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Module 2: How to Plan a Website That Sells
Section 1: You and Your Website
Post 3: Pages on Purpose Produce Profits
We started out this Module discussing the purpose of your website. Now we want to turn our attention to the individual pages on your site. Here’s the thing:
You should also have a purpose for every page.
Let’s look at the pages of your website, one at a time. Some of them may not be appropriate for your business, but certainly most of them will.
Every page (almost)
First, let’s talk about what needs to be on every page of your website. Actually, there are a few exceptions which we’ll highlight as we discuss the individual pages below.
Other than that, every page should have your business name and logo, navigation (tabs for the pages of your site), and the footer. Beyond that, it depends on your business.
If you want people to call you, your phone number should be clearly visible. If you want people to visit you, your address (and even a map) should be prominently displayed.
If you blog or otherwise have a lot of content, you have multiple points-of-entry. People may find you in search and not hit your Home Page. So you may want your primary call-to-action on every page as well.
Now we’re ready to talk about the individual pages. Before we start, though, we’d just like to share one caveat:
Mentally think “in general” before all the suggestions below. You may break the rules if you find something that works better. Remember – if it works for you, it works!
Your Home Page is the most important page on your website. The reason is simple – most people will likely land here. They’ll come from search. When someone links to you, they’ll likely direct people here.
You get the idea. It’s the page which will most likely get the most traffic. With that background, you may find what we’re about to say kind of ironic. For most businesses…
You want to get people off your Home Page as quickly as possible!
People hitting your Home Page are likely either loyal customers who know their way around or first-time visitors.
You don’t have to worry so much about customers. They’ll navigate their way to where they want to go.
It’s the first-time visitors who spell opportunity. They’re in the early stages of the buyer’s journey.
They’re aware of you now, but that’s about it. Your job is to create interest.
The easiest way to do that is with a single message and a single call-to-action.
For example, you may “sell” signing up for a downloadable report. Instead of relying on them to come back to your website, you send email messages to their Inbox. It gives you more control.
For most businesses, an effective Home Page includes most or all of the following:
- Headline: grabs attention
- Sub-headline: clarifies
- Introduction: 2 to 3 sentence paragraph
- Bullet points: highlights benefits
- Visual: supports the message
- Call-to-action: so they take the next step
Tiplady Fine Woodworking is a great example of a service business which does a lot of things right on their Home Page. The owner is Michael Tiplady.
- He identifies his company, what he does and who he serves
- He quickly gets to the point
- The copy highlights his key differentiator – quality
- He offers a guarantee
- The photo is him (so you know who you’re dealing with)!
- He clearly displays his phone number (twice!)
Note that he goes instantly for a phone call. We wonder if he could get better results by building an email list.
He could share project stories, hints for hiring a contractor (which of course would all be favorable to him), etc. But judging by his website, we bet he has all kinds of people who recommend him.
About Pages get more hits than you might ever imagine. For example – we have nearly 13,000 pages on BIGG Success as we write this.
Our About Page ranks #19 of all of them for page views this year. This illustrates an important point:
People want to know the people behind the business.
Yet most About Pages are horrible. They miss the opportunity to truly connect with the visitor.
Some sound like corporate dribble. They appear to be written more for competitors than customers. This tendency often gets carried site wide.
They often don’t talk about people at all. It’s as if the business runs itself!
If they talk about the person behind the business, they’re often written in the third person. So the reader feels like they’re reading about somebody instead of communicating with somebody.
Others talk about “I” but never say who the “I” is. Worse yet, many don’t even include a photo so you never see the person.
Your About Page is the soul of your website. Its purpose is to deepen the relationship between you and the reader. Your About Page may contain any or all of the following:
- your what (vision)
- your why (mission)
- your hero’s journey (history)
Yellow Leaf Hammocks provides a great example of an About Page. Here’s a snippet:
- Their graphics are great
- They use real images, not stock photos
- They connect you with a cause instantly
- They tell you about the company and the people behind the company
Note that they talk about the owners in the third person. But it seems natural flowing out of their conversation about the company.
The purpose of a Contact Page is pretty simple – to make it easy to contact you. It doesn’t mean it’s the only place you put this information.
But people are used to seeing “Contact” in the navigational tabs. When they’re ready to reach out, you don’t want to slow them down.
Your Contact Page should include most or all of the following:
- your email address
- your phone number
- your mailing address
- your physical address
- a contact form
Max Saunders covers the bases this way:
He provides every form of contact we suggested. The only thing we don’t like is that he’s looking away from the content in the photo. We’ll talk more about this in the next section.
We’ve now talked about the three staples, which are part of every site. Now, let’s look at pages you may elect to include. Note that this list is not exhaustive. You may need a page not listed here.
