What is the ONE goal every single website on the internet needs to achieve, regardless of the business type and size?
A few logical answers to this question might center around phone calls, submitted forms, and sales. Logical answers, yes, but are they correct?
Well, yes and no. Your website should accomplish those things, but you will not get a single phone call, a single submitted form, or a single sale unless your website helps you do one thing: Build relationships.
As business people, we hear that a lot these days, don’t we? Build relationships, build relationships, build relationships. Why? Why do we have to court and date our potential customers?
In this day and age, there is an onslaught of information about you, your business – and the access to all that information is instantaneous. Through social media, emails, Google, and your website, your future customer can find out everything they need to know about you in a matter of seconds. AND, they are doing the same exact thing with several of your competitors.
In addition, we are in the middle of a global pandemic and we are forced to keep our distance from each other. We had already minimized our face-to-face interactions through digital communication before the pandemic, and now we rely on those methods more than ever. But humans don’t work that way. Humans crave connection and relationships.
During these times especially, your website is your digital handshake. As web developers and copywriters we are having to be more aware of how we structure and deliver information.
Can you build relationships through the written word? Two words for you: Baby. Boom. Our grandparents wrote letters to one another during World War II and we have an entire population to show for it. So yes, messaging can build relationships.
Here are a few ways to build relationships with your website visitors:
Have the mindset of a volunteer
For decades, we have come at website messaging from a “Here is a long dissertation of what we do and how we do it” perspective. The problem with that in this day and age is that it puts YOU first. Relationships aren’t built that way. It’s very difficult to do, but you have to slip into the shoes of your customer and craft your messaging based on what they need from you, not what you need to tell them.
People feel better about entering into business relationships that others have had a positive experience with. You can write about your accolades, accomplishments, certificates, and achievements all day long. That certainly helps to legitimize you and your business, but it lacks the human element. Reviews and testimonials help build relationships by way of building trust. You can’t have a relationship without trust – let your happy customers build trust for you by way of reviews and testimonials.
In the early days of marketing (think Mad Men) messaging was stiff, formal, and very professional. There are definitely a few industries where that is still necessary. No one wants to visit a heart surgeon’s website and read a bunch of bad jokes. That said, the rest of us can look for opportunities to connect with people through emotional messaging.
While the very notion of emotional messaging makes many people visibly blanch, it’s not as hard as it sounds. Here’s all you need to do: Be. Human. Hey, look at that, you already are a human. Great head start!
Be vulnerable. Be transparent. Be genuine. Be helpful. Be empathetic. Be relatable. Be funny. Be. Human.
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. Most homepages list services. Let’s say I’m writing about services for a plumber.
Water Heater Repair
We service all makes and models of hot water heaters. We are available 24 hours a day, so we’re here day and night to get your hot water heater back up and running.
Water Heater Repair
Cold showers are over-rated. Is there anything worse than having a hot water heater go out – except maybe having a hot water heater go out when you have a house full of company? Our certified technicians’ super-power is getting your hot water heater up and running in record time, regardless of make and model. Best of all, they are on call 24 hours a day. Call us now and you’ll be relaxing in a hot shower before you know it.
In example one, the messaging conveys that the plumber is capable of working on all hot water heaters, and has emergency hours. Guess what? So do 90% of all plumbers.
In example two, the plumber is relating to the pain and suffering of the potential customer, by pointing out how uncomfortable it is to be without hot water. In one sentence, the words “certified” and “super-power” convey trust. The final sentence conjures up imagery of a hot relaxing shower, thanks to the trusty plumber and his crew.
In the first example, the plumber is being helpful.
In the second example, the plumber is being empathetic, genuine, relatable, trustworthy, and helpful.
Another relatively simple way to build a relationship through your website is to talk about the community organizations you belong to and/or the volunteer efforts you are involved with. Here again, resist coming at this from a “look how awesome and giving we are” perspective and come at it more from a “I belong to the same community you do, and I care about the people in this community.” A sense of belonging to the same community is a great foundation for building a relationship.
Create a sense of shared belonging by talking about the professional organizations you belong to. This tells your would-be customer that you’re a professional – you take your business seriously enough to pay membership dues and network with others. This, in turn, builds trust. And if your future customer belongs to the same organizations, you have immediate common ground.
People love to read behind-the-curtain trials, tribulations, setbacks, and successes. Stories that are vulnerable, transparent, and self-deprecating help to build relationships. Humor is also a useful tool in relatable story-telling. Take a look at your current About Us page. Does it read like a compelling story, or does it read more like a tax return? If you want to build relationships through your website, have the courage to tell your story the way it is, not the way you think people want to hear it.
So how, as web developers, do we know all this relationship-y stuff? Because we have a full-time professional copywriter on staff.
Messaging was important before a global pandemic, now it is more crucial than ever. Your website, overnight, became the primary way to communicate with your customers. Is your copy updated for the changes your business has likely incurred, and most importantly, does your copy build relationships?
If you are in the market for a new website, or you need to overhaul an existing one, look for a developer who has a copywriter on staff. If you go the DIY route, consider hiring a skilled freelance copywriter who understands that the primary goal of your website is to build relationships through your messaging.