The Three Questions Your Website Must Answer

If your website is selling a product or service, it needs to answer three fundamental questions in order to connect with your customer: What do you offer?
Why should they buy from you? How do they buy it? If the answers are not there, your site is not giving your customers what they need to work through their buying process and buy from you instead of clicking on to the next website and buying from your competitor. The more effectively you can get them to work through their buying process, the easier it is to make sales. Sounds simple, right?

That said, I’ve seen groups of entrepreneurs often discover that it’s not that simple. In our Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center Marketing and Advertising Workshop, we have participants pair off and look at each other’s website. We then ask if that website quickly communicates what the other person is selling, why it should be purchased from them and how it can be purchased. Inevitably, participants start getting the hard truth about their online presence. The room’s mood then darkens as most of them realize that their website is just not answering those questions. For businesses today with limited time, money and energy to spend on marketing, that’s a hard lesson to learn. For start-ups, it’s even harder.

Let’s look at each question and make sure that’s not happening to you. Is your website communicating what it needs to so that your business can grow?

Question 1 – What do you offer?

As a visitor to your site, will I know what I can buy from you and what it does for me? I’m often amazed at how hard that question is for a lot of websites to answer, especially

for start-ups. Take a look at Hello Health. It does a good job of describing what the site does for doctors. It’s a start-up focused on helping doctors increase profitability. Its home page is quite clear at providing that information. The headline “Hello Health is the free EHR that generates new revenue for your practice” and the tagline “New Revenue. You’ve Earned it.” present what it is that Hello Health does for doctors. From there, a “solutions” tab shows simple icons, product titles and brief descriptions that further detail Hello Health’s offerings.

Question 2 – Why should I buy from you?

Answering this question takes the most work. People buy products and services from companies that are relevant to them. These companies hit a set of internal triggers each of us has when we’re looking to make a purchase. To be relevant and hit those triggers, you have to understand how your offering is uniquely connected to your customer’s needs. We at Popskull call that unique connection your Common Ground and finding it is Step 1 to communicating why people should buy from you.

Step 2 is translating that relevant connection into what your customers will see, hear and read across your website and marketing materials. That means developing comprehensive, consistent copy and designs that work together and effectively communicate that connection. If you’re not comprehensive and consistent, in today’s mass media world where people are inundated with messages, they will deem you less relevant and pass you by.

Take a look at Fitocracy. They sure tell you about themselves and their ability to motivate you on the road to fitness, but do they show you? Sure, it’s “clean”, as many people today are in the habit of asking for, but does it visually support the copy and separate it from the growing pack of apps with cleanly designed websites? By looking at the website, can you see the connection to people who want to be motivated? Is Fitocracy a company that gets you off the couch and onto the treadmill?

Question 3 – How do I buy from you?

If you’re selling through the website, make it easy for me to order or download. If you are paying for brick and mortar locations, make it simple to find the nearest location. Tell me how much it is and what I get for it. If it’s free, tell me. And put this all on the home page.

BarkBox answers the “What do they offer” question right away: “A Monthly Box of Dog Goodies”. They then make it extremely clear on how to buy from them with a big, green “Get Started” button. Once more, through understanding the connection to their audience, they’ve realized their offering is something people would like to gift. So an equally prominent “Give as Gift” button sits under “Get Started”.

Answering from the Common Ground.

Taken together, answering these questions seems logical, simple and straightforward. It’s very easy to think that you’ve got them covered. But in our experience, the frequency of these questions being left unanswered puts the odds against you. Wherever you are with your site right now, whether just getting started or live, make sure it’s answering these questions to get it selling.

As you go through these questions, take care not to fall into the entrepreneurs’ trap. Keep in mind your Common Ground and don’t dictate design, user experience and copy from your armchair. This creates an egocentric brand with a tenuous connection to its consumers. Steve Jobs was unique in that he had a firm grasp on that connection between technology, the user and his competition. But even Steve Jobs had Jon Ive and Lee Clow. So make sure to be open to others, preferably the target market, and get in on what they think.

So, tell us, is your website answering these 3 questions? We’d love to know. ❒

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