Products Page (i.e. your online store)
You may want a page to showcase your products. Its purpose is clear – sell more of them. Of course, you may just do this on your Home Page.
A Products Page should be very visual. Its feature should be images of the goods you sell.
But many people make a common mistake on this page. They cram too many products into too small of a space.
We have looked at dozens of studies about image size. As size increased, sales rose by at least 9% and as much as 63%.
We recommend that you:
- place no more than three products across the page
- use images as large as possible
- concisely describe the most significant features and benefits
- show the price
- link to a dedicated page or use a pop-up (if more information is needed)
Here’s an example from handmade jewelry designer Kim Knoll with RFRM:
Her products are obviously the star of this page. The images are clearly prominent. We also like her use of white space.
When you click on the product image or price, you go to a dedicated-product page. This keeps the Products Page cleaner.
With some products, multiple views may be desirable. You can either show those on a dedicated page or include thumbnails below the main image.
One final note, we said earlier that every page of your website should have certain staple elements. We also noted there were a few exceptions.
Your Products Page is one of them. If this is where you make sales, you may want to remove the navigational links. You’ve got people where you want them. Don’t let them get away!
You may sell services instead of products. In that case, you may want a Services Page. Its purpose is simple: sell your services.
Having looked at thousands of websites, we have to say the Services Page almost never hits the mark. People generally make one of two mistakes:
- They treat this page like it’s a yellow page ad
Many people just list their services. But you’re not limited by space on your website. So you can actually sell them. However, read the next point before writing your copy.
- They yammer on and on
A wall of text won’t sell anyone on anything. You need to get to the point. And the point is: How will this service benefit your potential customer?
We recommend that you:
- list your services vertically if you have offer more than three of them
- include a relevant visual for each service (but not a cheesy one)
- concisely describe the features and benefits in no more than 3 – 4 lines
- link to a dedicated page or use a pop-up to provide more information
Here’s a snippet of a nice Services page for a digital agency, 352 Media:
Before we talk about their page, we want to highlight one thing – the tab they use for this page doesn’t say “Services.” They refer to it as “Solutions.” We’re seeing this more and more.
You’re seeing their first two services in the photo above. (They offer a total of six.) Notice that they talk about benefits in their descriptions, which they keep to three lines. Then they link to a dedicated page.
Speaking of dedicated pages, here’s an example from H. BLOOM. It’s the page for their subscription flower delivery service.
They target affluent homeowners with this service. On the page above this, they offer a sign up form to schedule a complimentary design consultation.
Note how simply and clearly they describe their process. It’s all sounds so easy. All you have to do is fill out the form!
Can you explain your process so succinctly? If so, it’s a great way to bring down the sales resistance.
Before we move on, we want to give you one more thing to think about. It’s a trend we’re seeing on the rise.
“Services” can be tough to sell. Services are intangible.
Products are tangible. Products are easier to sell. So it raises the question:
Can you productize your service?
If so, you may be able to realize the dream of every business owner and professional: make more money while working less.
But we anticipate that you may have a question: What does “productize” mean? We’re so glad you asked!
According to Investopedia, the definition of productize is:
To take a new service, product or product feature – that a company has provided to a single customer or a few customers on a custom basis – and turn it into a standard, fully tested, packaged, supported and marketed product. For example, a person can productize their expertise by putting it into a tangible object by creating a product based on that knowledge.
The Brand That Sells program is an example of this. We’ve turned what was exclusively a coaching service into the product you’re using right now.
When you sell services, your upside is often limited to the amount of labor you can provide or recruit. You’re like a machine shop.
When you productize your services, you’re a branded manufacturer. You can scale your business much easier.
How can you put this principle to work in your brand?
Before we get to the Pricing Page, let’s answer an important question: Should you post your prices on your website?
We believe it really boils down to two things which may be related: complexity and cost. More complexity and/or greater cost generally mean you shouldn’t post your prices.
You probably want to use your website to “sell” free information or free trials. Then you can focus on getting them to pay.
Now let’s talk about the Pricing Pages. Its purpose is to take away the price objection. Depending on the nature of what you sell, it may not mean they’ll buy.
But they’re more likely to take the next step. As we discussed in the last post, the next step may be a sample (e.g. a free trial).
Interestingly enough, you often see this Page referred to as the “Plans and Pricing” Page these days. We want you to emphasize the “s” in “Plans”.
Do you sell one thing one way? If so, think about how you can add options.
For years, product sellers have used good-better-best pricing. Now service providers are catching on. Here’s why this is so important:
Itamar Simonson is one of the world’s leading researchers on decision-making. His studies show that people prefer what he calls “compromise choices.”
