Best Practices for Professional Services
As a provider of a professional service, whether it’s accounting, management consulting, architecture or something else, you need a great website that helps drive business. However, professional services are a bit different than other websites such as product-based websites, e-commerce sites, and others. A different type of service requires a different type of website. So what does your professional services website need to be successful? Here are some vital website best practices:
What Are You Going to Do for Me?
Someone searching for a professional service rarely cares about things like how long you have been in business or how many people work for your company. If you can help them and satisfy their needs it doesn't matter if you've been in business for five years, fifteen or even fifty. Instead of providing this kind of information, provide them with something of value. Explain how you can make their lives easier and help them through whatever pain point triggered them to search for you.
Don't be fooled, people aren't actually looking for a professional service. What I mean is, nobody just hires an accountant to hire an accountant. They're hiring someone so they can get their taxes done. People are looking for a result and a way to achieve that result.
Furthermore, if they're already searching for a lawyer or management consultant, they probably know what it is that you do. Don't list off a bunch of vague services that you and all your competitors have in common. How do you differentiate yourself? Why should someone choose you over someone else? Tell people, upfront, what your unique value proposition is. It may sound crazy but you can play to people’s emotions here. How? Think about words like: protection, convenience, peace of mind. They convey a certain message that “efficient, professional, and experienced” just don’t.
People Do Business with People They Trust
This means your site should be sure to showcase a few things:
1. Professional photos, biographies and credentials: your people are your product! Having a well thought out biography and a professional photo helps people create a connection right away. Try to avoid cliché’ phrases such as “results-oriented” or “proven success.” Really tell your readers why working with people at your company will be great for them.
2. Trust symbols or things that indicate credibility: visitors have no reason to trust you from day one. You need to give them proof that you are credible and legitimate. Things like customer testimonials (with names and photos of real people!) are very helpful here. Links to projects you’ve worked on or events where you’ve spoken are great too. Be creative here and showcase all you’ve got going for you!
3. Examples of thought leadership in their given area: similar to mentioning events you’ve spoken at, adding examples of thought leadership are a great addition to biography pages. Has this person published a book? Have they contributed to an online study or article? Are there recordings or videos of any webinars they have been a part of? These are all great things to consider including so visitors to your site can get a true idea of who these people are that they may be working with.
A reality check on testimonials and quotes: If you've previously avoided this for fear of your clients being poached, maybe the first step here is to work on your relationship with your current clients. Once you feel like your clients aren’t so vulnerable and are happy with your services, ask them for a quote you could use on your website. If they're really willing, perhaps even try for a short, 30 second video clip. People want reviews from other people, not just you saying that you're good. If you don't think people search for and post reviews about just about everything, check out this one for the Arlington County Detention Center. It got 3 stars!...that's more than a lot of hotels! A private defense lawyer in southern California started reviewing prisons on Yelp! He said "I think the reviews are actually helpful for bail bondsmen, attorneys, family members — a lot of people, actually.” in an article by the Washington Post. It's true, people look for reveiws for just about everything.
What Do We Want? Fresh Content!
When do we want it? Consistently! If someone lands on your site and there is a blog but the last post is 3-4 months ago, this is a clear indicator that your web game is not up to par. You could be using this content space to be providing potential clients as well as current clients with helpful information that will build your relationship with them. Have social networks for your business but never update them? This can appear as if you just don't care about your readers and those are your potential customers. PS don’t get scared by the term “social networks.” Remember, LinkedIn is a very business-focused social network free of the silly memes and game requests you’d find on Facebook. Tackle social networks one at a time and only invest effort in the ones that work well for you. You don’t need to be on them all!
Make Your Website for People
Your website needs to speak to people. Worry a little less about sounding overly professional or just stuffing your website with keywords for SEO (what an old concept!) and consider how you would explain something, simply, to someone else in person.
Plus, people are becoming mobile and your site needs to move with them. Mobile sites are no longer just a “nice to have.” If someone lands on your website on their phone and find themselves having to squeeze and pinch the screen just to get to clickable menu options, they’ll probably just hit the back button and move on. Be sure your site is responsive to different devices and screen sizes.
Ask For Action from Your Visitors
Finally, ask for action from visitors to your site! A lot of people’s top worry is to get traffic to their site. However, getting people to your site is only half the battle. Your focus should be about getting the right kind of traffic as well as increasing the conversion rate of your site. How? Use calls-to-action. Calls-to-action are how you ask people to take an action on your site such as subscribing to your blog, downloading an offer, or requesting a consultation. This is where you can direct them to a form where they give a piece of information, such as an email address, in return for some valuable, educational content or to set up a meeting or call with you.
BONUS: Don’t skip design! Design is more than just making something pretty. With a goal of conversion in mind, your website can be designed to guide people through your site down a path to conversion. Plus, your website is a place for you to convey the personality and values of your company. Does the design send the message you want?
Do you need to update your professional services website? Ready to go mobile? Let the professionals at Duo Consulting create something truly useful for your business with specific, measurable results.