Does Your Website Make the Ask?

When I was a Girl Guide, the time of year I dreaded most was cookie season. I disliked asking people to buy cookies. I disliked going door-to-door. I even disliked asking my relatives. The whole process was not only foreign to me, but it filled me with dread and fear.

I think many of the business owners I meet today must have had a similar experience with sales growing up, because when I go to their websites to check out their companies, I have noticed that everyone seems afraid to “make the ask”.
When I land on a website, I want to know immediately what I can do there and why I should do it. For companies that sell products or services in the business-to-business category, this continues to be a challenge and problem for most websites. The majority of websites fail to clearly state, “this is what I want you to do on my website.” And offering up a “contact us” button doesn’t count.

Get the Facts…

If I use Google Analytics as a bench mark for the length of time visitors spend on a website, the average site visit is one minute, 36 seconds. The average home page visit is eight seconds. If you can’t articulate in 10 seconds or less, what you can do on a website and why someone should do it, you might as well print brochures and hand them out on the street because the results will be exactly the same – 99.9% will end up in the trash. Many website designs are so cluttered they make it hard to understand the core message of the site. Here are three questions you need to ask yourself about your website with your visitor clearly in mind:

  1. What do you want them to know?
  2. How do you want them to feel?
  3. What do you want them to do?

You need to know what the point is you want to make, make it painfully obvious, and then create action points that convert the visitor forward towards buying from you. Or encourage them to leave quickly because they are not a prospect.
Your website is a vehicle for you to deliver a message that is focused, clear, and brief. The idea is to stimulate their interest and encourage them to raise their hand and ask for more information in an unassisted way. Those conversion points can be many things. The trick is matching the conversion points to the stages of the buying process so that you can gauge interest. Here a great example to demonstrate the power of “making the ask.”

  • I land on a website. Hello!
  • Your website asks, “can I help you?” by offering up content on a business problem I have.
  • I say No, “just browsing” but clicking on things on your site.
  • Your website says, “then may I point you directly to our content on solving the business problem in one easy click with a downloadable whitepaper on 10 easy steps to solving your problem” by making this a painfully obvious big button in the top right corner of every web page.
  • I say, “yes that’s great. I can download now and read at a later date.”
  • Your website says, “just give me your email address and I will follow up with you.”
  • I say, “here’s my email address but not my phone number because I am not ready to speak directly with you yet.”
  • Your website says, “great, then let me put you on a mailing list and I will keep in touch until you are ready to talk in more detail.”

These conversion points are all actionable on your website and it tells me very clearly what you want me as a visitor to do. More importantly, as a marketing consultant, I can track, measure and monitor your interest.
It’s a simple question and one that most websites fail to answer in a direct and simple way. This is a common mistake with many marketing tactics. We talk about our companies in brochures, at trade shows and with prospects but often forget to offer an obvious next step whether it’s distributing a link to a landing page on a specific topic or capturing a name on a website. Whenever you provide anything to anyone, think about the next step and don’t be like me during cookie season. Make the ask!

Marketing CoPilot