By Amanda Crangle
Colin Powell once said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
The beauty of the world we live in is that we can share experiences and life lessons to minimize our own mistakes by learning from others. We have millions of people to learn from, while we use our businesses as a testbed for what drives results for our unique organizations, markets, and customers.
Few marketing channels are more worthy and overlooked as tools for learning, experimenting, and growing than our websites. Many treat their sites as static online brochures replete with product statistics, boring descriptions, and uninspiring stock photos.
The goal of this article is to help ignite ideas to improve or create your website using lessons learned from over a decade of testing what works in the water treatment industry. In sharing these stories and strategies, it is my deepest desire that we as an industry collectively work to better understand our customers and craft marketing strategies that communicate the importance of quality water and doing business with ethical, service-focused companies.
Whether your site is old and outdated or you’ve just invested in a shiny new online presence, here are a few tried and true strategies you can experiment with to get more leads and sales for your business.
1. Define and Measure Your Goals.
Over the years, it’s become a habit to ask, “what’s the goal?” This habit has served me well, whether it’s during a brief meeting with a team member, developing a new marketing campaign, or helping my kids think through decisions. It helps to clarify the outcome we are seeking and reverse engineer the steps to achieve the desired results.
Your website is no different. Do you know the primary goal of your site? Is it to generate leads for your business, make sales, drive education and readership, or grow your dealer network?
Whatever your primary goal may be, once you’ve pinpointed it, you can ask, “how well does my current site meet this goal?”
If we’re honest, every one of us can say there is room for improvement.
This incredible realization opens tons of opportunity where we can reach in and extract ideas to test to reach our goals.
However, it’s not enough to define your goal clearly; you must set up the processes and systems to accurately measure the outcomes.
For example, if your goal is to get people to contact you from your site through phone calls or form submissions, a few things must be true:
- Your site needs to have analytics tracking. Most sites connect to Google Analytics, a free tool for tracking website visitors and their interactions with your site.
- Webform submissions must be tracked by redirecting people to a “thank you” page. Simply having text show up on the same page as the form does not allow for accurate tracking.
- Phone calls need to be tracked using a call tracking number. There are several companies that offer this service.
- Form submissions and phone calls need to be added as “goals” in Google Analytics so you can measure your site and individual page conversion rates to discover where the most significant opportunities are hidden.
Of course, not every form submission and phone call will be a lead for most water treatment companies. Many current customers use the website to get in touch, so it’s vital to track what happens to form submissions and calls to know your true lead conversion rate and where these leads are coming from
2. Ask Questions, Listen to Visitors, and Act on Their Needs.
Imagine you’re out on a date. The person across the table from you looks attractive, checks all the right boxes on paper, and your expectations are high. As soon as you settle in, the person immediately begins rattling off facts about themselves, why they are a great catch, and all the reasons they are prime marriage material.
Your stomach sinks and your hopes are dashed. You quickly text your friend under the table to call with a sudden “emergency” so you can get the heck out of there.
Now imagine a date when you sit down, and the person across the table leans in with genuine curiosity and begins asking you questions about your life, your desires, where you’ve been, where you want to be, and what drives you. They listen intently and at the end of the night, you feel elated, cared for, heard, and respected.
Customers should be treated the same way, and your website is one of the simplest ways to engage in meaningful conversation.
Sure, you may be selling a water system. However, you are selling fewer tears from a child with eczema, peace of mind from a family living on a farm with high nitrates, or more time with family and less time scrubbing hard water deposits off faucets.
Using online tools, you can ask simple questions through polls. Surveying software will allow you to embed more complex surveys in order to dig deeper into what transformation people are seeking, help engage customers in meaningful conversations, and garner ideas to improve your website.
The outcome is your target audience feeling cared about, heard, and valued. According to Forbes, “customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies who don’t focus on customers.”1 Implementing surveys or questionnaires on your site will help you experience higher engagement and conversion rates and ultimately achieve your goal.
