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Dec 15, 201403:35 PMOpen Mic

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Why you need to use your website to teach your customers

(page 2 of 2)

In short, our customers are looking to us to provide answers to their very specific questions. When we use our websites to provide these answers — if we use our expertise to teach — we will be the trusted source of relevant and trustworthy information.

About that 57% ...

The Corporate Executive Board Co. and Google surveyed 1,500 CEB members, asking them, “How far do you get in the decision-making process before you start contacting potential suppliers?” Regardless of the price point or the complexity of the purchase, their research shows 57% of the decision is made before customers even talk to vendors.

So what does this mean to us? It means that due diligence (i.e., research done independently) has now moved to the very front of the sales process. Instead of starting to shop for a car at the dealership itself, customers are researching vehicle options, prices, and potential inventory before stepping foot on the car lot. Instead of touring open houses as a first step to buying a new home, purchasers are researching school districts, sales trends, and new vs. existing homes before putting on those little blue booties to protect the carpet from their dirty shoes.

Customers now know exactly what they’re looking for before they even talk to you. So the most important question for us is “who’s taking the time to educate them?”

If your company’s website is simply a way for you to toot your own horn, then you’re missing the boat. The more quickly your company can transform your website into a teaching tool and not simply a sales tool, the more quickly you’ll start to win more business. Begin producing content to put on your website today by starting with this question: “If I were a potential customer of my business, what are the first things I would need to know?”

Spencer X. Smith is a Waunakee-based business consultant.

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Dec 16, 2014 06:19 am
 Posted by  kostermank

Couldn't agree more! The days of slapping a website online and hoping people will find you are long gone. Even the cliche "organic SEO" techniques have become almost completely irrelevant.

The way to be found (and trusted) online these days is definitely to create quality, relevant content. And a lot of it!

Very well said, Mr. Smith.

Dec 16, 2014 06:54 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Great article. He's right. Our customers know a lot more than they used to. Does the author mean we should have a FAQ on our site or something different? If he reads this I'd appreciate his thoughts.

Dec 16, 2014 11:04 am
 Posted by  EvanWing

Well said, Spence. I love how the questions that I ask Google truly aren't answered by a simple keyword search anymore. When I'm researching (and could be as simple as how to change a headlamp on my car), I pretend that I'm literally speaking the question to Google in a conversation, and my question gets answered within the first few search results. It's almost comical having that "conversation" with a computer work so well.

To Anonymous above, I won't put words in the author's mouth but it seems to be a more living/breathing, active portion of a Web site vs something a bit more static as an FAQ section, I could be wrong though.

Dec 16, 2014 11:10 am
 Posted by  EvanWing

I love the evolution of the keyword search! My questions definitely do not get answered as well if I leave the meat and potatos of a sentence out of my question. I'm always shocked at no matter how specific my question is, someone out there has answered it. From changing a headlight on my truck to the benefits of buying local, the answers are out there.

Nice article, Spence. Have really enjoyed reading your blog these past few months. Keep up the good work.

Dec 16, 2014 03:21 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Terrific article! People are smarter today, and they want to do business with those companies that they can feel good about. I have read several articles by Spencer, and his words always make me think simply because they ring so true!

Carolyn Alane Tretina

Dec 17, 2014 09:28 am
 Posted by  Spencer X Smith

Great question on the FAQ. Taken literally, the acronym FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions, right? Answering commonly-asked questions from your customers would be an ideal starting point.

However, FAQ has morphed into more of a super-concise Q&A. What year was your firm founded? 1981. What geographical area do you service? Madison & Dane County. etc.

I'd propose taking those commonly-asked questions and adding some color to them as though you're meeting someone in person at Barriques. If that person asks you, "What price do you charge?" you're typically not going to respond with one sentence. You might say, "It depends, and typically, in a situation like yours we'd consider the following..."

When we write articles for our website, pretending like we're having a conversation allows our customers and potential customers to learn from us. Instead of just offering lifeless data, we can help the readers educate themselves by way of your expertise. Consider answering questions on your site with articles of at least 300 words. That's akin to a 2-3 minute conversation, and your readers (as well as Google and the other search engines) will reward you for it.

Hope this helps!

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