A new website is rarely the answer

by | 18/09/19

Whilst there are any number of reasons a business might decide to change its website, chief amongst them appears to be the entrenched thinking that a new refreshed site will immediately drive an increase in enquiries and ultimately sales.

Putting aside the need for a new website following an acquisition or merger, re-brand or change in business activities, there continues to be hope that a new site alone will boost sales.

Following launch of the new website, many businesses will experience a spike in visitor numbers, which can lead to an increase in sales depending on what it sells and how short the sales cycle is, but the positive impact of the new website will be short-lived.

But the effect will only be short-lived, if the new website is a change in isolation; if little else in the marketing mix is revised or updated, the business will return to old website levels reasonably quickly; a shame given the expense.

A new shop front

Imagine the old shop on the high street, nice Victorian architecture, 140-year old glass and untold layers of thick paint, starting to peel and show a range of colours, none of which particularly reflect the brand persona.

The same goods have sat yellowing in the window for years. The same furniture and items for sale litter the interior of the shop, with outdated sales displays showing old stock, sending the same depressing message to the customer; we don’t care that much.

Now imagine the items for sale are actually very good quality, the best at what they do. Imagine the sales staff have valuable experience and unrivalled expertise. Visualise a workshop out the back with a catalogue of repairs that have attracted glowing testimonials from happy customers.

All this is the untold story of the business. This is just what the business does and it doesn’t need to tell anyone. Or at least that is the current thinking of the shop owner.

Shopfront makes the difference

Now imagine the same shop exactly, but with a trendy metal and glass front and electric doors that open upon approach, with a fancy backlit sign above the door, in a fashionable font and colour.

But the stock in the window remains the same, as does the salesfloor, the display, the furniture, the sales messages; nothing but the front of the shop has changed.

Of course, a few more customers might be attracted by the gleaming new glass and the shiny aluminium, with access made easy by the electric doors. But when they see the same stock, presented the same way, without the compelling story, will they continue to shop? Will they return?

And for me, that’s the problem when a business decides to make the change and get a shiny new website, with all the bells and whistles.

They want it secure and accessible, new photos, a new team page, video, animated explainers, live chat, new colours, enhanced scrolling, optimised for mobile access, the site needs to be search engine optimised, they need links and backlinks. But typically, the content remains the same.

The messages are muddled at best. The story of the business is poorly told; the experience and expertise of the personalities within the business fails to make it onto the page. The case studies demonstrating their previous excellence remains tired, lacking in detail and reads like a shopping list.

Never lost for words

So, if the first item on your marketing list of must-haves is a new website, please think carefully about the words you will use to tell your story, to explain why customers should buy from you and to detail the similar work you have done before.

And then think carefully about the content you need to add to your website on a regular basis to attract new customers and retain the attention of your existing ones. News, blogs, case studies, interviews with clients, there is an endless choice of ways to tell your story.

Just start talking and they will listen. There is a huge amount written about website fashion, what’s new, what works, the user experience, but for the average SME, that uses the website as a window into their world and a confirmation of credibility, the story is more important than the shopfront.

This is the reason why Work PR does not sell just websites, in the same way we do not just sell a press release or a company brochure. We work with our clients over time to help them tell their story, to the right audience in the right way to influence the buying decisions those people make.

And if a new website is deemed necessary, we will sort that too, but only after working on the message, the words that tell the story best and the ongoing content we supply on a weekly basis.

Real engagement of prospects comes from a genuine story told in a credible manner, whether that’s through a website and regular blog postings, with press releases to the media or posts on social media channels – everything else is just colouring in.