Whether you sell real world products or offer an intangible type of service, such as consulting, you should have a written process in your business that dictates how someone goes from being a cold prospect, who doesn’t know anything about you or what you do, to a lifelong, satisfied client.
This kind of process is known in the internet marketing vernacular as a “funnel,” because as cold prospects filter through your system, more and more people gets screened out. Hence, the “people throughput” narrows over time, as prospects matriculate through your system, leading to a kind of funnel like or cone like shape. Having an articulated common sense funnel – that’s based on validated truths about how your business actually works – can be a potent tool not only to scale your business (and one day to sell it) but also to inform your design, your copywriting and everything else having to do with your website.
When many small business owners dream up their site designs or try to revise them or “make them better,” they often do so without actually thinking about the very particular process that they want their clients to climb through over time. Without this standard in place, the design creation or revision process can easily expand and lead to a purposeless meander.
Should the site have a mauve background or a bright pink background? Should the copywriting be fun and “market-y” or formal and sincere? Should the logo be huge and above the fold or subtle and at the bottom of the site?
To answer these questions in a way that’s actually going to be meaningful for your business (both in terms of ROI for you and in terms of how your customers interact with what you’ve built), you need to have a clear understanding of what your customers are actually going to be doing, not just at your site but also inside your business.
For instance, let’s say you’re trying to convert cold traffic on your site. A new visitor lands on your blog from Google. You ultimately want him to buy a box of your soapsuds and also subscribe to your monthly soapsuds newsletter service.
In an ideal world, you would convert him from someone who doesn’t know anything about your product into a lifelong soapsuds consumer. To make that happen, you need to know where he’s at, mentally and emotionally, and then greet him with an appropriate design and appropriate content, which will lead him to the next step in your funnel. Maybe that next step is to give your representative call. Maybe it’s to sign-up for a newsletter. Maybe it’s to purchase a product from your website. Whatever that process is, you need to know what it is, and it needs to inform your design, copy and other overall online presence.