Is Your Technical Product Website Good Enough ? Check it in 5 steps

My last article talks about why companies of technically complex product should market online. I will use several articles to illustrate main blocks of online marketing, and explain how to start it with success.

A good point to start is your company’s homepage. Not only because it might be the only online channel for the moment, but also because it will be the kernel of your whole online marketing system.

When I tell companies to upgrade their websites, people often roll their eyes and say, “I see where this is going. I know those old website stuffs, and we have a pretty good one. Why don’t you just skip this one, and tell me more about the Facebook.” The truth is very little company have good enough homepages to back up their marketing activities on Facebook, or anywhere else.

Of course it’s easy to spot some obviously bad company websites. The ones that were developed 10 years ago when the companies were founded, featured with old fashioned graphical design and outdated information. I call this innocent mistake, because people can see it and make the upgrade as soon as they are ready.

Many more bad websites are in a less obvious but much more dangerous way. “Your website is the name card of your company and product, it should have an impeccably professional look.” that’s probably what your web design contractor told you when he updated your website to the modern standard. You are content with the professional look homepage, but it’s a huge trap here. Many companies fell here, and never go to the next level.

People don’t go to your homepage to admire the professional look; people go there to find useful information. The look is just a plus which gives your content more credit. Web designer can tell you the most popular colour trend, but he cannot tell you what to say about the product to convince the clients, nor he can tell you how to support clients technically on the website.

Company homepage is not a name card, it’s a operation system holding the business wisdom and logic of your company.

– For clients, the homepage is a store held by trustful owner, where he find product information, get trustable advice, try the product and get feedback from other clients.

– For general public, the homepage is like a library, where they search for industrial insights. They come and go freely, but they will come back to you when they need a product because they trust your advice.

– For your product users, the homepage is like a user club, where users get together, exchange ideas and find help from experts.

Company website holds so many business roles that it should be informational and flexible enough to satisfy different people’s needs. It should also have enough business value to help you capture prospects and facilitate sales.

Now, follow the steps below to check if your website is informational, flexible and has enough business value for online marketing.

Step 1. Don’t open your website yet. Take a pencil and a piece of blank paper. Now imagine yourself as a client – you need a similar product, but you are not sure if it’s the right one to buy.
– Note down the major steps you will take to investigate the and purchase the product.
– For each major step, list down the information needed to help you make purchase decision.

Step 2. Now open your website and walk through the steps on the paper. Can you find information needed? Is it easy to understand? Is it logically organized? What additional information can make the offer looks more favorable? What improvements can make the investigation smoother? Write down your discoveries.

The trick here is to think from the prospective of your clients. Focus on what they want instead of what you want to give them. It requires deep understanding of clients. If you feel difficulty with this exercise, try to talk with some real clients, or co-workers who have more opportunities communicating with clients.

Step 3. Repeat a similar process, but this time, pretend that you just bought the product. On a blank paper, write down major supports needed to start implementing the product. Visit the website again and check if you can easily find information and support.

Repeat this several times pretending you are different types of user, and thinking about their different needs for support.

Step 4. Pretend yourself as someone similar to your client’s profile, but has no immediate need for the product. Write down what information can nurture your trust towards the company. Don’t focus too much on the product itself, think about something interesting or educational. Check on the website if there’s something beneficial for you even though you don’t need the product.

Step 5. In this final step, you are not going to pretend to be someone else, just your normal self. Go through the website again and think how you can capture more business value. Is there anywhere your prospects can give you their contact information? Is there someway they can recommend your product to other people? Is the purchasing procedure clear enough? Is there any roadblock that discourage them to contact you?

After completing the 5 steps above, you will have a clear idea about your website’s performance. Reorganize your notes, and try to integrate them in future upgrading projects. Work together with your web design contractor (or in-house web designer), instead of giving your product website’s whole fate to someone who is professional for design, but really don’t understand or care about your product. Follow my advice, and I’m sure you will get much more benefit from this than any visual update.

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