, there were three specific problems that jumped out. I talked him through the problems, then I offered these three potential solutions:
1. Don’t be so self-centered
Your website should not be all about you. Sure, it needs to explain who you are and what you do, but just as important is why you matter. What difference does your business make? You should be able to clearly present this by addressing the common needs and questions of your primary audience.
Here’s an example. Take a look at the top headline on your homepage. Does that headline tell people what you do, or does it tell them what problems you are going to solve and how their lives will be made easier by working with you?
Another great way to speak to your audience’s needs is by blogging. If you don’t know already, find out what questions your key customers have. What are their concerns? What advice do they need? Once you find that out, you can craft posts to relieve those concerns and provide assistance. Very quickly, you will be able to demonstrate that you care about your customer. When a customer sees that, they’ll be more likely to want to learn more about your business.
2. Make it clear that you can be trusted
Often times, website users are hesitant to provide any sort of contact information because of security or privacy concerns. Knowing that means that you need to make sure you show that your organization is one that can be trusted.
How do you do that? You show it.
Make sure your website has testimonial quotes or stories from past customers about their experiences with you and your business. You’ll look even more trustworthy if you include the person’s actual picture with their quote. It makes it more personable.
You also shouldn’t be afraid to show you care about user privacy. You could do this by:
- Providing a secure checkout portal
- Reminding users that they can easy change subscription preferences or opt out
Also, make sure your messaging is consistent. When a user clicks a call-to-action button, an ad or just a link in a blog post, they want to know that they’re going to the correct place. Having similar content that matches what they clicked will help do this. A strong message match comforts users and assures them they are where they are supposed to be.
3. Ask for what you want
This is where my friend’s non-profit struggled the most. He was disappointed that the site was not generating more leads, but then I pointed out to him that there was only one call-to-action asking for users to provide their first name and email address to learn more about the organization. And that one CTA was not on the homepage, and it wasn’t even near the top of the page it was on.
If you want something from your user, ask for it! If leads are what you are looking for, make it clear that you want people to provide their contact information. And if that’s what you want, make the CTA enticing enough that they will want to provide that information. Say you have a compelling blog post; you could add a CTA at the end that asks for readers’ contact information in return for a longer, more in-depth piece of content on the same topic.
CTAs can be as simple as you’d like, but in general, the more specific the better.
My friend thanked him for saving him the thousands of dollars a redesign costs. He confessed that he never had spent much time thinking about how the site’s content influences user activity, but once he thought about it, it made perfect sense.
If this story resonates with you, or if you would like assistance thinking through your website’s content strategy, we’re always ready to talk.