Website Features You Don’t Really Need

That barrage of options and possibilities can be hard to resist, which is why so many websites begin to look more like Frankenstein’s monster than Prince Charming. All of those website features — the widgets and toolkits and plugins — begin to add up.

You may think you’re a marketer by day and a consumer by night, but considering the number of marketing tools, services, experts, and ideas we’re bombarded with every day, we’re consumers even while wearing our marketing hats.

That barrage of options and possibilities can be hard to resist, which is why so many websites begin to look more like Frankenstein’s monster than Prince Charming. All of those website features — the widgets and toolkits and plugins — begin to add up.

It’s true that some live up to their promise, but all that noise these features create can blunt the effectiveness of your site.

Put more bluntly, you think you want website features. What you really want is effectiveness. Here’s how to keep your website on track.

Evaluate Web Marketing Tools Individually

Begin by evaluating any new feature you are tempted to include against your goals. Which goal(s) will it help you reach and what effort and resources will reaching those goals require? In other words, establish an expected ROI for the tool that you can measure its contribution against.

Evaluate Web Marketing Tools as a Whole

Examine the effort and resources mentioned above should also lead you to reviewing the new tool in relation to existing tools already in place. Is the new tool a 1:1 replacement of an existing tool? If so, can you A/B test them against one another?

Will the new tool work in tandem with an existing tool? Will it have an impact on that tool’s effectiveness? Is there still a net gain overall?

Evaluate Web Marketing Tools from Your Audience’s Perspective

Part of the ROI calculations above have to include audience attitudes and expectations. It would be great to know each prospect’s budget right from the start, but a new tool that asks for that information is going to drive your traffic down. Way, way down.

Real-world examples aren’t going to be that cut-and-dried, which circles us back to the idea of testing new tools whenever possible before implementing them across your entire marketing plan.

The One Feature Your Website Really Needs

More than anything else, you want a nimble website. One that helps you present a relevant message to each audience segment. One that speaks to prospects at each step in their buying cycle. One that encourages engagement and provides you with the opportunity to connect with prospects as they near their decision point.

Add all the bells and whistles you think will be effective, but track their impact on your web marketing metrics and make sure they support your ultimate goal — conversions.

Improving Website Engagement Means Getting Your Site Visitors to Stay

Getting website visitors to stick around is critical in moving them through the buying cycle. Here are the aspects of your site to focus on to increase engagement and conversion.

On Saturday mornings, the station my clock radio is set to play “Living on Earth,” a show about environmental topics. After a brief intro on the show’s topics, the host Steve Kirwood says, “Stick around!” before cutting over to the local news.

I’m not sure if his jaunty delivery makes more people stay tuned in through the news break, but it sure has stuck in my head. And it comes to mind today, because getting visitors to stick around on your website is a critical component in your site’s marketing and lead generation success. Here are some tips for encouraging deeper website engagement.

What’s in It for Them?

Make it impossible for your audience to miss what’s in it for them. Forget your years of experience and and your awards and how great you are. That’s not going to get them to stick around. (Yet.) More on this below. Make sure your value proposition is front-and-center.

Be Entertaining

Often overlooked in the focus on being informative — which clearly is critical — you should also pay attention to whether your content that is fun to read, view or listen to.

B2B shouldn’t mean “Boring to Boring.”

We’re all people — even when we’re in the office — and we all like to enjoy even the mundane moments of our day. No, you’re not likely to make your B2B site as bingeworthy as the latest Netflix hit, but you can make people smile. And that’s going to help keep them engaged.

Be Informative

Because you can’t be Netflix, you have to be valuable. It’s just that simple. People aren’t coming to your site primarily to be entertained, anyway; they’re coming to learn more about how they might solve a business problem. Help them do that, and they’ll not only stick around longer, they’ll be back more frequently.

Write Well

All of the above implies good writing, but it’s worth pointing out that your content has to compete with a lot — not just other firms offering the same service, but all the fun stuff on social media and everywhere else. You have to craft more-than-passable prose.

If you can afford to hire a good writer, do so. Work with her or him often enough so he or she knows your company and your products inside and out and can craft a strong story.

If budget is an issue and you have to do the writing yourself even though you’re not 100% confident in your skills, go against your instinct to write less. Write more. The more you write, the more quickly your writing will go from questionable (or wherever it is now) to captivating. That’s your goal.

Perspective Matters

In your writing and the way you organize your site, think from your prospect’s perspective. If you’ve presented your value proposition properly, you’re well on your way. Keep that value central to all your writing, as well as your site’s navigational controls and structure. Even your calls to action should follow this principal and answer the question, “What would someone who’s just consumed this piece of content be interested in next?”

Ask for the Sale

Speaking of calls to action, find the balance between overdoing it and never doing it. You may not be literally asking for a sale, but you should be asking your audience to take the next step in building a relationship with you. Get them to take that next step by making the next step logical and rewarding.

Track Engagement

With these ideas implemented on your site, you should see an increase in engagement metrics, like average session time and number of pages viewed per session. You are tracking these data points, aren’t you?

By they way, if you’re wondering why I have an alarm set on Saturday mornings, so am I. Our dogs always have me up before the alarm goes off, anyway …