Websites for Manufacturing: The 5 Requirements for a Powerful Manufacturing Website

Manufacturing websites are a niche that make them different from other kinds of websites. They need to display their products in such a way that searchers can find and visit the page of the specific product they want. They need to be searchable. But they also need to show the quality of the product, of the people making the product and even the process and standards that go into creating the product.

Here are the five requirements for a manufacturing website that actually connects with customers and potential customers:

  1. It needs to have a product database. Whether you actually sell directly online or just show the products, the database needs to function like an ecommerce site where you can view individual product pages, get the specs, perhaps even see reviews and get support for the product.
    All of this can and should be done through a product database so you can dynamically display different products – by category, most popular, possibly even by price or SKU.
  2. The design of the site must be compelling. Unless you are a big, nationally known brand, you want to engage visitors right from the start on what they need. The first step of that process is to confirm for them that you are a legitimate source for the product they need.
    Compelling images of your products, perhaps being created or finished are an excellent way to show your workmanship, display what you actually do and impress with your quality work.
      1. It needs to have a product database. Whether you actually sell directly online or just show the products, the database needs to function like an ecommerce site where you can view individual product pages, get the specs, perhaps even see reviews and get support for the product.
      2. All of this can and should be done through a product database so you can dynamically display different products – by category, most popular, possibly even by price or SKU.
      3. The design of the site must be compelling. Unless you are a big, nationally known brand, you want to engage visitors right from the start on what they need. The first step of that process is to confirm for them that you are a legitimate source for the product they need.
      4. Compelling images of your products, perhaps being created or finished are an excellent way to show your workmanship, display what you actually do and impress with your quality work.
      5. Finally you need to have clear and effective calls to action. One of the biggest downfalls for manufacturing websites is displaying information without moving folks to the next step. By having a good next step on each page of your site, you will not only engage your web visitors but convert them into customers.

      Does your site do all five of these? If not, give EduCyber a call. We can tweak your existing site or design a whole new site to help you grow.

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Four Reasons Why You Won’t Want to Work with EduCyber

Yes, we’re telling you why you would choose NOT to work with us. Here we go:

  1. You want a website that looks just like your brochure

    If you see no difference between print collateral and
    your digital presence, then you probably don’t want to work with us. Your brochure is a great tool to hand out and leave behind after a meeting. Your web site though should be engaging and should always have a next step in order to deepen the relationship. If that isn’t what you are looking for, then you won’t want to work with EduCyber.

  2. You are not interested in measuring or considering ROI

    If you see your website as an expense and not an investment, you won’t want to work with EduCyber. Understanding how your web site fits into your marketing and sales is an integral part of our web design process. You can and should have an expectation of a return on that investment and we help our customers set and measure the return on investment. But if you just have a budget line that needs to be spent, you won’t want to work with EduCyber

  3. You want to hire a firm to do what you want, instead of wanting to partner with a firm that has strategic expertise in web design

    If your goal is having a firm that will place your pictures and your words right where you want them, regardless of how it translates in digital marketing, then we aren’t the firm you want to work with. With two decades of experience in helping customers craft messages and researching what does and does not work in user experience and design, EduCyber brings a wealth of information and insight to each project we undertake.

  4. You haven’t gotten new customers from your site so far so you don’t believe you can even with a redesign

    If your current site hasn’t generated a single new customer for you so you firmly believe that a web site can’t convert visitors into customers either, then you won’t want to work with EduCyber. When we hear that – and believe me, we hear it a lot – I like to add “so far” to the end of each sentence. “We’ve never gotten a customer from our site so far.” “Customers in our industry don’t come through the website so far.” “With our business model, we don’t get customers through our website so far”. And on and on.

Those who do choose to work with EduCyber become believers when their phone rings or the email, comes in and suddenly a connection from their website becomes a customer.

If the reasons above don’t apply to you, you might want to Work With Us.

