A complete guide to a successful tradie website
Here at Bright Owl Marketing, it is not uncommon for us to hear various stories about “monumental tradie website fails.” The purpose of this article is to enlighten and educate all tradesman throughout Australia so you can make well-informed decisions. This is our own way of helping you avoid common ‘pitfalls.’
1. Start with an objective
What are you looking to achieve?
Do you plan to display your skills? Or perhaps you plan to have a system that brings you more clients?
Defining the main goal of setting up your website will make it easier to create a product that aligns with that goal.
For instance, a website alone may not bring in clients. To put your website in front of more eyes, you may need to implement some ingenious marketing tactics.
Digital marketing is classified into many parts, which serve various needs.
Having a clear objective in mind will help you choose the right marketing tactics to implement
You will probably require at least one of the marketing strategies below:
- Local SEO. This method is designed to increase your visibility in local searches.
- SMM (Social Media Marketing). This involves leveraging platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and can be free or paid.
- ‘Search Engine Marketing’ (popularly known as PPC, SEM, AdWords). They are paid ads on search engine result pages.
- ‘SEO’ (Search Engine Optimisation’). This is organic search engine marketing that does not involve paid ads.
If you have a clear objective in mind, it becomes easier for you to:
a) Outsource to the right people
b) Partner with them for the right solution
It’s always advisable that you work with a marketing consultant that clearly understands your objective and how to implement the above strategies to get conversions.
2. Let your message be clear
When someone visits your website for the first time, you need to capture their attention, and you only have about three seconds to do that.
Businesses that offer emergency services, such as electrical or plumbing services, may have an edge. However, it is critical that you instantly grab the attention of visitors landing on your website. You need to instantly tell them who you are and how you can help them.
This is part of the reasons why you should ensure every page of your website has a unique and clear message.
For instance, if you have three different services to offer, you should make a separate page for each of them. That way, when visitors search for a service you offer, they can land on a page that is tailored to that particular service.
A good example is if prospects click on your Google ads ‘blocked sinks,’ they should land on a page that only talks about blocked sinks.
If they have to land on your homepage and then find the link that goes to the page they are looking for, that would be considered ‘poor user experience,’ and it might cause them to leave your site.
One of the basic rules of content creation is that you make sure your message is clear.
If you are making social media posts, focus on one topic. If you are delivering your content via video, stick to one topic. If you’re dishing out a podcast, make it about one topic. That’s the idea.
3. Hire the right talent
Hiring a web designer to build your website isn’t child’s play. Don’t agree to work with them without asking the right questions. That alone could help you avoid some major pitfalls and regrets.
When you ask them the right questions, you can:
- Make your expertise known.
- Set a certain level of expectation.
- Test the contractor’s proficiency level
- Determine if they have good communication skills.
- Prove to them that you have some experience and knowledge about the topic.
Before hiring a contractor, you need to select a company that understands your business and the objective you want to achieve.
If your objective is lead generation, you should choose a web designer who can optimise your site. Many web designers have no idea about conversion optimization.
The best web design firms out there have some sort of ‘scoping system’ where they familiarize themselves with your tastes, goals, business, preferred features, etc.
Consider asking your web designer these questions before working with them.
- Do you understand the nature of my business? If they have no idea about your business, a long learning process awaits them.
- Could you show some of your past completed projects? If they’ve done similar projects before, you will be able to make the right decision.
- Here are my goals. How do you intend to help me achieve them? Their answer to this question will show you whether they understand how to position your website in the ‘digital ecosystem.’
- How will visitors be converted into paying customers on the website? Do they know how to optimise your website to get more leads and sales?
- What platform will the website be built on? If they insist on using their own website builders and platform, they may be trying to keep you tied to them. That means if you decide to make changes in the future, you will be forced to call them again.
- Could you suggest some effective Call-To-Actions? Can they come up with something that gets your visitors to take action?
- Do I have the freedom to stop using your service and find someone else? It would be best if you only were working with companies that deliver on their promises.
- Will I have full right to the website and all its content on completion? If you are paying for it, all the rights to the site should be yours!
- Are there any ongoing fees? There may be ongoing fees such as backups, support, security, hosting, etc. It’s good to know beforehand to avoid unnecessary drama.
- Is support included? It’s a smart idea to go with a company that offers support, so you don’t get stuck after the website has been released to you.
- Do you provide high-quality hosting? Without quality hosting, you might just be wasting all your efforts. Your website needs to be fast and secure. Also, make sure it’s hosted locally and across multiple locations, if possible.
4. First impressions are key
Do not miss out on the only opportunity to make a first impression! Your website tells a lot about your business and its values. Having a professional website is critical to the success of your business in this digital age. It’s probably your first contact with a potential client.
According to statistics, you have about three seconds to grab the attention of your website visitors, so your website’s visual design and layout must convey your message promptly.
A poorly designed website will pass the same message as when you go to a customer’s home, poorly dressed, tattered, and dirty. Of course, that would be unprofessional. However, there are many poorly built websites out there that turn potential clients off all day.
