For the next couple of weeks, we’re going to focus our attention on your website. There’s always a lot of buzz about SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing) and, of course, Google rankings. Rightly so, because each of those plays a role in how effectively your website can serve you from a marketing and sales perspective.  

But I think most companies approach the Web a little like the fable about the five blind men who were asked to describe the elephant that stood before them. The man who was near the elephant’s leg reached out, touched the elephant and announced that an elephant was like a huge tree trunk. The man who was by the tail, after feeling it, described an elephant like a bullwhip and so on.  

Although none of them were wrong, none of them were right either. That’s exactly where many companies are when they think about how to leverage their websites. They’re not wrong, but they haven’t got it quite right either. 

Let’s step back and take a more holistic view of the website’s purpose for being. You might have a website because it:
• Gives you credibility – it proves that you’re real.
• Tells the visitor what your company is all about and why it exists.
• Lists/shows what you sell/do.
• Educates your prospects on how you are different from your competitors and helps them make an more informed buying decision.
• Helps your customers and prospects by making them smarter/better in some way.
• Is an information repository so your customers can access things like users manuals, support forums, case studies and testimonials. 
• Provides ways to start a conversation, ask a question or give you feedback.
• May serve as a shopping portal and people can buy right there.

But if we step back a little farther, we can see through all those functionalities that your website is the entry point to your sales funnel. For most organizations today, their website is the initial point of entry that could lead to a sale today or five years from today.

That doesn’t happen by accident. Getting prospects to your site isn’t the end of the game; it’s just the beginning. Now your goal is to move them into and through your sales funnel. You have to build your site and everything that happens on it with that intention. 

Whenever I think of a sales funnel, I picture one of those plastic funnels people use when they do an oil change. The top of it is really wide, and the bottom is a very skinny hole. The funnel coincides with the “know + like + trust = sales” equation.

The top of the funnel is for catching all those people who have no idea you exist or that you sell anything they might need or want. This is where you are hoping they’ll get to know you.

The middle of the funnel is filled with all the ways you either keep them on your site or get them to come back. With repeated exposure, you’re hoping they’ll come to like you.

The smallest section of the funnel is where you’re hoping they come to trust you through repeated interactions, you continuing to be helpful, and you demonstrating a consistency in how you talk, behave and perform.

Once they’ve willingly squeezed themselves through that tiny little section of the funnel, they’ll be ready to buy. But not before.

Next week we’ll do a deeper dive into each section of the funnel and talk about how you can improve your website’s performance in each.