This may sound overly simple, but when planning a new website for your professional services firm be sure you think about the humans who will be reading it—especially if you are a technology firm. We regularly interview leaders of successful professional services firms to learn about their marketing practices. They consistently credit their long-term success to strong client relationships.
I find it interesting that, even for technology-focused firms, the human element is still the key to success.
Instinctively, we know that genuine connection and trust are crucial elements in any relationship, but that’s often overlooked in the rush share the details of your products, technology, or services. So slow down and remember that all business relationships start with an introduction.
According to a recent Hinge Research Institute study, Beyond Referrals: How Today’s Buyers Check You Out, prospects search for services online more than 63% of the time. The first place they are introduced to you is your website. In fact, the vast majority (actually more than 80%) of your prospects are checking out your website before they decide whether to contact you. Of course, if you are a technology firm, you need to showcase you tech solution on your website, but you must also find ways to make your firm relatable from a human perspective.
If your firm’s website is filled with technical jargon or “corporate-speak,” you won’t hold the reader’s attention, much less capture their imagination or spur them to action. Even if a prospect can comprehend the particular technology solution you offer, they may find it difficult to get a feel for who you are, and what it is like working with you. More importantly, if you are focusing on the technology solution, a prospect may not see how you can help them solve their specific challenge, or how you might be different than the other firms they are considering.
If those answers aren’t immediately obvious, your visitors will not engage. If they do not engage they’ll look elsewhere and you lose out. I refer to this as the “bounce effect.”
To help you combat the bounce, consider using these 3 elements of website planning that have proven useful in increasing engagement.
1. Showcase What Makes You Unique
Most firms build a business on a few key elements. These are the differentiators you want to be known for. For instance, your key differentiator could be your company’s history of innovation, your focus on supplying the U.S. Navy, the applications you develop for financial institutions or, as is the case with Hinge, a dedication to research and open sharing of findings.
These essential traits must be obvious on your website. If you talk about them on your home and main pages, and use your graphic elements to display them (both literally and figuratively), then your prospect will get a very clear idea of who you are.
2. Don’t be Shy, Introduce Yourself
Your website the place to introduce your company. It should also introduce your people and give them a platform (a blog) to share their knowledge and their story.
Highlighting your people and their expertise helps in several ways:
- It shows you are proud of your staff and their accomplishments. Go ahead and boast about their degrees and expertise.
- It gives them personality and makes your firm memorable. When possible, sprinkle your team bios with a few snippets about their hobbies and special interests. Little details capture your reader’s attention, like the CEO’s passion for snowboarding, or the accountant’s sideline as a playwright.
- It demonstrates openness and transparency. Being able to put a face with a name makes a prospect feel more at ease when reaching out to a new firm. They can also see your bench strength and know who they might be working with.
- If gives you an SEO boost. Your employees who are industry experts, and are probably being searched for by name. Help them be found on your company website—it enhances your firm’s reputation online, as well.
- It multiplies your firm’s social media strength. Empowering and urging your employees to share your firm’s social media messages through their own LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ accounts is a highly effective way to grow your social media reach—especially if your blogs are SEO optimized for keywords that your prospects will be Googling.
3. Write Like You Speak
Probably the best way to engage a prospect is to write plainly. Write like you’re having a conversation. As you build out content on your website, imagine a relaxed chat with a prospect over coffee. In that context, you probably would not use convoluted sentences full of jargon and techno-speak (If you did, you’d soon see eyes glazing over).
Explain your business in terms non-technical readers can understand and put into their own context. This doesn’t mean you should avoid technical terms. In fact, you should highlight them—particularly if they are important search keywords. But be sure to explain them in language anyone will understand. Not only will your prospects appreciate the education, they will begin to trust you as a source of information.
Making your firm’s website appealing to your prospects can be done in both simple and sophisticated ways. The key when undertaking website planning is to remember that your prospects genuinely want to know who you are, what you can do, and what makes you unique.
If you would like more information on incorporating these ideas, check out our Website Planning Guide.
- Our Lead Generating Website Guide details how your firm can generate qualified leads with its website.
- Ensure that your website and content gets found online with Hinge’s SEO Guide for Professional Services.