Episode 272 - Featuring Lee Matthew Jackson
June 24, 2020
The website is often seen as a checkbox on a long list of mundane and irrelevant marketing activities. It tends to become an online “calling card” with little to no thought on what it should actually do for the website owner. As agency owners we have an awesome opportunity to help build websites that help people achieve their objectives and we can do that from the wealth of experience we’ve had getting it right and learning from when we got it wrong.
There are three key takeaways from this episode:
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Welcome to the Agency Trailblazer podcast. This is your host, Lee Matthew Jackson. Yes, that’s how I shall be known now and forever more. Today, we’re talking about outcome driven websites.
I so often see and I’ve been a part of this problem that a website becomes an item on the checklist, something that I need to do but there’s lots of other important elements. Therefore, I demote the quality of my website to being a simple online calling card, i.e. It’s a business card that is there to tell people how great I am and how to get in touch. However, when I do that, I find the outcome of that website is to essentially generate me diddly squat. I get hardly any leads by putting out a website that is simply an online calling card.
We will have clients who will approaches and ask us for a website. They’ll ask for five pages. It will be a very generic request and yet we could be asking more. I wonder, do you fall into the trap of responding to that generic request with a generic website? Because I know I do, and I’m absolutely guilty of this. You see, I think we should be focusing more on the outcome rather than on what the site is going to A, look like and B, contain as a calling card.
Perhaps there are questions that we could be asking right from the very get go to ensure that our client is actually going to get results from this site. If you imagine I actually want people to visit my website. Yes. To be impressed by the services that I offer, but actually to be drawn to connect with me. Perhaps I want them to submit a potential project I lead. Perhaps I want them to sign up to something free and have them enter a funnel. There must be all sorts of outcomes that I would like as a business owner for when potential clients visit my site.
Now, I’ve looked at agency websites around the world and there are some phenomenal design examples, and yet they look great but don’t seem to facilitate any particular outcome. Now, if that website is simply there to showcase how freaking awesome they are, then they have totally check that box. And I can’t judge because many businesses around the world actually generate their business direct one to one through relationships, through networking, etc, so their website just simply needs to be that online credibility and does not necessarily need to have massive thought processes into what outcomes it is going to drive. So I do get that.
But I also imagine that in most cases, most of us really do want somebody to do something when they arrive on our website. It’s the same for our clients. So perhaps we can lead with this conversation when a client approaches us for a website. Perhaps we can ask them straight off the bat. “What is it that you want to achieve with this site?”
Is this your online calling card or do you want to sell products, sell services, receive support requests, generate leads, enter people into relevant funnels and so on? These are all important outcomes that should be discussed right from the very beginning. Those outcomes are going to drive what you build for your client. They are going to dictate the content, the user journeys, the look and the feel. It’s one of the most important parts of the build.
The website is not just a check on a box. The website is one of the most important public facing areas of any business. Yes, there is social media. Yes, we can show up at physical events. Yes, we can hand over business cards. Yes, we can show up online through YouTube and podcasts and and talk and be ourselves and represent our businesses. But actually, what is really going to happen right at the end of the day is somebody is going to come and check you out on your website.
It’s the same for the client wherever they show up, however they show up, even if it’s a print billboard on the side of the road, somebody is going to go ahead and check that website. I’m going to hold my hands up right now. AngledCrown.com is not an outcome driven website. That was simply a site I built in a rush because I recognized that design was dated and it needed to look more attractive and more appealing.
Yes, I do generate an awful lot of inquiries by showing up on this podcast. And the website does help in establishing credibility. But what it doesn’t do is attract all of those people who don’t know who I am. For those. They’ll come and look at the website and they’ll maybe have a look around, but they don’t hit that “start a project”, button they don’t jump on to the mailing list or send me a message. They they just simply carry on.
So our conversion rate is absolutely abysmal. If I was to treat myself like a client, then I would have gone through a discovery process. I would have mapped out some user journeys. I would have listed the ideal outcomes that I would get from the different type of users that would be visiting the site. I would then be designing for those outcomes. I would be testing using something like SplitHero for A/B testing to see what works the best.
Now, the problem is for pretty much I think all agency owners is we’re just too busy. We’re servicing our clients and looking after them. And I want to be accountable to the community and say I’ve been neglecting the important shop front of my own business whilst ensuring that my clients shopfronts are freaking awesome. So I think the first challenge from this episode to all of us as a community is, are we looking after our own storefronts? Are we really paying attention to those all important details?
The second lesson, I think we can learn from this kind of “rant”. I guess I feel quite “ranty” in a in a good and positive way, is that we have the ability to really change the lives of the businesses that work with us. When they approach us for a website, they are not approaching us for a brochure site. They’re not approaching us for something that looks pretty. Maybe they think they are. But we have this opportunity and probably even say responsibility to say, hey, this is going to be your shopfront.
