Wednesday, September 14, 2011

EXPLORING YOUR COMPANY'S WEBSITE

A lot of articles have been written about improving websites, both here and from just about anyone that offers SEO services.  I've done whole articles about how boring and amateurish a lot of modular home factory websites are.  Now it's time to make a believer out of you.

If you are the owner of a modular home factory, a member of management, the sales manager or one of the sales reps, I want you to try something this week.

Ask someone that has never been on your website to go there while you observe.  It would be preferable to watch them from another room but if that isn't possible, sit far enough away that you won't interfere with them  but close enough to see where they go to within the site.  Be quiet and don't yell at them that they are not doing it right.

Now let the fun begin.  You've probably been on your website hundreds of times and maybe even helped with the design and how you wanted people to navigate it.  Well, guess what Buckaroos, people don't do what you want them to do.

What you think should be an obvious starting point on your site is very often overlooked with the visitor going to a page that needed the page before it to explain what is on the current page.  You try to tell them that they went to the wrong page but remember, you can't say anything to guide them.  Sit, be quiet and observe.

Next, for some unknown reason they jump to another part of your site, spend a couple of seconds there and then go to another and another and another page without reading the wonderful stuff you added telling the visitor why they should buy from you.

They look at the pictures without clicking on the floor plans.  How rude!  They didn't even look at the great testimonials you added. Finally they either click on the contact page or simply go to another site.  Total time invested...less than 3 minutes!

For the people that don't go directly to your site, they probably Googled "modular homes" and found you among the crowd.  I guess you have about a one in a hundred shot at getting clicked unless you're one of the top ones listed.  Even then, Google has this neat feature that breaks your site into different parts with links to some of the most obscure sections of your website.  Do you know that there are people that don't know how to get to your home page from within your site?  You better believe it!

The whole point here is to help you become aware of how fractured your website can be to a visitor.  It might be easy to use and it makes a lot of sense to you but people that are searching a dozen websites from 7:00 PM until their favorite TV show starts at 8:00 won't waste time trying to understand the logical path you want them to follow.


If your company can afford it, you should hire a marketing company to do a test of your site using at least 50 people that have never visited a modular home website before.  The results could change your idea of how a website can help your business.

6 comments:

William said...

Coach, do you have any statistics regarding hits on modular company's web sites? Are they getting hits and if so are they obtaining information on those who hit?
What is the closing rate for those who hit the web sites and indicate they are looking to buy a home within "x" time frame?
Does mod company personnel followup on these leads (thinking most of them are from retail and not builder leads) or simply refer them to builders in the leads geographic area.

Anonymous said...

Path tracking on web sites is interesting. It tells you the exact path and pages vistors looked at. It also tells one how long they spentbon each pages. In addition it gives the entry and exit page. Hope this helps.

Coach said...

There are tons of reports available to knowledgeable web masters that design and maintain the modular factory websites. That's not the problem.

It's just that the owners are no more in touch with their website visitors than they are with the end consumer; the people that are actually buying and mortgaging a new home.

Old dogs, new tricks? Yeah, like that happens every day.

William said...

Thanks Coach -- that was EXACTLY the answer I thought I would get from you. You have the industry owners pegged 100%. The only thing you left out is they think they know everything so why do they need to change.

Coach said...

William, they took a huge risk starting their companies, both financially and personally. They put everything on the line to make their business a success.

Now they need to get involved with the business of attracting and keeping builders and the builder's customers. I would bet that 99% of them do not understand the real potential of social media and how it will impact their business over the next 10 years.

Their website is just the first part of this social awareness and if they don't understand how to use it effectively then how in the world will they ever be able to exploit Tweet, blog or Linkedin, Tumblr, etc.

ecologism said...

Coach, as an internet marketer for a mod dealer I think you pegged it right on, there are a few dealers who have their act together, and plenty of lead peddlers who dominate the traffic, but the manufacturers have a ways to go, they spend lots and lots of money on bells and whistles for their websites but are ignoring the SEO and social media aspects to a large extent. On a side note most these dealers are old school hud dealers and they aren't gonna change...