Websites are high-functioning, integrated marketing tools that should be working for you 24/7. I believe all the marketing you do for your club or studio, whether in print or digital, should begin and end with your website. The main objectives of your site are to capture prospect contact information and drive traffic to your physical location. Achieving maximum lead generation requires that specific elements be in place to inform, inspire, capture contact data and compel prospects to want know more.
What has your site done for your business lately? Have you captured information from your visitors? Are your blogs, schedules and videos being shared on social media? Is your site easily viewed on mobile devices? Can you readily and easily make content changes to keep your site fresh and current? Is your hosting service reliable?
I met with our web design team to get useful answers to these vital questions. Lori Vilneff, Lead Web Designer and Tracey Bourdon, Marketing Manager for Susan K. Bailey Marketing and Design gave me the following information based on their experience and knowledge of best practices.
We’ll tackle each of the above six questions, one at a time.
1. What has your site done for your business lately?
Both Lori and Tracey are in full agreement. Your home page is your chance to make a great first impression. Statistically speaking, it is the most viewed page of your website. A few musts:
- It must have Forms. Visitors will provide their contact information to receive more information from you –make it easy for them to do so. Remember, this is one of your site’s primary objectives!
- It must be Engaging. Ask questions and present special offers so prospects are compelled to learn more and in order to do so, they will call, visit or complete that contact info form right in front of them!
- It must be Informative. Remember playing Show & Tell in grade school? Feature videos on your home page showcasing member testimonials, snippets of group training sessions and social events. Entice visitors by showing them just some of the great things going on in your club.
- It must have Social Media icons. The easier you make it for visitors to share your posts and schedules, the more likely they are to do so! Prominently feature icons for the social media outlets you use the most.
- It must have Contact Information. There is nothing more frustrating than combing through web pages trying to find a phone number or e-mail address! This information should be prominently placed on every page.
- It must be Mobile Friendly. Current use of smartphones to search for information is anticipated to overtake traditional desktop information searches this year. This is a simple conversion if your site isn’t already mobile friendly.
2. Have you captured contact information from your visitors?
In addition to the more traditional forms to sign up for e-mails and e-news blasts, use landing pages to stop visitors in their tracks. They need to interact with your landing page to move forward in your site. Have a compelling trial offer or some other opportunity for them to take advantage of, then and there. Lori created this series (Scribbles) with a matching landing page for one of our clients. It’s a great example of a landing page connected with a trial offer.
The content and creative in this example are fun, informative and compelling. It engages the prospect and makes it easy for them to get started. Your best chance to get them to act is right now while they’re ‘in the moment’!
3. Are your blogs, schedules and videos being shared on social media?
Our data shows that your members make up the majority of visits to your site. Post social media icons prominently toward the top of the page where they can be easily clicked. Because there are so many choices, Lori cautions clubs to limit your choices to only those outlets in which you are active.
4. Is your site easily viewed on mobile devices?
As stated earlier in this article, mobile devices will soon be the primary way to search for information about a business. Tracey says clubs should pick their top 5 pages for mobile device viewing. Because these pages come from your ‘desktop’ site, she suggests you speak with your web designer about choosing a balance of text, images and video for effective use on both the desktop and mobile versions of your site.
Keep in mind that members and prospects are on the go and want to know: where you’re located, when you’re open, what classes you have and when they’re offered. They may want to see additional amenities and services offered, such as childcare and massage. Add the click and dial feature so they can easily reach your club to get more information.
5. Can you readily and easily make content changes to keep your site fresh and current?
This is one of the bigger issues clubs have with their websites. (Seemingly, fitness professionals and technologically savvy individuals don’t often share the same body!) As you can imagine, a website is a significant undertaking and being able to easily manage and maintain it is an element you must consider. Identifying two or three key members of your staff to be responsible for maintaining various pages can be a huge help, according to Lori.
We all know how fast paced our world is. Fresh content on your site is mandatory. If visitors see the same thing a couple of times, they probably won’t visit again. If members don’t have fresh blogs and videos to share, that aspect of your site will come to a halt, as well. Don’t commit to more than you can manage.
6. Is your hosting service reliable?
Don’t overlook the importance of working with a reputable hosting service. I had a club recently lose access to their website and e-mail capability in the middle of a campaign. All their marketing vehicles drove prospects to a website that in the blink of an eye didn’t exist, simply because the hosting company folded up and disappeared in the middle of the night! Don’t let this happen to you.
Our web team came up with a few tips to help you find the right fit for your club:
- Look for different hosting levels on the monthly plans available. The amount of hosting space and e-mail service offered should be inline with your current needs, but you want to know that as your business grows, you can easily increase these services by upgrading to the next plan level.
- Technical support. Ideally, work with an organization that has some form of 24hour support for technical issues you will undoubtedly encounter from time to time.
- Reliable uptime. Meaning, the hosting company should be able to say that your site and e-mail service will be running at full capacity almost 100% of the time.
- Secure server. You don’t need or want to stress over security issues, you just want to know that your hosting company takes care of that by meeting all current requirements.
- Ample web hosting space for a growing business. Look for at least 2.5GB of host space. As you add content and video in particular, you want to be confident you won’t run into issues with insufficient hosting space.
Additional considerations worth mentioning:
- Create a Youtube account for your videos and embed them on your site so you don’t use up precious web hosting space.
- Review your Google Analytics report twice a month. Look at the number of visits and structure e-blasts and other marketing vehicles to drive up these visits. Test the success of an e-blast campaign by looking to see if site visits increased within a day or two after.
- If you’re using back links from other sites to help improve your SEO rankings, make sure you’re connected to valid, reputable sites.
- Buy your domain name and schedule the renewal in advance of its expiration. Losing your domain name will essentially fold up your website!
- Don’t take pages that have been up and running for years and move them. This act will negatively impact your search rankings and there are effective ways to work around this.
- Hire professionals to develop your site. Your focus is running a club or studio, let the folks that know what they’re doing create a site that has clear messaging and can direct content for you.
- The intention of this article is to give you the basic information you need to make informed decisions about the viability of your current website.
- Feel free to reach out with questions.