This is where your prospective clients are going to land to check you out and it is so important that we establish what you want those people to do. What outcomes do you want to get from this website? Because what we build will be focused on those outcomes, on those goals that you, the client, have.
I imagine that by doing that, by approaching your web builds from that perspective, you’re going to get a massive buy in from the client and you and your team are going to be motivated to want to help and to build something that is truly awesome.
What this is doing is changing the conversation and ensuring that you are focusing on providing real, true value. Yes, there are websites that are simply there to be a calling card for credibility to look pretty and for people to pick up the telephone. I get that that is an outcome and that is totally fine. And there will be sites that you’ll need to build that will literally be doing that. But I imagine in most cases that’s not the case.
Most people will want particular things to happen. And we as web designers, as developers, as agency owners, we have the ability to provide that. If you’re thinking to yourself, but I don’t know how to to create these outcomes, then remember, you are part of an amazing community of other designers. You can connect with them over on agencytrailblazer.com/group. That’s our Facebook group. Three and a half thousand people and they are all freaking awesome.
There is an amazing community that we can go and learn from. There are amazing courses out there to help us upscale and understand how to design better, how to improve user experience, how to improve typography and so on. I’ll put some examples of Piccia’s courses in the show, notes of this episode.
Beyond the information and the community, look to yourself. We are so quick to put ourselves down. I do this every single day and yet I tell my daughter off for doing the same.
But remember that you are unique. You are actually a very experienced business owner. You’ve built multiple websites. You’ve seen what doesn’t work. You’ve even seen what does work. And you can draw from those lessons over the last few years when a client wants a particular outcome, you can draw from your experiences and look at past sites where that happened, why you were able to facilitate that or even where it didn’t work so you know what to avoid.
You do have more knowledge in you than you believe. There’s a great saying at our church, there is more in you than you think. There absolutely is more in you than you think.
You have all of these experiences that, yes, won’t come to mind right now on the spot. But during a project, you will be surprised at what comes out of your mouth. You’ll be surprised at what ideas you come up with. So please, please, please be encouraged.
From this episode, I’d love you to draw the following lessons. That there is a common perception that websites are just a check box on a list and people don’t realize this is their shopfront, this is where many people will be going for social proof, for more information.
When people approach the website as a calling card, it becomes very self focused and doesn’t focus on the person the website is meant for. Therefore, it will become about what they do and their awards and pictures and examples, all of which are awesome, but none of which necessarily will resonate with their target audience who may have a particular aspiration they want to achieve, or a particular problem that they want to solve.
And finally, when you lead as an agency focusing on those outcomes, you are going to create more value. You are going to provide a website and a service which is focused on helping your client with their own outcomes, with their own objectives. And that is gold.
Folks, I hope this has inspired you. I hope this has given you a framework for approaching future webdesign projects and also encouraged you to remember that there is so much more in you that you have so much more experience to draw from, and also that you are part of a huge and vibrant community of peers who love to help each other out, so we are totally in the right industry.
Before we go, I would love to tell you about a brand new podcast we launched just last week. It’s called the Digital Renaissance Podcast. And you can find it over on DigitalRenaissance.studio. Also, check out the show notes. And this is a podcast which is focused at your potential clients. This is a podcast for small businesses to help them understand the world of the web and online marketing and how they should be approaching web designers, designers and service providers like yourselves so that they can get a good relationship going and that they can get the outcomes that they are looking for.
The reason for this new podcast was the birth of what I believe is a “digital renaissance” that is coming up over the next few weeks, months and years because businesses were forced to close for a long time during Covid and the Internet became the single most important way that we all communicated and that we all did business. And a lot of people were left behind and they recognized that they need to change.
So this podcast feels really apt. If you have any clients that you would like to share this with or just people in your local business network that you think would benefit from accessing this content, then can I encourage you to go ahead and share the podcast with them? There is an episode going live at two 30 every Thursday that allows me to get the episodes live for this podcast every Wednesday. And then Digital Renaissance will follow the following day.
What you’ll also see is quite a parallel of some of the episodes as we unpack certain subjects, both from the client perspective and also from the agency perspective.
In the upcoming few weeks, I will be talking about outcome driven websites, but directly to the client to help them understand this. We hope to act as a bridge and an educator to be able to bring better quality clients to our Agency, Trailblazer Community, so your support is so, so, so appreciated.
Finally, as we come in to land, I’d love to thank CloudWays for sponsoring a yet another episode. They really believe in the content that we provide. They really believe in supporting the community and they offer a fantastic platform for managing our cloud assets online. So please go ahead and check them out. There is a link in the show notes for you to access the website, which will also be updated as and when there are special offers available.
So be sure to check that out over on AgencyTrailblazer.com. You can jump direct to AgencyTrailblazer.com/cloudways. Finally, remember we have that Facebook group AgencyTrailblazer.com/group. If we don’t see you in the group, we will see you in the next episode.