When searching for products or services online, I’m probably no different than you. I have a set of priorities, based on the type of product or service I’m seeking.
This post really doesn’t apply to shopping or retail sites. At some point in time, I need to buy a routine product, like a movie, razor blades, or a new printer. In that case, I just want the best price, easy checkout, and quick delivery. For other types of searches, I need much more information.
First is finding a provider located near me—this is particularly important for personal services, like pet sitters, plumbers, lawyers, you name it. Second is understanding their qualifications—do they have an important certification, membership in a business association (e.g., Better Business Bureau, local chamber of commerce, etc)? But a close third is trying to educate myself through the search itself.
Sy Syms famously said in his 1980s television commercials: “An educated consumer is our best customer.” Most business owners would agree. Prospective buyers who know something about the goods they want to buy ask better questions. Think of it as building better customers.
Differentiating Your Business
For instance, very few of us can claim to be experts in purchasing new central air conditioning systems. If a company’s website includes good information on problems to avoid in choosing a new or replacement system, that’s worthwhile education. I appreciate informational tools that help me understand what size system best fits my home as well. And it keeps me on this one website longer. Importantly, if they are a local company, I’m almost certain to invite them to my home for an estimate.
New educational web pages and informative blogs fulfill two of my requirements for a service- or consulting-oriented website: (1) providing actual assistance to the visitor and (2) boosting its visibility on web search engines.
Don’t get me wrong: Attractive web design does play a part in viewer “stickiness” on the site. But even basic sites that offer content that visitors want to see can be successful, particularly if promoted through Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook posts.
The easiest way to start is to check out competitors’ sites. Does a bank or credit union provide loan payment calculators? Of course they do. But do they offer the “top 5 dos or don’ts” in choosing a lender?
Does a financial services consultant offer tips on choosing between retirement plans? How about an electrician educating potential clients about the benefits and disadvantages of portable versus stand-alone generators for their home?
What can you add to the conversation? Perhaps you can address a new topic. Can you lead visitors to a useful tool that can help them understand key issues in their decision?
Even more simply, if a family member were buying your own service, how would you advise him or her to proceed? That’s your first blog or page. Does it entail multiple steps? That’s blog number 2, 3, and 4.
Make sure that you can take full advantage of the copy you’ve created. That is, use it in your other marketing communications, like brochures and exhibit booth handouts. Make sure that the copy fits the latest search engine algorithms like Google, so that it helps visitors find your website and your business.
Finally, don’t stop after you’ve completed one or two educational pieces. Think of your website as an educational resource, where visitors can drink from the fountain of your expertise, time and time again.