When I first meet with prospective clients at Blue Fountain Media, I make a point of listening more than talking. Before I can strategize, design and execute a web project, it is essential that I understand everything I can about the client’s business.
The key question I always ask is: what differentiates you from your competition?
If a business owner can’t answer this question definitively, then there’s no way to convince a prospective client or customer. A surprising number of business owners have a hard time putting into words exactly what makes their companies unique, different or superior to their competition.
When people ask me what differentiates Blue Fountain Media, I can say, without hesitation, that “we create results-driven websites and marketing solutions.” By focusing on results (increased targeted traffic, increased conversions and significant ROI) we tell our audience that we understand the real goals of doing business online and not just how to design a website.
Once you've defined the value proposition of your business, then it is far easier to design a website and an online marketing program geared to presenting your value proposition clearly and immediately.
Take a look at the image atop this column. As you can see, Blue Fountain Media delivers our “results-driven” message forcefully and then give a clear call to action (“view our work”) so that visitors are immediately engaged. Within two seconds, visitors also see a sampling of our clients and are invited to watch our portfolio video.
The effects of this kind of messaging are low bounce rates (people leaving the site after visiting only one page) and high conversion rates (visitors calling our office or requesting a quote online).
Understanding Online User Behavior
When you are doing business online, it is essential that you capture your visitors’ attention immediately and give them a reason to stay.
Studies on online attention spans range from four seconds to 10 seconds to get your visitor’s attention. With tabbed browsing, the attention span is even shorter. The fact of the matter is that web visitors have literally millions of options.
To get their attention, you must have crystal clear messaging. You have to tell people what you do or sell and tell them why your services or products are better than anyone else out there. This is no small task.
If you are in a highly competitive business, this is especially important. If someone is looking for a florist, limo service, day spa or even a plastic surgeon online, they are going to be looking at multiple websites. Since it is so easy to comparison shop online, if your website doesn't shout your value proposition, your visitor will click the back button and move on to the next site.
Take a look at what happens when someone is looking for a limousine in New York City:
There are pages and pages of results. Unless your website can immediately show your value proposition (great price, special services, niche markets, etc.) you are going to lose out to one of a hundred competitors.
Strong Messaging by Ford
Here’s a great example of a website that gets it.
The automotive industry is extremely competitive. As you can see from the image below, Ford’s web team had the task of promoting two energy efficient cars, the Focus SE and the Fiesta SE.
The first thing you see is “MPG that’s OMG.” In one second you know that Ford is selling cars with great mileage and you can see that Ford is targeting the Focus and Fiesta models to a young web-savvy audience. The cars are displayed attractively along with the MPG ratings. There is no clutter, no distractions.
Visitors don’t have to search for the message- it is presented on a silver platter.
Keys to Messaging
So what’s the best way to get your message across?
- Have a strong, central message: This is not as easy as it sounds. Think in terms of an elevator pitch. You should be able to deliver your value proposition in as few words as possible. In other words, GET TO THE POINT!
- Avoid huge blocks of text: Your home page is not the place for long, explanatory passages. It is a gateway to your primary content.
- Avoid clutter: It is important to have your message isolated and not surrounded by a dozen other secondary messages.
- Strong calls to action: The objective of any business website is to drive consumer behavior. Make sure it is easy and intuitive for your visitors to take that desired action.
On the web, you have precious little time to get your message across. Clear messaging can mean the difference between a new client or customer for you or a new client or customer for your competition.