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Common Website Mistakes That Tell Prospects You Don’t Care

A lot of companies in the B2B construction industry put their website on the back burner for more urgent demands. Before they know it, it’s been 4 or 5 years since their website and marketing materials were updated.

Unfortunately, your potential clients can see and feel this as soon as they visit your website, and this makes it look like you just don’t care that much. Think about it: how many solid sales leads go cold after they research you online?

Your Biz/Dev team are working their butts off trying to make connections and close deals, only to be undermined by the outdated website…they deserve better.

Your firm deserves better.

You deserve better.

What impression does a prospect get when they visit your site to check you out? Is it the impression you want to project?

What can you do to improve a potential client’s perception of who you are and why they should contact you?

Here's our guide to common website mistakes that make it look like you simply don't care.

1. Confusing navigation

Your website is your online, 24 hour-a-day, sales representative. Customers should feel that working with you is simple and stress-free. If browsing your website is like solving a Rubik’s cube, your potential clients are going to get turned off and go to someone else.

If you want to be seen as easy to work with, start by making your website easy, effortless, and informative to use.

  • Make a list of things people should be able to find/do on your site. Common questions they should be able to answer. Ask someone unfamiliar with your site to test your website. Stand behind them and watch them try to locate the answers. This can be a real eye-opener.
  • Accept that you may have the curse of knowledge. You know your products and services inside and out and you assume your prospects know how your company is organized… they don’t. The site is built for them, not you.
  • Let me repeat that, “Build everything for them, not you”.
  • If you really want to show you care, better your processes. Create a list of the repeatable processes in your firm, map them out and look for sticking points internally and consider them from a customer’s point of view. Eliminate the points of frustration where you can. Start simple with your website, then move onto onboarding clients, project management, and hiring. It takes time, but the energy saved, the frustration avoided, and exhibiting to your team that this level of detail is important to you, will all be worth the effort. Better experiences mean a better reputation and repeat business.

2. Hidden or missing information

Often websites are missing the basics and it really makes me crazy.

What's your phone number?
Where's your office? Are you near me at all? What is your service area?
What are your hours?
What exact services do you provide?
Are you B2B or B2C?
Do you have a specialty?
How do I buy from you?

If you want to make that sale, make it as easy as possible for people to find what they need. They have a problem. You may have the best solution in the market, but if you are hard to communicate with, they will go to a competitor that makes it easy.

People don’t always buy the best choice, they buy the choice they understand the quickest:

  • Your website should be an extension of your company in personality and experience
  • Remove as much frustration as you can. Pretend you know nothing about the company and visit your site.
  • If you are a company that prides itself on being easy to work with… that should extend to every aspect of interacting with your company from the website to the phone directory system.
  • Make your contact details clearly visible and show where you are located.
  • Make it obvious who you are meant to serve (if it’s everybody… we need to talk!)
  • Let people know exactly what you do and why you do it – don’t hide this vital info
  • Ask the front desk and the sales team to make a list of the most commonly asked questions. You don’t need to answer everything, you do still want them to call – but you need to get past the first stage of vetting to be invited to bid on their project.
  • Think about all the ways a prospect can interact with your company (those are called touchpoints, and make sure they don’t add unnecessary hurdles and frustration – I’m talking directly to you AT&T!)

You want to show prospects that you're the experts in your industry and that you are here to help them solve problems not be a PIA to deal with.

Don't make visitors work so damned hard to get to know why you're the right choice for them – give them exactly what they're looking for.

3. No clear message

If a researching prospect visits your site and it isn’t clear what you do and who you do it for, they are going to bounce. Most searchers will give you about 30 seconds to let them know if you are worth their attention.

Your website needs to convey “this is what we do” and “this is who we do it for” so prospects know they are in the right place. You need to earn their attention, and quickly… or they’ll bounce back to google and try someone else. You know this is true because you do it yourself when searching.

Pay attention to how you judge companies based on their online presence and how fast you do it. What makes you stop, what makes you bounce.

4. Out of date info

If a potential new customer visits your site and sees old awards, obviously dated material, and a blog that hasn’t been updated since 2013, they’re going to transfer that feeling to what your brand is to them.

I know that you have been busy running your business and you probably don’t have a marketing department to keep everything up to date or they are also busy generating leads for the sales team… you are all doing your best. But a prospect doing research probably won’t be forgiving, they will just say, “nope” and move on.

Every experience with your company leaves an impression:

  • You are being compared to other firms solely based on the outside view of your company, your website, reviews, and whatever else can be found on the internet.
  • They are asking: Who should be invited to bid? Who can I trust? Who can handle the type of job we have?
  • Who has the chops to do a great job and not get me fired?
  • If an underling is doing research to provide to their boss, will they feel safe adding you to the list of possible vendors? Do you look like a solid and modern firm?
  • If your industry has legally-required standards or certifications, make sure these are displayed on your site – the last thing you want is a client being put off working with you because it looks like you haven’t been certified since 2012.

Common website mistakes like out of date info can really hurt credibility and website rankings

  • Inaccurate product and services information
  • Out of date pricing
  • Out of date capabilities list
  • An out of date guarantee or warranty information
  • Out of date career page with details on benefits
  • A blog that hasn't changed in over a year
  • A dated look and feel

All of these can bite you in the butt if they are published and out of date. Honoring your word is important for your reputation, let’s make sure whatever “the word” is, that it’s current. This means once a year reading over the pages on your site. Lost sales due to out of date info is an avoidable headache.

5. Links that don’t work

Nothing says ‘we don’t care’ like pages not working on a website. Nothing’s more frustrating than battling through a company’s website, then finally finding the link you need… only to be greeted with a ‘404 error – page missing’ message.

Making sure all the pages on your site work is not only important for your website’s visitors, but it’s also necessary to get your website ranking well on search engines.