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Strategies for High Converting Websites

So what does it take to “take your site to the next level”? Whether you have a new web site or are looking to get a new site, there are several things you can do that high converting websites do. What are highly converting websites? Ones that get people to take action – fill the funnel like this:

Here are the strategies we recommend for highly converting websites:

  1. Make your unique value proposition clear.
    Your business is unique. Why do people choose to do business with you? Why do they choose you over other choices? What sets you apart in your industry? The clearer you are on why people choose you, the more the right kinds of people will respond via your website.
  2. Test Calls to Action and use just one
    Unclear or confusing calls to action on your website can kill your business. Determine what you want people to do and make is crystal clear on the site what that is.
    It sounds so simple. And yet I had one potential client tell me last week that his NEW website doesn’t have a call to action. Yep. That is the case. He paid someone to build a website for his business but there is no next step for users to take.
  3. Test your headlines
    The words that you use on your pages matter. If you are getting traffic to a page but no conversions, try changing the headline or headlines on a page. Sometimes changing one word on your website can make a big difference. Imagine a used car parts online store with the words “Satisfaction Guaranteed” displayed prominently on their site. Satisfaction is fuzzy. What does that mean? Not clear. Change Satisfaction to Money-Back though and now I, as a potential customer, have a very clear concept of what happens. I can buy this part and if it doesn’t work, I get my money back.
  4. Use short forms
    If you are trying to build your email newsletter subscribers, don’t ask for the mailing address. The only thing you really need is the email address. If you’re going to add fields so it can say, “John, check out this sale” then you might want to capture the first name or simply have a name field. Only ask for the information you need and you are much more likely to get conversions.
  5. Use trust symbols
    While they may be legally required to do so, it does give us comfort or increase our trust when we see or hear a bank commercial that includes something like “FDIC Insured”. This is a signal that this place is legit. You can do the same thing on your website, even if you aren’t a bank.
    You don’t operate in a vacuum. Demonstrate that to the world. What organizations do you belong to or what certifications have you attained that show visitors they can trust you? Consider industry specific groups or chambers or other business organizations if you are in the B2B realm. If you are B2C, consider things like the Better Business Bureau or a seal from your ssl issuing company if it is an ecommerce site. If any of these groups or places have logos that you can use, they provide great visual cues for the trust you deserve.

How many of these strategies are you already using? If you are using 4 or 5, congratulations! You probably already have a high converting website. If you are using 2 or 3, kudo’s to you. You are taking some good steps towards making your site help your business. But if you want more, contact us and we’ll help you explore what can be done. If you are using only 1 or perhaps none of these strategies, stop. Pick up the phone. Call 303-268-2245 ext 4 and tell us you want help getting your site to convert more.

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A New Question for your Website

Free or low cost services to get you a web site abound. Why should you choose a firm like EduCyber and pay them a lot more instead of getting your free web site?

But there is a new question you should consider when it comes to your website:

What is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of your website?

Let’s break this down into the two basic parts:

  1. What are the resources needed (your investment)?
  2. What is the return you expect or need from that investment?

The answer to the first question seems clear: For a Wix or SquareSpace or PageCloud site, your cash investment is very small. Or is it? The resources needed to navigate these DIY sites are both time and expertise. Do you have the time to devote? If so, do you have the technical expertise to understand design, layout, html, site flow, integration with 3rd party applications, and conversion optimization to name just a few of the areas you need to understand to create an effective web site? If so, then good for you but might I also suggest you start (or come to work for) a website design company?

If you don’t have this key resource – expertise – then you can of course hire an outside company to do your site for you on one of these platforms. But honestly, if you are going to hire someone anyway, why not hire a firm that can build you a web site that you own? Did you know that? You can of course build your site on one of these platforms but then when your time is tied up in your business and you want to move your site somewhere else, what happens? Oh, you are stuck with that platform and service. Or you get to start over again.

One of these platforms brags that you can “layer, resize, rotate, stretch and more” but what happens when you have no idea what layer means? Or if you don’t understand the importance of resizing your images? Another of these platforms has its own app market. Hmm. A free web site that has a market? Sounds like the ole’ bait and switch scheme to me. Sure it is free. Until it isn’t.

