A Great Website Delivers a Great User Experience
Day in and day out, we review accounting, consulting and other professional services websites. I’m looking for websites that are really have all cylinders firing for capturing eyeballs, and those that give site visitors a great site experience. Ultimately, I’m looking for how effectively – and convincingly – these sites are converting eyeballs into leads, because after all, that’s what a website should be designed to do.
So I did a little experiment with our “bellwether” firms the other day- those CPA firms in the Top 100 and 200 that I monitor for their inbound marketing prowess - to look at their sites from a visitor’s perspective.
Here’s my key takeaway – from an informational perspective they’re all basically the same, and that’s a sad state of affairs. Sure they look different stylistically and have different features, but they’re indistinguishable when it comes to telling a story of differentiation. They exhibit a total lack of empathy and fail miserably at showing a visitor that the firm understands their issues, pains and needs.
Give Your Website These Three Sniff Tests
How can I tell? Here are three simple tests you can use to review your website: (1) take a look at the number of times you use the firm’s name, the name of a niche practice, or the words “we” or “our” on your site versus using the word “you” in your copy. Hmmm… there’s a pretty good chance that the conclusion you’ll come to is that the website is 100% about you, and virtually nothing about the prospects who have gone on line to find an answer to the pains or issues they’re experiencing.
Next, take a look at the websites of your top 3 competitors and wherever you see their name on their website, insert yours in the copy. Now, do the same for your website and substitute their name in your copy. Hmmm…. that substitution works pretty well, doesn’t it? Well, that’s not a particularly good sign for your website, and from a visitor’s perspective, you haven’t added any more information to their search process that will help convert them into a lead.
Last but not least, do a side by side layout of your website and those of your competitors and from the home pages, try to determine who is remarkable. Remember: this is what your prospects are doing, and if you can’t tell from this first page visit that your firm is the remarkable one out of this bunch then neither can they.
In effect, your site is an online laundry list of services the firm offers. Ho hum.
Give Your Site Visitors a Great User Experience
If you want to make your website a bigger, better and bolder part of your CPA, consulting or other professional services firm’s marketing program, then start by putting yourself into your prospects shoes and view your site from that perspective.
Make your website about the visitor, not about your firm. Show them you understand their pain, and offer solutions in the form of thought leadership delivered via blogs or articles. Use case studies and testimonials to make the point that your firm “has been there/done that”. Make the site navigation simple and clean. Tell your visitor the story of what makes you remarkable and then deliver that story in exciting and compelling words and graphics.
Your website is going to be a critical part and the most visible thing your clients or prospects see when deciding whether or not to do business with your firm. Your website’s structure, copywriting and design is the single most important inbound marketing tactic there is in the marketing inventory of today’s professional services firm.