When building a home or commercial building, you probably don’t begin until you have a good understanding of the purpose it will serve for your client. It helps you make decisions along the way so the building is custom-fit to their needs.
Building a website is no different.
You always want to start by listing your objectives. For a general contractor, objectives may include:
• Showing up in online searches so potential buyers can see that you’re an option.
• Serving as an “online business card” so referrals can verify your workmanship, values, building style and what it’s like to work with you.
• Acting as a way for leads who are interested in building immediately to contact you.
• Qualifying your leads by explaining the process, requirements and financing options.
• Providing information to buyers who are months or years out so you’re their trusted builder once they’re ready.
• Helping guide current buyers through the process with planning documents, contracts or a custom portal.
Some builders are aiming to reach all of these objectives. But depending on your business model, yours could vary. For example, maybe you have a waiting list a mile long without plans to expand your capabilities. In that case, nurturing future leads may not be as important. If most of your business comes from a steady stream of referrals, SEO may not be your top priority.
Once your website developer knows how your website can serve both you and your clients best, they can get to work implementing these six key features so your website can reach the goals you’ve set.
1. SEO. By using predetermined keywords, writing about certain topics, using behind-the-scenes code and making your website fast, you’re sending signals to search engines to help them send your target market to your site. Ultimately, you want your customer to be satisfied when they visit.
2. Verification. You want every website visitor to leave thinking that you are definitely who they want to work with. Great photos are an important part of this. Hiring a photographer after your favorite jobs are complete ensures you have a steady stream of images to show prospective customers. Asking for reviews, and posting them on your site, offers social proof for others who may be on the fence about choosing you. Showing your process gives people peace of mind as well.
3. Contact. Make it as easy as possible to contact you for those who are ready. Make your number click-to-call, offer a texting option, support chat (if you have office help) and give them a simple contact form to fill out. This gives them flexibility if they’re at work or on the go.
4. Qualify. Some of your web pages can be dedicated to offering information on what it’s like to work with you. Some will find these pages themselves, but it’s a great idea to have an email template with links to these pages to send out before your first meeting. You’ll both start on the same page without you having to explain your process over and over.
5. Nurturing. Articles on your website serve many purposes including SEO and trust building. An article titled, “How to Choose the Best Architect in Springfield, MO,” will bring in local visitors who are in the research and planning phase of their buying journey. Ask for their email so you can send them future tips to help them plan their build. Then send out a few emails linking to topics that move them through the process. You’ll be their partner before they have even researched builders.
6. Integration. Your website can be used as a tool for working with your buyers. Think about ways you can streamline your process and make it more automatic. It’ll be less work for you and look more put together to the buyer. Build a portal for buyers who can log in to access information and complete tasks. Make your contracts signable online, so they don’t have to make an extra trip. If you use a project management tool, give them access so they don’t need updates from you. Anything you can automate gives you extra time to communicate with them on the subjects that really matter.
The good thing about a website is that you can always add content and features. Starting with clear goals gives a good foundation to build on as your business grows.
Jahana Uchtman is a website designer and digital marketer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
417 Cocktails LLC moved; 7 Brew Coffee added its first shop in Lebanon; and Branson outlet store for Baltimore, Maryland-based sports apparel retailer Under Armour relocated.