Modern websites should reflect ‘simplicity’
The days of unprofessional, clustered websites are long behind us. Today’s websites are built on more robust platforms that make use of easy-to-navigate user interfaces.
Your website should also be a tool to collect leads and build your database.
The plan is to ensure your visitors have the best user experience possible. Ensure there are contact forms and a conspicuously placed phone number on the page.
5. Make your tradie website as simple as possible
Today, there’s no need to have complicated websites. There are many tools and technological solutions designed to make websites extremely user friendly. You do not need coding skills, and you can make changes easily.
While these technological solutions exist, you’ll still need to work with a developer that knows the right tools to use and how to leverage them to give your website an edge. For instance, a CMS (Content Management system) makes it easy to organise and manage your website content and layout.
Our preferred CMS is WordPress, an open-source system used by many websites all over the world. It is the most user-friendly CMS, and it only makes sense to build your website using the platform.
There are many “plugins” that give your WordPress website more functionality.
We prefer WordPress because we want our clients to manage their websites without having to depend on us.
If they want to publish new blog posts, add images or update existing posts, we want them to do that on their own. Of course, support is available if they ever need it.
WordPress has lots of other pros.
For instance, some specialised plugins can be installed to reveal your website’s SEO’s detailed performance.
You can also have charts connected to your dashboard, which reveals insights such as the number of visitors landing on your website.
6. Make your tradesman website mobile-optimised
When it comes to mobile-friendly websites, there are two options:
You have the ‘mobile site,’ which is a specific version designed for mobile devices.
Your potential visitors land on one of two different websites, depending on whether they are on a mobile device or desktop.
In short, when people search from a mobile device, they land on the mobile site; when they search from a desktop computer, they land on the desktop version.
There is also the ‘Responsive Design,’ which is the second option. It adjusts your content to fit any screen size.
This means that the website content doesn’t change, regardless of the device being used to access your website. The content is only optimised to fit any screen size.
The information from Google shows that responsive design is the best option. If I’m searching Google for a plumber in my area, and the plumber I’m looking for does not have a responsive website, Google algorithm will push it further down the rankings.
Mobile-friendly websites will get a search engine boost.
Simply put, if your website is not mobile-friendly, you are not in contention.
7. Focus on giving an excellent user experience
User experience should be the priority of every serious webmaster, as that’s how you make visitors spend more time on your website. A good website result is when visitors can easily find what they are searching for, thus making it a more fulfilling experience for them.
We often see websites that place too many hurdles in front of their visitors. Things like pages without contact details, including too many fields in a web form, pages with no definite call-to-action, and unnecessary pop-ups on the Home Page that appear before a user even explores the site, etc.
If you are wondering how you can create a great user experience, the best way is to put yourself in the shoes of your visitor.
- Would you be comfortable with those same hurdles to get your desired result?
- What hurdles could be removed for a much-improved experience for the visitor?
- Does this answer the questions your visitors are asking?
At the end of the day, if great user experience is delivered, there should be a resulting action. Either a download, a web form, a phone call, etc. If they’ve subscribed for something you are offering on your site, ensure you deliver it to them without fail.
8. Focus on quality content
You should use content to pass your message across to your visitors. If you are not delivering value, they will likely not pay attention. For instance, a visitor lands on your website searching for information about a service or product you offer. Landscape gardening, blocked drains, home repairs, etc.
You should also create search engine optimised content, as they put your website in front of more interested eyes.
But you shouldn’t just focus on creating content for search engines; but you can however have them always in mind. If you want your content to be seen by people using search engines, then you need to optimise in a specific way to give it a chance of being found.
Below are some principles to keep in mind during content creation:
- Maintain relevance
- Ensure each page on your site focuses on one message at a time.
- Focus on benefits, not so much the features or process. For instance, people aren’t interested in the process involved in clearing a blocked drain; they only want to know if you can help them get rid of the problem.
- Try answering questions like when, how, where, who, why, what.
- Use categories, subheadings, bullets, etc.
- Vary the mediums. E.g., embed videos into a blog post, insert images in written copy, etc.
- Have a strategy. Avoid overselling.
- Use action-provoking call-to-action.
9. Social Proof
One of the reasons social proofing is effective is that it builds trust and allows prospects to relate to other people’s success stories.
Nothing convinces a prospective customer than the success story of someone who has been in their current situation and found a solution. Consider testimonials, for instance.
If used correctly, they can be extremely effective at driving conversions because they can help eliminate doubt and build trust.
Regardless of your position about testimonials, the bottom line is: they work. According to research, a prospect is more likely to buy from you if they’ve seen some testimonials.
It is also important to note that some people fabricate testimonials. This is never going to go away in the industry. But if you do it properly, they can increase your sales astronomically.
Here’s why some testimonials are ineffective.
- Lack of credibility
- There’s no clear logo or photo of the person giving the testimonial. It’s probably fake.
- It’s irrelevant or too long.
You can take the following steps to make them more effective:
- Make it direct and short.
- Let it be about how your product solved the person’s problem.
- Accompany written testimonials with photographs. Use bullet points where necessary.
- Ensure the testimonial is specific. If you are looking at multiple projects, craft multiple testimonials.