So yeah, for a low low price you get your own website. But then we need to answer the second question, what is the ROI?

At its base level, the question is “Would you prefer to pay $240 / year for a web site that brings in no new clients or would you prefer to pay $7500 for a web site that generates $75,000 / year in sales?” If you view your web site as an expense, then by all means, go with one of the free or low cost firms. Interestingly, I don’t see any information on any of the low cost sites on ROI. A firm like EduCyber on the other hand will walk you through, from the design process on, understanding what your expectations are (and helping you set them if you haven’t considered it) as far as how your site fits into your business model and how it can help you grow.

We have in depth conversations with each of our website design clients about how we can help them grow – attract and retain more customers – via their website. And we design them accordingly. Would you like a 300% return on your investment in one year? We have done that for a client. Would you like to increase your subscriber rate two-fold or five-fold? We help you determine what makes sense and then build your site to do that.

So what is the total cost of ownership for your site? How much time and how much expertise do you or your staff have? When you want to move your site somewhere else, what will it cost? How do you integrate your CRM into your website using your free platform? What will you do when your designated web person on staff leaves? How can your business grow via your website? What actions do you want people to take on your website?

Answering these questions are important in adding up the total cost of ownership and while the free or low-cost alternatives look attractive from the start, make sure you are prepared for the costs on the backend.

I am often asked how what we do compares to these services. My short answer is “it doesn’t”. If you get the value you want from one of these services, I actively encourage you to go for it. But if you want to be freed up to focus on your business and doing what you do best, I encourage you to consider EduCyber for your web site design.

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Making Connections

Your web site is a networking tool. For most organizations, whether you make stuff, sell stuff, offer services or perform some kind of service for the community (as in non-profits), your standing in the community and your connections to your community are what makes business work.

Often I talk with prospects who see their website as a completely separate entity that is somehow disconnected from their organization. This is wrong. Often it is sadly wrong.

Your website is an integral part of making connections with your community. Depending on what you do and who your market is, your web site might:

  • Reinforce your reputation: If you’ve been around for a while and you do good work, your website can reinforce that by describing jobs you’ve done (case studies), share testimonials from happy customers or even show work visually that you have done with video and pictures. These all reinforce your reputation so that as potential clients check out your website either before or after a meeting, they can get a feel for your experience
  • Generate leads: We see so many service based websites that simply describe their offerings. There is no call to action. There is no next step for the interested visitor to take. But it is often a straightforward process to add or integrate a call to action right in. We built a web site for a private school that generated, over four years, 240 concrete leads – potential students making inquiries. What would you do if you had an additional 240 customers over the last four years?
  • Communicate with customers: On the flip side, we have some customers who are so focused on using their site to generate new leads, they forget about existing leads and customers. But your web site can be a great way to communicate with people. Whether you post new information or events regularly or have logins for your customers, there are myriads of options to engage your existing customers and leads via your website.
  • Close the deal: A great way to do business. You can set it so that potential customers, as the last step in the sales process, fill out an evaluation or other form on your site and then close the deal. Closing can be as simple as filling out a form, as rewarding as collecting payment online, or as complex as creating a profile.
  • Selling stuff: Nearly identical to closing the deal, selling stuff is great. If you have a service or product that can be purchased online, handling it that way is great. Sometimes it might be as simple as putting something in your cart and checking out. Other times it might be clicking the pay invoice link in your email and going to your online payment form. Whatever works for you is great as long as you have planned your site to do this step.

So take some time today, if you haven’t already, to integrate your site into your network so it helps you grow.

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Becoming a Customer (Part 3)

There should always be a next step! And if that step is up to you, you had better carry through! A well-known Hollywood director said “Showing up is 80 percent of life.” Successful businesses often take that one step further – showing up is 90% of success. Our first two articles on Becoming a Customer examined how a well thought out call to action is important and how good design should focus attention on that call to action. In this article we’re going to look at the next step.