Consider the user’s experience on your site when it comes to:
- Load times: 47% of website users expect a maximum of 2 seconds loading time for an average website.
- Device responsive design: 92.6% of internet users use mobile phones to go online. Be sure your site looks great and is functional on all device types.
- Split-test your ideas: Don’t simply assume what you learn will work. Whenever possible, use split testing to ensure your changes don’t hurt your site’s conversion rate.
3. Whatever the Goal, Make It Simple to Complete.
How often have you visited a website only to click around for a few minutes, get frustrated after not finding what you need, and then left and went to a competitor’s website? This is something we want to work hard to avoid!
Think of your site’s homepage as the front door to a home. When someone steps inside that front door, they need to be able to quickly—within seconds—find the room (product, service, symptom, solution) they are looking for. If they come to the site to find a water softener, ensure that the page is available through a menu dropdown or clearly linked high up on the page.
How do you know what people are trying to find? Use tools like Google Analytics, Google Ads, polls, and surveys to identify the most visited and highest converting pages.
The Pareto Principle (80/20 principle) states that 20% of inputs generate 80% of outputs. Websites are no different, and 20% of the pages on your site are likely generating 80% of the traffic and conversions. Find the 20% of pages and start there to ensure that they are easy to access.
Another vital part of this strategy is ensuring the goal of your site is easy for a visitor to complete. If your goal is to generate leads through form submissions and phone calls, be sure to have a form and a phone number on every single page of your website, so people don’t have to dig to find a way to contact you.
4. Build Trust by Leveraging Social Proof and Third-Party Certifications.
In his book Influence, Robert Cialdini describes the principle of social proof, “People always look to the actions and behaviors of others for hints on how they should act in any setting. If you point out the choice that many others in comparable situations have made, you increase the pressure for them to do the same.”
If you already have recent, quality, relevant reviews, be sure to stream them onto your site on every page using topic-relevant reviews. For example, on a page discussing water softeners, add reviews that are related to those who have purchased a softener from your company and have had a great experience. You can also use tools that populate your site with the most recent reviews, so it’s continuously updated with recent content.
Right at the crucial point of contact, be sure to also include reviews so you can alleviate anxiety when someone is about to submit a form with their personal information to your business.
Lastly, be sure to help bolster your credibility by displaying third-party party certifications on your site. A 2019 NSF survey found that 85% of consumers trust independent, third-party certification organizations to verify product claims.
From local business organizations like your local Chamber of Commerce to organizations like the Water Quality Association, associating yourself with trusted names in business can help people have confidence that you’ll deliver on your promises. Furthermore, be sure to use product and professional certifications wherever applicable and describe what they mean, so people understand why these certifications enhance your company and staff’s value.
These four principles require preparation, work, and ongoing learning. When implemented well, you’ll begin to see the fruit of your efforts and enjoy the momentum of a site that works for you 24/7, 365 days out of the year.
- Morgan, Blake. “How To Prove the ROI Of Customer Experience.” Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2020/09/07/how-to-prove-the-roi-of-customer-experience
- “27 Eye-opening Website Statistics: Is Your Website Costing You Clients?” SWEOR. https://www.sweor.com/firstimpressions
- Naveh, Matan. ”40+ Latest Web Design Statistics for 2022”. Elementor.com. https://elementor.com/blog/web-design-statistics/
- Cialdini, Robert. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. New York, William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1984
- NSF. Five Ways Certifications Connect with Consumers. https://www.nsf.org/knowledge-library/five-ways-certifications-connect-consumers
About the author
Amanda Crangle and the team at Lamplight Digital Media help residential and commercial water treatment companies profitably grow their dealerships using digital marketing. They have worked with over 100 water treatment dealerships spanning North America, managed millions of dollars in ad spend and performed over 1,000 scientific website split tests. Crangle intimately knows the water industry, having worked in a dealership as a sales rep and as a general manager. She and her team are passionate about expanding consumer awareness of water quality issues and providing education on final barrier solutions.