Heidi Thompson of Evolve Your Wedding Business discusses the six most common mistakes wedding professionals make with their websites.
Spring is upon us and while you might think to give your house or office a spring clean, have you thought about giving your website a 'once-over'? There are lots of small, easy changes you can make that will make your website work more for you and your customers. Read on for my list of common website mistakes and how to rectify them
1. Your website has a bad case of 'me, me' syndrome
Does your website read like this? "I studied for years and I won this award and my shop is the best"? If your website contains lots of personal pronouns like us, me, we, I and our, then your business has 'me, me' syndrome. Thankfully there is a cure.
Tough love time: I hate to break it to you, but your customers don't care about you, they care about what you can do for them. This is why your content needs to pass the 'What does that mean to me?' test. When you write, put yourself in your customer's position and question every sentence with 'What does that mean to me?' What matters to you may not (and probably won't) matter to them because they want to know what's in this for them. Make use of 'you' and tell your audience what they will get from working with you. Speak to them, not at them.
2. You're using industry jargon
Almost every business owner is guilty of this at some point because we forget that our experience isn't the same as the experience our customers have. Most of your customers have never planned a wedding before and using industry jargon can confuse and intimidate them. You know what the difference is between a chapel and a cathedral train but those terms mean nothing to your customer. Your marketing materials should be in your customer's language, not the language you speak with other wedding professionals. You could be extra helpful by offering a downloadable jargon buster on your website to help brides find the best dress for them.
3. You're not asking your visitors to do anything
When someone reads your blog posts, website content or marketing materials, do they know what you want them to do next? This might seem silly but it's statistically proven that using calls to action (CTAs) increases the likelihood of a visitor taking a specific action.
Calls to action are simply words that are used to get your prospect to take a specific action like 'click here' or 'sign up'. Take a look at every page on your own website and think about what action you want the reader to take after they read it and add in the relevant CTA. For example, the end of a product page might have a link to schedule a time to come in and try it on.
4. You're not demonstrating that you know what you're doing
Putting together a simple website is no longer enough for people to see you as being credible and reliable because anyone can do it. You can demonstrate credibility through blogging on your own site, and you could start guest blogging and link to those articles/promote them on your social media. I highly suggest adding more compelling testimonials to your site by adding a photo or video to accompany them. You should also add a photo of yourself on your 'about' page and give more insight into who you really are. People buy from people they know, like and trust and they can't know, like and trust you if you don't give them any way to get to know you.
5. Your website no longer/never did reflect your ideal client
When you land on a website you make a judgement about it within seconds and that first impression is crucial. That's why it's important for your website to reflect the kind of brides that you're trying to attract. If you sell dresses to brides who love all things vintage, your website needs to reflect that so that they know they're in the right place for them. The point here is that you can't be all things to all people so you have to choose who your target client will be. When that person lands on your website, they need think 'this is so me'. An example of a website that does this really well is www.offbeatbride.com. Go to some top designer sites that you admire then go to the David's Bridal website and the bridal section on the TK Maxx website. I think then you'll see what I mean.
6. You're trying to get married before the first date
Most websites in our industry describe products and services and then ask the visitor to get in touch with them. The problem with this is that it's moving much too fast for the sort of purchases that we're asking people to make.
When a bride or groom lands on your website, they are more than likely in research mode and are gathering information. They need to get to know you and learn how this whole wedding thing works before they make a purchase.
Lead nurturing is the process of educating your prospects and it can be much easier than it sounds. Many businesses offer a free offer in exchange for the prospect's email address and then communicate with them by email. The emails that you might get from Amazon are a great example of lead nurturing emails. They serve to take you a step closer to a purchase, remind you to visit their website again or attempt to make an additional purchase.
I can't teach you how to do that in this small space but if you want to learn more, head over to www.mindthegapcourse.com to learn more.
Quick tweaks that will have your website running better than ever
Do you use Google Analytics? If you don't, install it today because it's free, incredibly useful and only starts working from the day you install it. Check in with your stats monthly to see how people are interacting with your site so that you can continually improve. I did an interview with a Google Analytics expert that will help you learn how to make the most of your stats: www.evolveyourweddingbusiness.com/7
Is your contact information easy to find? Ask someone who has never seen your site to use it and let you know - you might be surprised.
Are you using auto-play music or auto-play videos? Stop doing that. It sends your potential clients running in the other direction and you may blow their cover if they're looking at your site while they're at work.
Is your website mobile friendly? Test it on different devices to see how it displays. In a recent interview I did with a website developer she found that an event planner's site was redirecting to a porn site when accessed on a mobile phone and the planner had no idea because she hadn't implemented any security measures or tested her site. Hear more about that story here: www.evolveyourweddingbusiness.com/6
Protect your website by backing it up and preventing any hackers from getting access with a tool like Vaultpress. Around 30,000 websites are hacked every day and contrary to popular belief, most of those are small business websites like yours.
Are you using a personal email as your professional email? This is a big no-no because it makes you look unprofessional. Your clients know the difference between an @hotmail.com and an @nameofmyweddingbusiness.com email. If someone from a company you were dealing with emailed you from a personal email address I bet you'd think it was odd, the same thing applies here and it's very cheap to get dedicated email hosting with Google Apps For Business or Zoho Email Hosting.
Is your website Flash based? Flash is very 1990s and it presents a whole host of problems from not being able to be read by Google (so that means no search engine rankings for you) to being useless on iPhones which a lot of people are now using as their main way to access the internet. You can read more about the perils of having a Flash-based website and what to do about it at www.evolveyourweddingbusiness.com/flash
Add social sharing buttons to your product pages and blog posts. If you use Wordpress you can find my plugin recommendations at www.evolveyourweddingbusiness.com/plugins. Making things easy to share increases the likelihood that people will share them.
Heidi Thompson www.evolveyourweddingbusiness.com