Fix Your Broken Web Site

Raise your hand if your web site stinks.

By “stinks” I mean that despite your best efforts to create something that looks good and reads well, it just doesn’t seem to have any positive impact on your business. No clients ever mention it:, no leads ever come from it; nobody in your organization ever raves about how useful it is as a tool for getting their work done. S-T-I-N-K-S..

You’ll be happy to know that you’re not alone. Most businesspeople that I speak with — regardless of the size of their company — groan uncomfortably when I ask about their web site, as if I had just inquired about their teenaged daughter’s newly pierced tongue.

There are any number of possible causes of an ineffective web site (click the “FREE BOOKLET” link at the top of this page for a look at the top 7), and one of them has to do with the home page. If your site’s home page is boring, unchanging and of little value to visitors, nobody’s going to bother digging further, much less come back with friends for a return visit.

What’s the solution? Well, as with most of mankind’s ailments, I look to E-Newsletters. In this case, my specific suggestion is to house the current edition of the company E-Newsletter on the home page itself (as we do here at Blue Penguin).

Here’s why:

• An E-Newsletter on the top page keeps the site fresh. If you publish your newsletter monthly, chances are it’s the most frequently updated piece of your entire site. If you really want somebody to come back more than once, the surest way to make that happen is to give them something different on the top page each time they arrive.

After all, no matter how engaging today’s Wall Street Journal might be, after you’ve read it you probably have no interest in ever seeing it again. Why then are we surprised when visitors don’t return to a web site whose top page hasn’t changed in 6 months? By having the E-Newsletter live on the top page, you ensure that your site changes regularly.

• An E-Newsletter on the top page gives visitors an immediate feel for your company. For professional services firms and others who don’t sell anything on their sites, one of the main web site objectives is to let people “check you out.” Well, if you’ve been writing your newsletter in the style we recommend (and if you haven’t you can leave now), it probably presents a much more accurate picture of your culture, your perspective and your business than does the smoothly crafted marketing speak that you’ve got up there now.

• An E-Newsletter on the top page leads with something other than you. By placing your newsletter first, you immediately give visitors something of value to them. If they get something out of your newsletter, they’re much more likely to read your “management bios,” “product summaries” and “recent press.” By leading with content that doesn’t focus on you, you make your site more interesting, more inviting, and ultimately more effective.

Bottom Line: Although you don’t need a web site to have an E-Newsletter (and vice versa), the two work terrifically well in tandem. Consider moving your newsletter up from the basement archives and putting it out front for all to see. Thanks for listening; you can put your hand down now.

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