A compromise choice is the option which falls between what they feel they need (which sets their minimum) and what they can afford to spend (which establishes their maximum).
Source: Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive
[George] I was first introduced to this concept through one of the franchises I owned. I couldn’t believe the results. We quickly started using it in my other businesses with similar outcomes.
If you only offer your potential customers one product or service, they have a choice: No or Yes. Most will probably say “No”.
If you offer two options (A = good, B = better), they can say: No, A, or B. Most will choose A, the least expensive option. So you will likely get more customers. But you can do even better.
If you offer three options (A = good, B = better, C = best), most people will choose the middle option. It’s the compromise choice.
Studies have shown (and we’ve witnessed it ourselves) that the numbers break down something like this:
10% – 15% of people will pick A. They’re price shoppers.
75% – 85 will pick B.
5% – 10% will pick C. They only buy the best.
From this you can see that Option B should be your most profitable offering. Keep the price relatively close to Option A, but include one or more high-perceived value, high margin add-ons.
You can have a fairly significant price spread for Option C, since these customers will buy the best no matter what. So pile on the benefits!
If you offer a service, consider giving customers a choice of service levels. See what it does for your business.
Here’s the Plans and Pricing Page from Pipedrive. They sell customer relationship management software.
Note that they have one service, but offer three levels of pricing. They put them in a table so it’s really easy to understand the differences.
They also highlight the one they want you to buy. This is a fairly recent trend, but it makes sense and cents!
But also note what they’re really pushing here: sign up for a free trial. Why go to all this trouble to sell a free offer?
Simple – it helps people feel like they can take the next step. One step at a time leads to BIGG success!
In the Information Age, people want information! No surprise there – but here’s something a lot of businesses miss:
The buyer’s journey may involve information beyond your business.
Here’s a personal example: A friend told us about a lovely little place with cabins right on Lake Michigan. It sounded like a great getaway.
So like most people who hear about a business these days, we went to their website. We learned we learned what we needed to know. It looked nice. The prices seemed reasonable.
However, we didn’t know anything about the area. This was a small “resort” in a small town. We wondered: What else is there to do in the area?
We looked at their site for links. Nothing.
Guess what we did then? Do you think looked for information about the community? Well, we didn’t. Guess what we did do?
We looked at their competition.
We found a place we liked better. The place “felt” nicer looking at their website.
Not only that, they provided links to attractions and other fun things-to-do in the area. They linked us to the Calendar of Events page of their local tourism agency.
Both resorts had all the information we needed about their place. But that’s not the only decision you make when deciding on a weekend away.
You also want to know about the surrounding area. The second place won us over because they helped us find this information.
Sure, we could have found it on our own. But they know the area; we don’t. They acted as our guide, our planner, our concierge – call it what you will, they made the experience easier.
So as you think about your ideal customers and their buyer’s journey, ask this question:
What’s the “surrounding area” of your business?
Most businesses just provide information about their product or service. You’ll win more customers by providing information about everything they need to know to make the buying decision.
It’s the purpose of a Resources page. Here’s a snapshot of one. (We’ve left out the header. The list also continues below what this photo shows.)
This comes from Darren Rowse (aka ProBlogger). He’s providing information surrounding the subject of blogging:
Note that you don’t have to write a whole post. You just provide a link. Of course, you can add some a short insight along with the link. Yet you’ll win favor with your potential customers because you’re helping them get the information they crave.
There’s another way you may use a Resource page. That’s why we used the plural in the header of this section (like we did with landing pages).
You may create a Resource page (or pages) for your own content. This works especially well if you have a blog. Pull in all the posts about a particular topic on one page.
That’s what Stephanie Brandt Cornais has done here on her Mama and Baby Love site:
This page features links to other Resource pages around the topic of “Real Food”, using her word. She has three other pages like this with different themes.
It’s a great way to help your site visitors quickly find information which they may find helpful. Of course, you’ll want to make sure it’s all leading them down the path to a purchase.
We’ll start with a definition. A landing page is simply a dedicated page designed as a follow-up on a previous activity.
Perhaps it’s best explained with an example. Let’s say you run an ad on radio station WABC. You don’t have to say everything in the ad. You can just build curiosity and then send them to your website for more information.
Most businesses don’t capitalize on this tactic. Most of the ones who do make a critical mistake – they send people to their Home page.
Here’s the problem: Visitors quickly get frustrated and click away. On the Home page, they can’t find the information they want.
Fortunately, there’s a simple, inexpensive answer:
Create a landing page specific for what you are promoting.
Don’t send them to: yourbusiness.com
Do send them to: yourbusiness.com/wabc
We’re using “special” as the name of the landing page. You can use any name you want. It just needs to be short, simple and easy to remember.
