By Kevin Howell
How good is your elevator pitch?
Is it a bit rusty? Is it too long? Is it clear?
Do people know what you sell, and more importantly, how it can benefit them in the 15-seconds you have with them in the ride from the lobby to the fifth floor?
As a small business owner, you’ve probably mastered this short spiel because you’ve done a lot of networking.
But is your website elevator pitch as effective?
Because in the digital world, everything is accelerated. That 30-second pitch you give verbally? Well, you only have 0.05 seconds to make a case on your website.
You read that right: 0.05 SECONDS!
Studies show that you have less than 1 second to grab a website visitor’s interest before they bounce from your site. So you better make the headline, first words, and images on your site count.
The problem I see is many companies have a killer design, but poor brand messaging just kills business.
It’s like watching a movie trailer. The special effects look cool, and the film may star an actor you like, but after the 30-second clip, you don’t know what the hell the movie is about.
So here’s why your website isn’t drawing new business, and what you can do to improve it.
YOUR MESSAGING LACKS CLARITY
One of the biggest problems with businesses is the language they use on their site rambles. It doesn’t get to the point. And when you only have milliseconds to make an impression, you can’t be too wordy or vague.
I’m sure your business has great products, and your services can meet a bunch of needs, but you can’t stuff every feature onto the home page, especially not in the first lines visitors see.
Focus on one thing.
Just ONE thing.
A visitor should be able to click on your site, read the first few words, and know what your business does. Not everything your business does, but the main thing your business does.
Express what your business does in the clearest, most concise, and compelling way. This may take some time and practice. But your digital elevator pitch must be as quick and impactful as a Mike Tyson jab (well, Tyson circa 1988 anyway).
Your main headline should be 10 words or less. Short, sweet, and irresistible.
Thumbtack (above) gives a quick-hit headline in four words along with an image that gives a visual depiction of the headline. It’s strong enough to lead readers down the page to more specific information: “We help you hire experienced professionals…”
YOU USE INSIDER LANGUAGE
The problem most business owners have either when describing their business or writing about it is using too much jargon or insider language.
You know your industry and business like you know your way home. But the average visitor doesn’t.
Chances are, you know your business so well that it’s difficult to articulate it. You live it, you breathe it, you eat it…but talking about it in laymen’s terms is challenging.
Unfortunately, that translates into your website content. It lacks clarity because you’re too close to the operation. Sometimes, having an outside person help with your messaging works wonders because he/she asks simple questions to bring clarity to what your business does and can communicate to your target audience.
YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS’ FEATURES, NOT ITS BENEFITS
It’s not about your business.
If there’s one thing you need to remember in your marketing content, it’s that your business is about your customers. You already knew that? Then why doesn’t your content express it?
Here’s a simple test. Look through your website. How many times do you use the word “we” or “our” vs. “you.” The most important word in website content is you.
“You” refers to your customer or potential customers. Everything on the site is written to them. Use second-person instead of third-person. It’s more personal. The visitor will feel like you’re speaking directly to him/her instead of some persona.
(Again, Thumbtack is a good example of this. Notice “you or your” is mentioned three times in headline content, while “we” is only used once.)
Likewise, you shouldn’t emphasize your product or service features. No one cares about the features. They care about the benefits.
Let me explain.
When you talk about features, you’re descriptive. That’s fine and dandy on another page of your website, but not on the home page. The core content of your homepage, and other pages as well, you should talk about the benefits customers receive from your products or services.
Features are descriptive. Benefits are emotional.
That’s right, you’re trying to touch the emotions here. Why? Because you’re trying to make a connection with the visitor. And people connect emotionally, not intellectually.
Highlighting the benefits makes the visitor dig deeper, and then they’ll learn about the features. But it’s the benefits that draw them in.
A great example is Airbnb. Below is a screenshot of the company’s page in 2008. Sure, the headline is short and to the point. But it lacks an emotional pull or a benefit.
Now look at the Airbnb page from 2015. The headline simply says, “Welcome Home,” with a picture of a couple on a beautiful beach vacation.
Now, which page gives you greater emotional impact? Which page makes you want to book a getaway now? You can do the same with your site.
YOU DON’T HAVE A CLEAR CALL-TO-ACTION
If you have a captivating headline on your homepage that is succinct, clearly states what your business is about, and focuses on the benefits, you can still miss out on potential business without a proper call-to-action (CTA).
A CTA is simply an instruction that tells a visitor what to do next. You’re fighting for peoples’ attention in an endless universe of websites. Even if you have a clear message, customers may leave your site if they don’t know what to do next.
Their time is precious, and their attention span is short. They shouldn’t have to figure out themselves what to do next. You control their scrolling by telling them what to do.
Maybe it’s sign up for your email list.
Maybe it’s call now.
Maybe it’s fill out a contact form.
Maybe it’s download a free report.
It doesn’t matter. As long as you give them direction. Make it clear, make it easy, and make it obvious.
Uber (below) makes it easy for site visitors. Its CTA is large and obvious. START RIDING AND SIGN UP. The company makes it clear what it wants you to do next after visiting the site.
Getting attention in an inundated digital world isn’t easy. And if the messaging on your website isn’t clear and effective, you don’t have a chance. Stop losing business by making these simple changes to your site.
Remember, you only have 0.05 seconds to make an impression. Make it count.
Does your business website pass the 0.05-second test? Want to make your content more impactful? Reach out to us for a free consultation on how you can improve your website content.