- Make it as real as possible.
- If it’s a video testimonial, ensure the lighting and sound are good.
When you obtain testimonials, ensure the process is easy for whoever is dropping it. For written testimonials, you can write them yourself and send them to the customers for approval before you publish them.
At the end of the day, only you can decide how you want to obtain your testimonials. The most important thing, however, is that you get it done.
Testimonials are effective, so incorporate them into your process.
10. Tell people what to do next
People won’t take action if you don’t tell them to.
Typically, people land on your site to learn more about your product or service. Once you’ve given them the information they seek, it’s time to lead them to the following steps, which will likely fall within the following categories:
They are ripe for the purchase
For visitors who are ready to make a purchase, you should have a system that walks them through the process. Will they purchase over the phone, is it an online booking, or is it a direct purchase from the website? You need to make it easy for them to place their orders.
They require further clarification
There’s a reason why a prospect isn’t ready to buy. It could be that the purchase process is too complicated, or maybe you have failed to effectively communicate your product’s value to them.
Automated email series remains a good way to feed people with more information. You can also get them on some form of a periodic newsletter.
Don’t forget that the reason they came to your website in the first place is that they are interested in something they want to know more about. Ensure you have a way of collecting your visitor’s email address. The best way to achieve that is to give them a gift, such as an eBook or a video course, in exchange for their email.
What you are doing in this scenario is guiding your visitors to join your email list so you can keep communicating with them.
They aren’t showing interest
If a visitor turns down all my proposals, I usually call them to know why. That way, I can propose an alternative, while also getting some information to help improve my business.
11. Make sure your tradie website is secure and performs well
Having a website that runs optimally is another aspect that will differentiate you from the competition. Here are a few things to consider to ensure yours runs as optimally as possible:
Good Web Hosting
Yes, every website needs a web host, and cheaper certainly does not mean better.
What you need to look out for is;
- How fast does your website load
- Does your web host use local servers
- Do they provide local support (phone, email, etc).
- How much bandwidth will your website receive each month
Did you know that your website needs to be continually updated throughout its lifetime? If you use a quality small business platform such as WordPress, then you’ll see this often gets updated each month, with major updates every 6 months or so. It’s important that your website uses the newest version and that your plugins are regularly updated too. This will further prevent your website getting hacked and will optimize the performance of your site too.
But before you update everything, make sure your developer or web host creates a backup of the site just in case one of yours plugins change some of the layout or functionality, and you have to rectify it something goes wrong or has to restore an older version.
If you can’t do this yourself, and that’s most business owners, then you should have a good developer or web host to help you out and manage these updates for you.
To give you a sense of how often we do this, we choose to run weekly and monthly updates of the websites we build and manage.
Also don’t think that just because a web host says it provides “managed hosting” that it will actively support your own website updates. It just means that they will manage their own server to ensure none of the sites they manage go down.
Some good questions to ask a provider
- Are you able to keep my website running on the current content management system (CMS) version?
- Do you provide WordPress plugin updates?
- When do you run these plugin updates?
To give you an idea of frequency, we choose to run daily, weekly and monthly backups
Analyse your website data
If you have a website then it makes sense to know how well it is performing and how users are navigating through each page.
Google Analytics is a free reporting system that should be linked to your site and provides a fantastic overview of what’s happening. You’ll be able to things like:
- How many visitors have clicked through to your site
- The behavior flow of visitors as they navigate from page to page
- Where your visitors are located
- What devises (mobile or PC) they are using to log onto your site
- Google will also advise on any errors on your site.
At the end of the day if you have a quality web host that updates your site and provides regularly backups, then it is unlikely that you’ll ever get hacked. Typically hackers are looking for weaknesses in your site, such as old versions and plugins that haven’t been updated with the latest malware protections.
By staying on top of this your site will require very little maintenance in order to run optimally.
12. Ready, Fire Aim
Let your marketing tactics drive strategy
With a good marketing plan you need to be really clear about what you want to achieve. That means you need to have realistic and measurable objectives, with a solid action plan and set budgets.
On the other hand, a Marketing tactic is what you have set up to help you achieve all the objectives of the marketing plan. This may include your email marketing, SEO, Google Adwords, branding and lead nurturing.
As you begin to execute the marketing tactics, you’ll most likely begin to split test certain components such as the offer, or the messaging or even just the headline to see which delivers the biggest bang for your buck.
In our experience, tactics end up driving the strategy just as much as strategy drives the tactical component. They’re not the finished product but they continue to shape your marketing campaigns. That’s why your marketing should be structured around a Ready, Fire, Aim approach. This is where you have to fire away, then listen carefully, respond accordingly, then lead again with.
Marketing Tactics are a great way of learning from an activity in real time. It’s very different to writing a marketing strategy which is preconceived. Your tactics are out there on the battle ground getting tried and tested. It changes the way you think.
If you’re unsure what tactic you should be working on now that you have your new tradie website is complete, then we suggest getting in touch with one of our friendly marketing consultants to help guide you through the options and what be achieved. After all, it’s better to be focusing on one or two marketing strategies and test them continually rather than just building a website hoping people will find you.