There's a science to marketing. Literally. According to this ScienceDaily article, it takes users less than two-tenths of a second to form a first impression of your website. These first impressions directly influence a favorable or unfavorable view of you, your business, and your brand. The longer you can keep people on your page, the more favorable the impressions will be. If your business revolves around you (i.e. consultants, coaches, service providers, etc.) versus a product and you're trying to boost credibility, you may want to see if your website is working for or against you. Here are five ways your website may be hurting your personal brand and your bottom line:
1. Using stock photography as your main site image: You know that blonde guy you see all over the web? Yup, this guy. Don't be caught with his stock photo as your homepage image. People are hiring you for you so boost those first impressions on your website by highlighting your photo on the main page (a professional one - not the photo you were tagged in on Facebook last week). Be creative with it; the photo could be you working with clients or performing your work. Get the most bang for your buck by asking your photographer to snap a few photos for potential website images while you're updating your headshots. Which brings me to number two ....
2. Outdated or cliché headshots: First of all, if you are a service provider, consultant or coach, it should be a given that you include your head shot with your bio on your website. I've stumbled across far too many consultant websites who have neglected to post a photo. People want to know who you are, who they are hiring, and who they are investing their money with. A photo builds trust, likeability, and credibility. With that being said, make sure your photo truly reflects you (there is such a thing as too photoshopped), is current, and reflects your personality and professional demeanor.
3. A clunky navigation menu: Test subjects in this study spent about 6.5 seconds focused on the navigation menu before moving on. Ensure your site is easy to maneuver, intuitive, and user-friendly. Do people know exactly how to get to your service list? Your about page? Your contact information? Less is more. Make sure there's a flow and direction for how people navigate. The more simple your website is to maneuver, the more enjoyable it is to be on, and the easier it is to sell. We like doing business with people who make it easy.
4. A lack of engagement: We enjoy doing business with people who engage us. Why not let your website do some of the work. Incorporate video, discussion, quizzes, free downloads, e-books, or interactive tools on your site. You can build trust and credibility by offering ways for people to get involved. And the easier those engagement tools are to share with others, the more effective you'll be in building your audience.
5. Templated Websites: If you expect others to invest in you, you've got to invest in yourself first. This includes a decent website. Yes, a templated website from GoDaddy and Vistaprint is quick, cheap, and easy but it really discredits your overall business and brand. You get what you pay for. You should be showcasing you and your skills, not the GoDaddy logo. You may have superior products and services but if the initial impression of your website from a bad or generic design is negative, people will click on through to your competitors.
People make buying decisions based on their gut all the time. Don't think for a second (or 2/10 of a second in this case) that it doesn't count when it comes to the web and your personal brand.
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