Are you giving your customers what they’re looking for?

One thing I think small business owners overlook when getting started with a new website is what their customers are actually looking for. These clients come to us with their dreams and wishlists, which is great. But often times, they are so caught up in thinking of what they want their website to do, they forget to think about what their customers want it to do.

And the truth is, if you aren’t meeting the needs of your customer, you’re missing the boat.

If you want to see a return on your investment when it comes to a new website, then you have to first and foremost plan for what your customers are expecting, what they need, and what they want.

Step one is figuring out who your target audience is. That’s the first question I ask any potential client. Who is your target audience? And frequently the answer is “everyone!” This is almost never true. Unless your website is the newest amazon.com, your customer is more than likely not “everyone.”

When getting started with a new website project, ask yourself who your ideal customer is. If you are in real estate, then it’s typically a new home buyer. That’s easy enough, but you really need to go even deeper than that. What’s your market like? The typical home buyer in San Diego is likely going to be different than your typical homebuyer in St. Louis. These are different markets with different buyers with different budgets who are often looking for different things when buying a new home.

Are you a contractor? If so, what kind of contracting work do you really want to do? Do you want to do home remodeling projects? New home building projects? Commercial building? Asphalt and paving? There are a lot of specialties. Do you have to pick just one? No. But if you go with a generic answer to the question of who your target audience is, then you may not get the result you want. If you are a contractor who only does custom concrete work, then you don’t really want to target remodeling clients, right? And if you are a contractor who wants to work on commercial products, then your target audience isn’t a residential homeowner.

One time someone answered my target audience question with “kids between the ages of 6 and 14.” They said this because they were selling kids’ clothing and toys. But are six year olds shopping online for clothes? No. The correct answer was parents of kids ages 6-14. Why does this matter? Because their idea was to create a website that kids would like. But kids aren’t buying online, the parents are buying. So it’s super important to plan that website for the parents of those kids, and not for the kids themselves.

So now you know you need to narrow your audience, the next step is to figure out what the target audience is looking for when they are on your site. 

Every person who comes to your website does so with a purpose. Figure out that purpose and open the door to a bigger ROI. Click To Tweet

Trust me on this, people are landing on your website with a purpose. If you’re a contractor, then the person who lands on your website is not there because they accidentally hit your website, it’s because something brought them there and that is usually because they have some kind of interest in what you offer. (And no, I’m not including your friends and family who are just there to check out your website.)

You know that if someone is on your website, then that is more than likely a potential customer. What are they looking for? Why are they there? Knowing the answer to this question is important.

Let’s use the contractor as an example. If someone lands on a contracting website, then they are likely looking for contracting work. What information do they want when they are looking to hire a contractor? They need to know what type of services they offer. This is where it’s important to be clear what kind of work you do. Do you do concrete? Custom home builds? Do you specialize in bathroom remodeling? Be clear on what you offer.

Once you have your specialty nailed down, the next question is going to be “Is this contractor any good?” How do you show your worth on a website? Just saying, “I’m the best!” isn’t good enough. You need to show examples of your work. Are you the best bathroom remodeler in your area? Then we need to see photos. And not just after photos, your customers want before and after photos of your work so people can really see the value of your work.

(And while I’m here, let me be clear and say that the photos need to be clear, not grainy, and enlargeable. Don’t just put in a small photo taken with your phone.)

Check out the before and after photos on this website we built for Oakmont Custom Homes. This is a great example of really showcasing before and after photos to engage your customers.

Knowing who your customer is and what they are looking for when they land on your website is the key to converting site visitors into customers. Click To Tweet

What if I don’t know who my customer is or what they are looking for?

Then you need to find out, BEFORE you start on a new website or else you are wasting your money. If you don’t know the answer, there are a lot of ways to do market research and there are even companies that will do this research for you. Here are a few ideas to help you:

  • Look at your competitors’ websites. What do they have? What are they doing? You can often get a good idea of what your customers want by checking out what your competition thinks your customers want.
  • Hire a market research company to find out for you.
  • Ask your colleagues for advice. If you know other people in your field, talk to them. Working with your colleagues is a great resource, not just for you but for them too.
  • Use Facebook Insights to help you know who your visitors are. If you have a Facebook page for your visitor and it has more than handful of likes (and those likers aren’t just your family) you can use that information to find out who is interacting with you. There is a ton of demographic data in Facebook that can help you determine who your customers are.
  • Ask your current customers! If you have active or past clients, there is a wealth of information that is just an email away. ASK!

Knowing the reason why customers land on your site will allow you to tailor their website experience so that site visitor can become your next customer. Giving the user what they want will make a huge difference in the outcome of your online presence.

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Amy Masson

Amy is co-owner of Sumy Designs, LLC. When not creating websites, she can be found writing restaurant reviews at Lafayette Eats, tweeting at @amymasson, and geeking out about all things WordPress.