Note in this example, we’re using the radio station call letters. It meets all three criteria we just listed.
Now, visitors will come to your landing page instead of your Home page. So you can:
- speak directly with the kinds of people you expect to respond to your ad
- talk about the specific topic of your radio ad
- naturally continue the conversation you started with your ad
- likely turn more website visitors into customers
- make more money, more dependably!
NOTE: We’ve used radio as an example here. But this tactic works the same with all media, online and offline.
Your website is an excellent tool to compliment your other marketing efforts. When you do it wisely, all your advertising will be more productive. We’ll talk more about integration in Module 3.
On your landing page, you’ll want an attention-grabbing headline. As with all headlines, it sells reading further.
You’ll also want to demonstrate quickly that they’re in the right place. Acknowledge the place they came from. Note: You won’t do this in the headline. However, you’ll want to mention it early in your copy.
If appropriate – and it would be in the example here – you may want to include a logo or other graphic related to where they came from. For example, you could use WABC’s logo.
Perhaps more importantly is what you don’t include. With certain landing pages, you’ll want less navigation – if you have any navigation at all.
Here’s a snippet showing how we use this concept in practice:
Whenever we give a presentation, we create a landing page for the sponsoring organization. Then we can talk more personally with visitors who show up.
We can also track results. That’s another advantage of using landing pages – you’ll know what promotional activities are working and which aren’t.
Note that we’re not trying to make a sale. We’re “selling” a FREE Special Report (it’s pictured below this copy along with a sign-up form). It’s the next step forward in our process.
In general – the lower the price of your product or service, the sooner you can sell. Just remember – you want to make offers aligned with the level of trust you’ve built.
Also note that the only navigation is the tabs for our site. (There may be times when you even want to remove these.) In this case, we’ve removed our side bar. We want people focused on the copy on this page and nothing else.
We want to share two more thoughts before we move on to the next type of page:
- Technically, every page is a landing page
A person may arrive at your Home page as a result of a referral, your business card, a Google search or more. They also may arrive at another page as a result of a search or a link on your site or someone else’s.
- Note we said landing pages, not landing page
It’s plural. You’ll likely have more than one landing pages. In fact, you’ll likely be adding landing pages frequently if you’re aggressively marketing your business.
We’ve hit the most common pages but you may require something special. We’ll share a few examples, but this list is by no means exhaustive.
Have you been quoted in the newspaper, in a magazine or a blog? Have you been interviewed on the radio or TV? on the news? Would you like to be?
If so, you may want to consider a Press Page (sometimes called a Media Page). It accomplishes two things:
It leverages your media exposure and helps you get more. Your credibility is enhanced in the minds of both visitors and media contacts.
So remember – you have two audiences for this page. Keep that in mind as you think about what you want on it.
You may just include links to the original content. But consider upping the ante. Here are some examples:
– Pull out one of your quotes from an article and turn it into a photo
– Embed a video of your appearance on a TV show
– Include a slideshow with a radio interview
– Aggregate all your press releases
Do you have newsworthy activities? Before you say “No”, we’ll rebut:
Almost every business has newsworthy activities. However, most businesses – especially small businesses – don’t realize it.
Now, you may not have news of interest to the major networks. (Although, don’t dismiss that either – a subject we’ll cover in Module 3.) But you probably have news that’s interesting to people who are interested in you.
Are you a speaker already? If not, do you see yourself on a stage, sharing your wisdom with an audience hanging on to your every word?
If so, you may want to consider a Speaker’s Page. Your main audience on this page is people in charge of organizations who serve your ideal customers.
Do you blog? Do you plan to? Here’s something to consider – research shows that on average:
A business with a blog gets 55% more website traffic.
So – if you and your competitor match up in every area, but you have a blog and they don’t – you can expect 155 leads for every 100 they get.
Does that make you a little more interested in blogging? We thought so. Your blog is a simple way to showcase your expertise, add value in your relationships, and help prospects get the information they need.
We’re not saying it’s right for you. We’re just saying you should consider it. We’ll talk about this more in Module 3.
You may have ideas for pages which we haven’t covered here. Study your industry online. See what your competitors are doing well and not doing well.
Then determine which pages you need. And remember – the wonderful thing about the kind of website you’re getting as part of this program is that it can always be changed with little cost and effort.
Congratulations! You’ve completed the reading for Part 1 of Module 2. Here’s what to do to complete it:
- Go to the You and Your Website Guidebook. Complete Part 3 (if you’ve been doing each part as you go) or Parts 1 – 3 (if you read straight through).
- Then you’ll be ready to move on to Section 2 of this second module – Your Customers and Your Website.
Of course – if you have any questions, email us at
firstname.lastname@example.org with “BTS QUESTION” in the subject line.