How To Make Your Website More Customer-Friendly

Matt Giovanisci 0312Does your company have a website that, while functional, doesn’t generate any real sales? Your website shouldn't be an online billboard, it should act just like your store or service center. It should be engaging, useful, and serve as a way for you to get more customers.

Content is King - Always Has Been, Always Will Be

Does your site have any valuable information that people really need? Think about that question long and hard. In fact, put yourself in the customer’s shoes. What benefit does he get from your website?

If your website is just a place for people to find your store hours, a list of the services you offer and a photo gallery of pools you built, then it’s time for improvement. Your website should not be an online brochure. Brochures are dumb — there, I said it. 

Don’t get me wrong, you need these elements on your website, but you need a whole lot more too. 

Here are some ideas to improve the content on your website. The goal now is to keep current customers coming back and to cultivate new ones: 

1. Create high-quality videos of the pools you built rather than posting a static photo. Videos are mesmerizing. We love videos, and they’re so much more enjoyable than just staring a single photo. With video, you can tell a story and convince your web visitors you’re the company to choose. 

2. Create a photo gallery with multiple albums. If you do use photos (and you should), take lots of shots of the same pool. If you’re going to do a photo gallery, it’s important that it wows! Put your very best foot forward — hire a professional photographer, it’s totally worth it. 

3. Create how-to articles to help your customers at home. A customer might come to you for advice, but when they go home or get off the phone with you, they may forget or need additional assistance. Your website can be the perfect backup.  

“If you need any additional help, you can just visit our website and all the information you need is right there.” How great would it be to say that to your customers? 

The goal is to provide value outside of the just the products and services you offer for profit. Customers will recognize that you go above and beyond. That helps spread your brand via word of mouth.

Don’t Create A Website For Search Engines

When I first started my website, SwimUniversity.com, it was built for search engines. I wanted to rank for keywords in order for visitors to find me. My website did well in 2007 and 2008, but things have drastically changed since then.

I may get a lot of traffic, but not all traffic is equal. You want quality visitors over quantity. There’s nothing wrong with having 10 people visit your website a day if those visitors are spending time on it and contacting you because of it. It means they truly value the information on your site and have made a decision to trust you.

Just two months ago, I took a step back from my website and started asking myself some questions as if I were someone who owned a swimming pool and looking to find information on how to take care of it. It turns out that the structure of my site was hard to navigate. I was thinking like a pool professional instead of a pool owner.

Below is a video comparison of my 2011 site to my 2012 site and the changes I made to improve the user experience. 

That’s the key — user experience! If you’re a local business, forget trying to rank for specific keywords on Google and focus on making the site more user-friendly. Google will find your site and rank you high if it’s good. Trust me. 

The Design

When it comes to the internet, first impressions are everything. If you have a crappy website, no one will take you seriously. Trust me, when I see a bad website from a local company, it sends off a warning signal. It’s 2012! Hire a professional and get yourself an appealing website that doesn’t scare away customers.

This is a true story: My friend bought a brand new power boat this year. When he was shopping, he wanted to buy from a dealer close to where he was going to dock the boat. The only local boat dealer had a website so terrible, my friend didn't even consider buying from him. Why? He lives in D.C. and the deal was in New Jersey. The website provided no value for him to do any sort of research and therefore, he had to look elsewhere. I wouldn’t be surprised if that company lost a lot of business because of their awful website. 

Take Action

2013 is right around the corner, and I hope to see people in the industry do amazing things on the internet. I have seen some wow-worthy projects this year, but I believe next year is the year of internet marketing for the pool industry.

I want you to share your thoughts, issues and advice. Let’s start a conversation in the comments below.

If you are interested in learning more about online marketing for your pool business, sign up for my soon-to-be-launched blog all about promoting your business on a budget, PoolBusinessMarketing.com, and follow me on Twitter.

I can’t wait to read the comments. Happy swimming!

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