Is your website incontinent?
Not an everyday question yet a worthy one for any CEO who considers herself worthy of the acronym.
An incontinent website is one that leaks. The chief concern of online marketers is whether their website leaks money but websites can leak all manner of other things: bookings, support, donations, job applications, media coverage, membership renewals, corporate partnerships.
Anytime your website has the chance but fails to deliver these to you it is leaking. Chances are your website is downright incontinent. Let me explain it in human terms.
Let’s say you employed a receptionist. Let’s say that that receptionist let phone calls go unanswered, greeted incomers with indifference, pointed people in the wrong direction and displayed no passion about your organisation. She’s a leak.
Let’s say you employed a lead salesperson (left). Let’s say that your lead salesperson held no knowledge of your products, knew nothing of how your product bested the opposition product and regularly wandered off in the middle of a transaction to check his Tindr account. He’s a leak.
As CEO you’d recognise that these people were not fulfilling their jobs and were indeed costing you money. (They’d also be costing you reputation and future business.) Action would be taken so your organisation could flourish. Well it’s the same with your website. Right now, it’s likely to be leaking money and donations, volunteers, job applicants, partnerships, bequests and clients. As CEO you need to stop this.
Last week Brett trained 15 or so communications people from various aged care service providers, some of them well-known, others small. One thing they all had in common was the need for their website to perform exquisitely for people considering placing themselves or their loved one at their nursing homes. This is a clear and reasonable objective.
Yet few of the websites featured well produced videos of the facilities, the staff or happy residents. It was possible for browsers – likely to be highly motivated and hungry for advice – to come to a website and be seduced by nothing more than a still image and some plain text. This is unlikely to satisfy a ‘shopper’ at a time when he is desperate for information and reassurance. This is utterly insufficient for somebody making a life-changing decision.
Every time someone comes to such a website and leaves without so much as making an enquiry, leave alone a purchase, the website has leaked money. The CEO must mandate action.
We recently looked at the course information page of an RTO (left). Entire diploma courses were described with 50 or so words of text with no information about course structure, costs or future career options. We ‘met’ none of the lecturers or current students. We did not see the facilities or get a sense of the philosophy of the institution.
In a hyper-competitive world of vocational education it is unlikely that a prospective student will take it upon herself to call up the RTO and request more information. (Perhaps a nice brochure.) Instead she will do what we all do – Google away and find someone better. Once again we have a website leaking money and students and opportunity.
Every CEO – corporate, nonprofit or government – aims to measure the performance of her organisation through data analysis and reporting. While it is possible to measure customer satisfaction and the quantity of incoming telephone calls it is impossible to measure the money, bookings, support, donations, applications and partnerships that your current website is costing you. But we can guess…
Stop right now and take 10 minutes to assess your website. Write down five of your important, distinct audiences then visit your website and see how well these audiences people are catered for.
Can they find a part of your website that is designed especially for then? Does it have enough information to satisfy their curiosity? Does it answer the frequently asked questions regarding costs, structures, waiting times, quality of your service?
Do you try to seduce people with only words and still images or are there videos, eBooks and webinars? Do you charm and empathise? Do you illuminate and simplify?
Place yourselves in the audiences’ shoes and Google what they might Google – will they find you at all? Why haven’t you done this before?
There are dozens of other ways your website is leaking. Whether it be potential email subscribers, media coverage, renewals, donors, volunteers or staff every leak is costly and makes your job more difficult. The right communications person recognises this and is willing to call a halt to proceedings and ask the question: “Are we doing enough to turn browsers into buyers or are we leaking?” That question applies no matter what you’re selling.
Websites are not brochures on the Internet nor are they tools at your disposal. They are 24-hours-a-day employees and they need to work for you as only they can – endlessly, at virtually no cost and in more roles than any human could ever fulfil. It’s time to performance manage your website and deal with its current incontinence.
A long time ago we created and edited the website for Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria. One day Gareth who then worked for us (now happily shivering in Canada) realised the website was leaking not money but volunteers.
People who were inspired to donate their time to the organisation after office hours were told on the website to call the next day. Gareth suspected that many good intentions failed to rise with the sun the next day so he created a simple web form allowing people to express their interest when they felt the inspiration.
In a month we had over 140 completed email forms; a total which dwarfed the number of phone calls the volunteer coordinator usually received in three months. Plugging leaks isn’t always so easy nor are the results always so dramatic but there is no excuse to not identify what your current website and online communications are costing you.
How many high quality job applicants are failing to submit their CVs because the employment section of your website fails to sell them on the idea of working for you above the competition? When we created the website for Inner South Community Health we were pleased that the client took the opportunity to promote its values, its benefits and supports for employees along with testimonials as a way to make sure people were encouraged to spend the time to apply online. Leak plugged.
To dramatically improve your online communications book a place at Hootville’s online savvy workshop book your own anywhere anytime. Every day you don’t is another lost opportunity.