  • Broken links happen. If you are linking to a lot of off-your-site pages, the page owner can move the page, and poof, the link is broken. But you do need to periodically check.
  • There are a lot of tools that can check for broken links on your site (internal and external).
  • It is important to have a maintenance agreement with your web design firm so they keep on top of updates, look for broken links, and take care of them before they become a problem.
  • Make sure your site has a custom 404 error page. If a client ever gets a bad link, the least you can do is entertain them and offer help.

6. Out of date technology

Out of date technology is a common website mistake and it does not put you in a good light. Some brands are so strong they can get away with a terrible website, but for most of us, it degrades our credibility in the market and undermines the efforts of the sales team.

  • Does your site use flash or require a java plugin that makes user install updates just to view your site?
  • Does your google listing say “not secure”? If so, it’s time to add an SSL certificate to go from http:// to https://
  • Is your site responsive to mobile devices? This means, does it change and alter the shape and size of the user's screen? I have a client whose website traffic has changed to 75% of mobile traffic! If this is your situation, you better be optimizing that small screen experience. And by optimizing I mean not just letting the theme make responsive choices. Your web design firm needs to at a minimum takes your most viewed pages and make sure the mobile versions look fantastic and function smoothly.
  • If you have a WordPress site, has it been updated lately? It probably has old plugins that are now security risks. Hackers loooove outdated plugins. Some white hat hackers will just leave a message on your homepage for the world to see but black hat hackers… well, they will do things that are much more embarrassing to your website.

Websites are not “set-it-and-forget-it” types of things. They should evolve with your company and be an asset to your sales team. Not a burden or an embarrassment.

7. Small or Blurry photographs

While cheesy stock photography of handshakes may give a bad impression to potential customers, bad photography does even more to damage a company’s reputation. I get it, professional photographers can be pricey (totally worth every penny though) – check out the local college to find student photographers if you are on a budget.

However, you can also take great shots with your iPhone if you learn a few tricks. This is perfect for portfolio and blog photos, especially if you are in the building trade. You need to use your judgment here. Final photos of a high-profile project should be done by a professional but if you take some care, you should be able to satisfy your other photography needs yourself.

Sometimes you can share the cost of a professional photographer with other trades on the project. Make sure you get the proper rights for use… don’t let a buddy just send you a shot from their photographer. That can be an expensive mistake. Photo use rights are very specific. Don’t get caught by surprise.

Think about the goal of the photo. Many situations don't need to be perfect and high end. I'd much rather have the visual than not at all – so use your judgment.

Tips on being your own photographer

  • Take your time, be steady and focus your shot on what is important
  • Use a tripod to help you stay steady
  • Make sure the shot is straight and not at a weird angle
  • Make sure the shot is framed well
  • Look at what’s in the background (for the love of all that is holy!)
  • Touch the screen (on camera phones) on the subject of the photo to engage auto-focus
  • On some phones, you can swipe up or down to lighten or darken
  • If taking before and after shots – do it from the same angle to be believable (use a tripod)
  • Make sure there is decent lighting

We can’t stress this enough – PLEASE don’t take blurry, out of focus photos and upload them to your website. Just don’t do it – it looks terrible!

Also, don’t upload the full-sized version of the photo to your website. Some can be 10+MB and be a real burden to your site’s viewing speed.

If you want to promote your company as the professional, trustworthy experts you really are, get some high-quality photos taken. A professional photo shoot will do wonders for your online presence. It’ll also show your future customers that you care enough about how they perceive you that you invested in new, professional photos. It will also show the customer who owns the project you are photographing that you care about how they look.

8. Spelling errors

Grammar and spelling have taken a dive in the world of texting and emojis, but on a website, proper grammar and spelling are a basic requirement. If you’re publishing content that has spelling mistakes, random capital letters, and grammatical errors left right and center, you’re not making a good first impression. We all forgive an error here and there, but blatant and repetitive errors will damage your credibility. Use a proofreader to avoid this common website mistake. As I write this, I realize I need to double proof this article to not be a hypocrite.

Well-written copy is essential for so many reasons. How do people know what you do, get a feel for your personality, and why you’re better than your competitors? Your website’s content.

Your copy should match your company’s personality. If you’re friendly and laid back, your website’s content writing should be informal but professional. If your company is high-end and formal with its clients, your copy should reflect that.

It might sound unfair, but no one is going to hand over their hard-earned cash to someone that didn’t even bother to spell check their website.

  • Run spell check
  • Install my favorite proofing tool Grammarly to catch misspellings and grammatical errors. I love this tool so much. I think you will too. It can even catch properly spelled words when used incorrectly.

The Take-Away

Show Prospects You Care!

Think about and review all of the ways prospects and customers interact with your company.

Don’t let your website or other touchpoints (all the ways a prospect or client can interact with your company) sell your company short. Avoid these common website mistakes. We believe that companies who do damned-good work deserve to have a solid brand foundation and a website that matches their awesomeness.

We get that you're doing your best – balancing the day-to-day running of your business, directing/leading your team, trying to keep up with business development, and working hard to make sure customers are happy and projects are running smoothly.

We are here to help figure out what needs to change and manage the whole process for you.

Want to move your website forward and give your team and your prospects a website they can rely on? Let’s talk.

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Tracy O’Shaughnessy Founder / Lead Brand Strategist of Branding & Beyond

Tracy and her team help firms in and around the B2B building trades look and sound credible online and off.

She has been in the industry since the early '90s and is tired of seeing fantastic firms struggle, blend in, and get bypassed by prospects who judge them solely on the outdated information found online.

Branding & Beyond's mission is to solve real business problems and build the brand foundation clients need to get noticed and hired.

You can find Tracy on Linkedin and here on this blog.