As a Generation X kid, I remember my first pair of Bugle Boy jeans. The zipper pockets and elastic around the ankles made me pretty fly for a 1988 guy. Fast forward just a couple years, and I wouldn’t have been caught dead in those pants.
Imagine my surprise as I see some of my daughter’s male friends now walking around with similar new adaptations of this 80s fashion trend. What are next? Zoot suits? Jelly shoes?
I’m sure you have a similar story in mind. Trends come and go and resurface again, particularly when it comes to clothing. But when it comes to marketing a business in the lawn and landscape industry, that resurfacing rarely occurs. Trends die and become obsolete. This particularly holds true when it comes to websites.
Why websites must change
As a business owner, change is all around you. Product and equipment technologies, employment laws, tax regulations and countless other shifts have you and your team scrambling to stay current. The website seems just like one more item that eventually demands your attention. And after a quick glance, it can’t be that bad, right?
You think back when the company website was last touched and wonder if it’s time for a change. And, deep down, you’re concerned that when some people find your website, it isn’t exactly representing your brand as one that is progressively relevant to them. Plus, will your website make people want to do business with you above your many competitors?
The ever-flowing tide of web design trends goes well beyond visual taste. Smart devices are constantly changing along with consumer browsing and buying behavior. On top of that, online security continues to grow in importance. Change is imminent and must be dealt with in a timely fashion.
8 signs that it’s time
As a rule, if your website hasn’t been redesigned in four to five years, it’s definitely time. And as technology progresses, this window may get smaller and smaller.
Here are some of the telltale signs that these lawn care or landscaping websites needed not only a fresh, new look but that they weren’t accomplishing their intended purpose — generating leads that turn into sales.
1. Poor brand positioning. Let’s be honest: Almost everyone reading this article has their company positioned pretty much the same way. Change the company name, colors and logo and many green industry websites could be easily mistaken for one another.
“We are dedicated to quality.” “We do these services.” “Here are the awards we’ve won.” These are just some examples. While those items should be reflected somewhere in your marketing, they aren’t unique. Plus, they’re company-focused, not about your customer.
If you haven’t taken the time to define specifically what makes you different than your competitors and your website isn’t clearly communicating that in a concise way, it’s time for some major changes before you begin to implement a new web design.
2. Not having a responsive design. About 40 to 60 percent of your website’s traffic comes from a mobile device. Smartphones comprise most of this segment, with tablets filling in another portion. If you open your website on those devices and it isn’t easily viewed, not only will it hurt your placement in internet search results, but it will make for a bad user experience and prospective customers will go elsewhere.
3. Unsecured connections. Search engines have begun to crack down on unsecured websites and filter them behind safe sites in results. Go to your website in a browser and look at the URL shown in the address bar. It should start with “https”, not merely “http.” The “s” indicates a secure connection.
4. Busy, confusing layouts. Simplicity is a mark of genius. Your website should be simple to navigate and there should be obvious paths that website visitors can take. They should also quickly know who you are, what you do and to whom you offer your services. It should be clean, offering just the right amount (not too little or too much) of easily digested content.
This can be hard to see if you’re too close to your company. Find a few savvy, straight-shooting business leaders in other industries. Ask them to share their candid thoughts on what it’s like to use your website.
5. Slow website speed. Websites that take too long to load are not only frustrating for prospective customers, but they get penalized by search engines. To evaluate your website’s speed, check out HubSpot’s website grader.
6. Poor search ranking. Your website should be ranking for dozens of local keyword phrases. These not only include the obvious terms like “landscaping [city name]”, but also should include many relevant longtail keyword terms like “how much does a patio cost in [city name].”
7. Inadequate content. Your website should leverage several types of content to compel a visitor to become a customer. It’s important that you use professional images and video, as well as informative, helpful written content throughout your website.
This content should be easy to find and should meet people in all stages of their buyer’s journey. From when they become aware of their need, to when they consider solutions and eventually decide which company to use, your website should be a valuable resource, not just a braggy, self-serving online brochure packed full of poor-quality images or stock images.
8. No clear conversion path. Even if your website has all the right elements above, it needs to call website visitors to action. What are they supposed to do? Is it obvious or are they left to hunt around through extensive navigation menus? What if they aren’t ready to contact you just yet? Is there something of value to them as they research your company as a service provider?
Is now the time?
Regardless of your intention or attitude on this matter, your company’s website will leave an impression. The question is: What will that impression be?
When someone visits your website, will your company appear outdated or progressive? Will your brand be braggy or helpful? Will this first interaction a prospect has with your organization be filled with confusion or confidence?
Even if they aren’t immersed in the world of modern website design, prospects see and feel the trends of today’s world. And if your company puts your website on the back burner, trying to get a few more years out of it, your prospects will quickly realize that something isn’t right and look elsewhere.
Open that metaphorical marketing closet and look at your website in front of a mirror. It may be embarrassing and tough. It’s going to take some work on your part, but facing the challenge head-on will show your prospective clients that using your company never goes out of style.