How to build a better website

Posted on November 3, 2010


build a better website
Another great FutureM Conference session was “A Webiste Makeover Event: The Future Face of Digital Business.” As a person who helps companies build better websites, I was particularly interested in this event.

The speakers:

Richard Banfield – CEO of Fresh Tilled Soil, which designs web interfaces for entrepreneurs.

Chris Merrill – CEO of Super Web-o-Matic, which provides affordable custom designed websites that generate more leads for your small business.

Jonathan Kay – Head of Buzz Deparment at Grasshoppper, a company providing entrepreneurs with a suite of products that help them succeed.

Dave Cancel – CEO of Performable, a provider of web analytics software that provides instant results.

Here’s an excerpt from their presentations.

1. Richard Banfield (Fresh Tilled Soil)

“Advertising is the price you pay for being boring.”

How to be awesome:

* Revolve around human stories
* Cause an immediate behavior
* Provide immediate access to a product or service
* Create conversations
* Ignore CEO preferences.

Richard gave the example of how Mint.com has changed how people view finances. There is a call to action on every page.

2. Chris Merrill (Super Web-o-matic)

To make a website great:

* Focus on the message
* Have the least amount of elements on a page
* Avoid ‘controlled’ environments, e.g. free trials with limited features or limited time
* Put your product in customers’ hands, engage your customers and really listen to them!
* Capture and share your customers’ stories
* Help to create authentic experiences for your customers
* Put your energy and focus into creating great products.

Chris went into more detail about listening to your customers. He suggested that you ask your customers the following questions:

*Can you show me how you use our product?
*How else can you use our product?
*How can I fix what’s not working about our product?

3. Jonathan Kay (Grasshopper)

His advice:

*Reach out to reporters with an interesting story. Help out reporters and they will help you.
*Add value first and the sale will follow
*Go where your customers are. Attend the same events they do; make friends with them.
*Listen more than you talk
*Have a senior person from your company call the customer a week or so after they’ve bought your product. Ask them how it is going.
*Promote your customers
*Be human and create a real human connection to your customers
*Create a culture of responsibility. Let your employees know that you care about them.
*Empower your employees; give them the tools they need so they can make the best use of their instincts.

4. Dave Cancel (Performable)

Marketing has evolved from:

outbound – creating brand awareness to
inbound – creating great content to draw in customers to
lifecycle – focusing on converting leads and creating passinate users.

This doesn’t all happen on your company’s website. To build strong customer relationships, you need multiple touch points. Your message should be consistent across all these touchpoints.

You also need to tie in marketing and customer service. “Companies that are best at marketing don’t look like they’re marketing. Apple is a great example of this.”

Believe it or not, email is still the most used tool for communicating.

There is no one magic bullet for converting leads to customers.

My conclusions from this very interesting session:

*Make your website interesting, authentic and interactive.
*Be human.
*Have all your communication channels consistent.
*Tie in your marketing with your customer service.

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