You’re probably putting a lot of effort into your cold email campaigns — researching, tracking deliverability and open rates, honing your follow-ups and crafting the perfect message. If you’re not applying the same discipline to your website, you could be losing business.
After you connect on LinkedIn or send your first email, a lot of prospects will head to your website before they follow up. What will they find there, and is it serving you business?
“Everything is intertwined. You cannot have a website floating in void,” says Dragos Balasoiu, founder of strategic branding agency Crop Studio.
Your message and value proposition need to be consistent across everything you create. Your website should back up what you promise in an email or your LinkedIn profile.
Dragos joined this episode of Cold Email Outreach with Jeremy & Jack to share his tips on how to create a website that builds your authority and makes prospects want to work with you.
Build from the content first
When thinking about building a website, many people plan first for web development and design, even designing pages with placeholder copy before knowing what information will actually live there.
“If you don’t have the foundation, if you don’t have good content,” says Dragos, “[Good design] is like putting lipstick on a pig.”
Before you can build your website or design a page, you have to know what you want to say and how you want to say it. Design will follow.
If you design your website with filler text, you’re going to end up filling space with meaningless copy just to fit the design. Instead, Dragos recommends, figure out your message first, and design around it.
“The design is just a vessel for the content,” he says.
Be clear — and say less
One common mistake Dragos often sees businesses make with web page design is clutter — too much information or too many unnecessary images.
The first place a prospect will go to check you out is your homepage. It should immediately catch their attention and let them know what you can do for them — and nothing more.
“Get straight to the pain points and benefits for your clients,” Dragos says. “And that should be enough.”
Don’t be vague, don’t include superfluous stock photos and don’t drag on with a wall of copy sharing way more information than someone needs to understand who you are, what you do, and how to buy or get in touch.
Before you add an image — a photo or illustration — Dragos recommends, “Take that image, look at it separately from everything and ask if it brings any value to your visitors like that.”
If not, you don’t need it. It’s just clutter on the page to distract a reader from your message.
Both in writing content and designing how it will look on the page, remember most visitors will just skim. So facilitate that. Break up text, and draw the eye to important information using:
- h2, h3 and h4 headers — put the key points in a larger font.
- White space — break up paragraphs, and include lots of padding in your design.
- A single, clear call-to-action per page — don’t ask visitors to do multiple things at once.
Experiment to find out what works
The medium that works for your content — written, video, visual or audio — depends on your message and audience. The only way to know what kind of content is best is to test it.
You can test content easily using your cold email campaigns.
Dragos suggests, “Just do 100 outreach emails with a video, see the result based on how many people go to your website, then switch it and try it with something else.”
He warns that you can’t just create content and let it sit. That won’t give you an accurate understanding of its effectiveness. “You got to go out and spread the word.”
That means sharing your content on social media to let people know it’s there. Share it in an email. Repurposing is also a good way to get a lot out of a piece of content. Turn an article into a graphic, video and social media post to let people engage with it wherever they are.
Another easy way to test and adjust your website content: Ask your clients what your website needs.
“Go to your clients and the people who already contacted you and ask them, ‘What didn’t you find on the website that you wish was there?’”
Nudge prospects in the right direction
When prospects head to your website after you connect with them or send a cold email, they tend to want to answer one question: Are you worth their time?
Your website and entire web presence is an opportunity to show them who you are, why they should want to work with you and that you’ve got the expertise they need. An active and authoritative blog and social media presence can convey that.
“Give value to your customers up front for free, not being salesy, and you’re going to get all the authority you need,” Dragos says.
Your content gives prospects a chance to see how you think and communicate, important factors on whether they’ll want to work with you.
“The business is still people connecting to other people and people buying your services and products. You have to build that rapport.”
Don’t rely on testimonials or brand icons
As with anything in marketing, some effective tactics get overused, and prospects become immune to them. Dragos says customer testimonials and client brand icons are among those.
“Building authority is more than slamming some testimonials on your homepage,” he says.
While visitors still might trust third-party ratings and reviews (though increasingly less), most of us ignore testimonials on a company’s website. What proof do they offer when we know a company is obviously going to seek favorable testimonials?
Icons showcasing your clients have a similar effect. Dragos says, “I don’t care who you worked for, who your clients were. Tell me what you can do for me.”
That takes us back to content. Your content gives prospects some real value without any pressure to buy something. It builds your authority and helps you develop trust before you ever try pitching, so they’re open to it when you do.