Marketing Yourself with a Website

Why would you ever want to market yourself?

I can think of a few reasons. Maybe you want to get a job. Maybe you want to sign a client. Maybe you want to grow a following outside of your 9-5.

Whatever your reason, it’s important to know how to market yourself. Even if you don’t have a reason now, you never know when the time will come when you need (or want) a new job. And if you’ve been preparing all along, the task won’t seem as daunting.

Yesterday we discussed how to market yourself with LinkedIn. Today, let’s talk about how to market yourself with a website.

Having your own personal website puts you in control of your online persona. Instead of relying on a pre-built platform like Facebook or LinkedIn, a website puts all the power in your hands. You can customize the way it looks, the content you share, and how people can interact with you.

To be clear, a website does not replace a LinkedIn profile. Rather, you should have both. But you should use your personal website to help attract potential clients or employers.

On your website you can write articles, or link to others you’ve published outside your own website. You can link to your resume and LinkedIn profile. You can add a simple contact form and list other ways people might get in touch with you.

Your website should highlight your past achievements, showcase content or projects that you put together, and tell people why you’re an expert in any given area.

And when you do apply for a job, include your personal website on your resume and in the application process. Many employers will ask for your site URL directly. Having one helps you stand out from the crowd.

What to Put Above the Fold

The fold is the most important thing on your website that most often gets ignored.

What is the fold?

The fold is the term we give to that magical line that gets drawn across any web page based on the size of the monitor a visitor is using. It divides the top from the bottom. Everything above the fold is visible. Everything below it is not (until I scroll down).

So what should you care?

You need to care about the fold because you need to know how few people will actually see what’s going on below it. Web usability tests have proven time and time again that a very low percentage of your web visitors will scroll. If it’s not on the screen when they land on the page, it’s lost.

So what belongs above the fold?

  1. Identifying information, such as your company name and logo
  2. All navigation items
  3. Contact information
  4. Your sales message
  5. Your call to action
  6. Any pricing details of purchase buttons

So what belongs below the fold?

Nothing if you can help it. But I know that’s not always a reasonable solution, so my simple answer is anything that is secondary to the purpose of that page. Usually this includes a bottom navigation with terms of use and a privacy policy, links to partners and affiliates, or secondary sales messages that are not necessary to sell a new visitor.

If it’s important (and not everything is) put it below the fold and be sure to know that it won’t get as much traffic as you’d like.

The #1 Most Underrated Page on Any Website

Think a great home page is all you need to increase visibility and drive more sales? Maybe it’s the ideal product page that will boost your business to the next level?

Think again. The most underrated page on your, and any, website is…drum roll please…the 404 Error page.

Call me crazy, but everyone knows how frustrating it is to try to navigate someone’s website only to get trapped on the same old error page. “You appear to be looking for a page that does not exist (You idiot)”. It causes nightmares, it causes panic, and sometimes, it causes you to leave the site.

If your business relies on your website to drive traffic and sales, you cannot afford to lose potential business because of a 404 Error. Regardless of how careful you are, how simple your site is, and how smart your consumers may be, people will still land on this page. But you can change the nature of the experience simply by paying attention to how that page looks and behaves.

  1. Make it more personal. Instead of boring, technical speak, why not craft something with a little bit of compassion, or even humor? The visitor will feel a little less detached, and is more likely to stick it out on the site.
  2. Highlight contact information. Either I made a mistake, or the website made a mistake. And the best way to solve the problem is to get in touch with a human being on the other end who can walk me through this.
  3. Call out the most important pages on your site. Link to highly trafficked areas so that the potential customer does not have a hard time “starting over”.
  4. A more advanced option is to write a script (or potentially find one online) that looks at the incorrect URL and guesses where the visitor was trying to go. This provides them with a Google-like “Did you mean ____?” experience.

Don’t get me wrong, the 404 page is not the one most responsible for your lack of business. But it is the one page that most often goes unchanged or ignored for years at a time.

Selling something? Then SELL it

Marketing is selling. You’re selling an idea, a concept, a product, an image, a dream, a service. You’re selling something, and you want to convey as much as you can, quickly and clearly, so that I know what you’re selling and why I should care.

Last week I wrote about the art of copywriting. Your website is an extension of that message. And since so much business is done online these days, it may be the most important marketing tool that you have.

A few years ago I came up with the following acronym which should help you create a website that truly SELLs:

Strike. Hit me with some solid information right away.  Don’t make me look for it, because the attention span of someone searching the internet is short, and getting shorter every day.  Catch my eye with headlines, have clear website navigation, allow me to search for exactly what I need.

Educate. Give me value in descriptions.  Too many companies put the same boring descriptions of the products that they are selling.  If your competitors’ description is the same as your description, you are not making my decision process any easier.  If you need to hire an expert copywriter for your site, do it.  Anything to get a unique, value-driven message across that will entice me to buy.

Leap. Take a risk.  If you are afraid to take risks in business you will lose.  At this point, you have my attention, I have gotten to the product that I am interested in, and all it will take is one small thing to sway me one way or another.  So do something different.  Show me customer ratings, comments, descriptions.  Show me the prices of your competitors compared to your own.  Offer me a special deal as a first time buyer.  Make it easy and make it different, and you will have an easier time convincing me.

Lead. On every single page, put a call to action.  And make it stand out so I know exactly what it is I am supposed to be doing.  After all, your goal all along is to make a sale, so lead me down the sales line throughout every step of the process.  If I get lost, then your sale is lost.

Strike, Educate, Leap, and Lead.  Take a look at the pages on your website.  If you have a page that looks like it was made from a carbon copy of one of your competitors, you are losing.  If you have a page with no call to action, you are losing.  If you are not taking risks and being unique, you are losing.  This is a new era of selling online, and you need to keep up or lead to win.