You should ALWAYS have a next step

We all have heard or experienced the customer service story from hell – whether it be some kind of bait and switch story, a firm just completely dropping the ball, or endless promises of satisfaction that never materialize. But what about the delightful stories of promises not only kept but surpassed?

Probably the most important aspect of “becoming a customer” is to always, every time, without fail, provide a next step. That is the showing up part. And much of it can be automated or semi-automated. When a customer schedules an appointment online you can have an automated email thanking them and confirming the time. Or you can have a staff person actually confirm the scheduled appointment time works and then click to send the automated reply.

If you have people sign up for your newsletter. You kind of need to send out a newsletter. Otherwise you’ve just alienated folks. The idea situation is that, on confirmation of a subscription, the customer is sent the last newsletter automatically. But the other part of this is setting the proper expectation. How frequently will you be sending your newsletter? Adding that into the subscription process and sticking to it will make your subscribers happier.

We worked with a private school to build their website. After much discussion we set the call to action to be “Schedule a Tour” but we didn’t stop there. If you visit that school’s website and schedule a tour, you have just taken the first step in the enrollment process. And the follow up email lets you know that if you have already decided to enroll, you can click the link to continue the process. You always need to have a next step.

And if your site doesn’t have a next step, you should contact EduCyber today to remedy this situation! Call Brian at 303 268-2245 ext. 4.

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Becoming a Customer (Part 2)

Can your web site design (not the content) help you get more customers?

In our first article on <becoming a customer>, we discussed the content aspect – having a clear call to action on your site. In this article, we are going to investigate whether the visual design elements of a site can help your visitors become customers.

You should always have a clear call to action

I remember the very first user testing we did years ago. We identified a person who would be a great potential customer for our new client and had him go through their existing website, sharing his stream of consciousness as he navigated the site through the tasks we gave him. The web site’s “clear call to action” was a flashing red button in the right column. Our tester mentioned it only briefly – “I’m not looking at the ads in the right column”.

Ouch.

That customer learned a good lesson that day. People were ignoring their call to action. Think about how ads work today on many websites, especially news sites. They used to have banner ads and right column (and left column) ads. Now most of them use inline ads. You read a paragraph. You are interested. You want to read more. As you scroll down the page, you see the inline ad and then your content. You have just interacted with the ad – an ad you may have skipped had it not been right in line with the content.

This is actually one of the exciting parts of what we do in this business. Design matters! Sometimes (often times) it is a subtle change that makes all the difference. Change a button from blue to green and suddenly people start filling out your form. Move the secure transaction logo next to the complete transaction button and suddenly people start buying your products. Move your call to action from a side column to inline with your content and the phone starts ringing.

Suddenly becoming a customer is easier for people on your website. And if you’d like help making your design work FOR you, you should work with us.

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Becoming a Customer (Part 1)

Have you ever thought about how you interact with web sites?

When we speak with potential clients, they rarely have stopped to think about how they want visitors to interact with their site. But what does it mean to become a customer? That, ultimately is what every business owner wants from their website.

Social media websites have it easy – some would say too easy. To become a customer all you have to do is create a free account and start sharing. A cousin of mine just joined Facebook last week. Within minutes of joining, he was able to be posting and sharing. Facebook had just acquired another customer that they can then sell ads to – and make money.

If you aren’t clear on your goals, neither is your customer

But what about a service company? How do you want visitors to interact with you? Too often I look at a web site and it has a pleasant enough look and it displays information. And when I talk to the business owner and ask “What is your goal for your web site?” the answer is “I want to educate (or inform) the visitor.”

But isn’t it really more than that? Very rarely, unless we’re talking to a school, is the goal to educate. Almost always, even for the schools, the goal of the site is to acquire more customers. For social media sites, that can be as simple as having a new person with an account. For ecommerce sites, the goal is pretty obvious, successfully complete the checkout process after putting “stuff” in your shopping cart.

