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7 Things Business Websites Need to Stop Doing, Part II

business website mistakes - part 2Hopefully, you’ve read Part I of this two-parter so you know where we’re at. Let’s just jump right in then.

Your Website Can’t Make Everyone Happy
Businesses have this strange sense that they can’t focus on a target audience without making some other important demographic feel “left out”. They ask their web guy to design a generic website that will make everyone content and not offend anyone. Unfortunately, that just doesn’t work. There will be people out there who are offended because of your choice of fonts, and people who won’t be happy with your website precisely because it’s appeal is so generic.

The correct answer is to focus on the segment of the population that is most likely to actually spend money at your store (or your website), but leave clear lines of service open to other segments as well. If you’re a grocery store, for example, you might try catering to wanna-be chefs or haggard moms (depending on the income level you’re targeting) — but leave sidebars on the site with mini-ads designed to appeal to the organic crowd, grillin’ dads, and so forth.

Social Marketing: No One Gives A Damn About Your Brand
Back in the ’80s, a genius marketer published a wonderful book called Positioning that told businesses how to present their businesses so that consumers would have an easy time recognizing the brand and associating values with it. Unfortunately, most businesses have assumed that the same rules that apply for advertising will also apply to social marketing…and they don’t.

The correct answer is to focus your social marketing on people, not on your brand. No one gives a damn about your brand — but they LOVE to hear honest, genuine thoughts from the people that work at your company. Microsoft did this with Channel 9. Alternately, you can do what Ford did — find a dozen or so “social superstars”. These are ordinary people who happen to have large social networks and love communicating with them. Ford found a hundred of them and simply gave away Ford Fiestas to each of them. The result? Those hundred people talked up a storm, recruited other people to talk with them, and ended up creating hundreds of thousands of Facebook posts, Tweets, and YouTube videos about the Fiesta — much more talk than the cost of those hundred cars would have bought Ford if they had spend the money on commercials.

Your Website Is a Tool for Other People, Not a Mirror For You
Lots of business websites aren’t intended for end users at all — they’re clearly built so that the business in question can preen and the CEO can look at the website when he needs an ego boost. If you look at your website and it’s full of industry jargon, big graphics of the awards you’ve won, and so forth, you’re guilty.

The correct answer is to ask yourself what your clients most want to do with or about your product online, and give it to them. Consult with your web designer, and develop a tool, not Narcissus’ pond.

You Have to Cut Something Eventually
One of the hallmarks of an early-adopting company’s website is clutter. Many companies seem to have this notion that because they can always pay for a larger hosting space, there’s no need for them to ever take anything away from their website. That’s a huge problem, because end users have no desire whatsoever to deal with all of the flotsam and jetsam.

The correct answer is simple: don’t have anything up on your website that isn’t getting used. Your Analytics should quickly point out sites that haven’t gotten a visit in three or more months — unless it’s there for legal reasons (like your Privacy Policy), anything falling into that category needs to be stripped or redesigned so that people will actually use it.

So, there you have it — if you’re a business, you’re probably guilty of one or more of these things. Like it or not, it’s something that you can — and should — try to get back on track as efficiently as possible.

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