But there are many other very good goals. If you have a long sales cycle, you might be getting a huge win every time someone signs up for your newsletter. If you are a consultant, your goal may be for someone to fill out a form before downloading a white paper or other document. If you are in the trades like a plumber or electrician, having someone schedule an appointment online could mean you just got another customer. For many businesses, simply getting the phone to ring is a win. If that’s the case, make sure you have a clear call to action focused on why calling you is a great idea.

EduCyber can help you get a clear call to action – why not work with us?

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What is Your Focus?

“Brian, I just learned that a competitor is getting 60% of their business through their website. How come my site isn’t?” This question and many with a very similar tack gets asked a lot in my business. That along with customers new or existing asking about all the spam emails promising great results in the search engines or a huge number of leads coming in.

How does a company get a website that generates qualified leads consistently?

The simple one-word answer is focus.

This site http://arngren.net/ is a great example of a site without focus.


There are so many choices, so many things to look at, to click on, to decide on, that most people simply click the only button they know for sure will help them – the back button. This site is trying to sell you everything from the front page. Everything.

Now take a look at http://www.converse.com.

They too have a lot of different products from shoes to clothing and within shoes a wide range from Men’s to Women’s and Children. And yet their site is focused on what they do best, what they sell most: shoes. If you’re looking for an athletic shoe, you can quickly figure out whether this site can help you or not. You see three very different styles beneath the picture.

Giving folks THREE choices is just right. More than that and they have to think too much. If they pause to think, they’ll likely remember that they were really interested in Nike shoes, not Converse. Or that Zappos has all kinds of shoes and all kinds of deals. But by showing three clear choices, Converse draws us deeper into the site. This pulls us deeper into the sales funnel and makes it more likely we’ll click the checkout button and pay.

One click further in you can give a few more choices if needed but the key still is focus. We recently started working with a new customer that handles residential and commercial flooring. The owner clearly recognizes that most of his web business will be residential. So there will be a small link on his home page to commercial flooring but the main choices will be residential choices. Notice, he is NOT saying “We don’t do commercial flooring” and he is not hiding it. But the FOCUS on the home page will be the residential choices because that is where the web leads will come from.

The biggest pushback we get from business owners is that by focusing on a niche, they exclude their broader market. I say that is nonsense.  In fact, the more focused you are on a niche, the better you present your company and the MORE folks outside of your target want to use your services.  Disagree? Let me know!

 

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Transition Points

This morning our little part of the world was recovering from a brief snowstorm. As I left the building for a client meeting and again as I returned to my office, there were people (different folks each time) standing at the door talking. I noticed it because the atrium was getting cold as they stood there, door ajar, discussing whatever it was they were discussing.

Transition to a new website!

But it got me thinking about transition points. When you leave a room or a building, it is a transition point. And something catches your attention which is why folks often stop to talk right then. Visiting a web site is a transition point. For most of us, we’ve been engaged in a different activity but now we are suddenly looking at a web site – perhaps it is your web site.

This is the opportunity for us, as web site owners, to have a conversation with the visitor. To engage them and help them understand what is in store for them as they move deeper into the site. In my experience above, the change in temperature was something that caught the attention of folks and made them stop to talk.  What is your site doing or what should it be doing at this key Transition Point?

One mistake that many website owners make at this point is to show lots of pretty pictures without asking the visitor to step deeper into the site. These are the “sliders” or rotating images that make up the top part of so many web sites. Site owners love them because it is such a great way to showcase all the great features of their product or service. The only problem is visitors are usually not looking for features, they’re looking for benefits.

Transitions present opportunities. To take full advantage of the opportunities presented, we, as website owners, need to carefully consider what our visitors want. No matter what your business is, a great way to understand what your web site visitors are looking for is to ask your existing customers. What benefit do you get from our service / our product / working with us? Use what you learn to redo your front page and possibly to redo your site structure.

The conversation need to continue to change (your front page needs to change over time) in order to keep engaging people as they come through your door (enter your site). We have a customer whose site brought in 45% more revenue the first year we redid it. But as we have continued to make changes, it has averaged more than 20% increase in revenue each year. The key to success is to grab the visitor at the transition point and engage them. Then just keep moving them along until you’ve successfully won their business.

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