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Have you gone to a website with a specific purpose in mind…to buy something or learn more about a company’s services? But, instead of completing your task, you abandoned the site to move on to a competitor?

Why did you leave the website? Was it because you developed a lack of trust of the company from viewing the site? Visitors often decide to trust or not to trust a company within just seconds of viewing a few pages of that company’s website.

The way a company presents itself online makes us feel comfortable enough to part with personal information to download a white page or newsletter, or to order a product. If we don’t feel comfortable, we move on to competitor websites.

Does your website push prospective clients away?
This lack of trust for a particular company can stem from a company not giving its website sufficient, ongoing attention. A company may spend months creating the site: researching, writing, editing, designing, coding, and optimizing. Then launch day finally comes. Unfortunately, in many cases, the company then often leaves (neglects) the site and it becomes lifeless.

It’s like the Ronco® commercial selling rotisserie ovens. Ronco tells viewers they can “set it and forget it” and their food will be perfectly cooked. That may work well for roasting chicken, but for websites it produces a totally different outcome. If you set and forget your website, your business’ brand image can get roasted to a crisp and leave an unpleasant aftertaste in the mouths of your site’s visitors.

When your site becomes lifeless (potential clients can quickly perceive that it is), you sabotage your chances of attracting and retaining them on the site. So it’s vital to keep your website alive and current.

Whether you’re an owner or employee, you may play a role in developing, launching, and contributing to your company’s website. Here are three strategies you can use to keep your site from becoming lifeless.

First, keep your site updated and consistent. Make a written plan of who will update the site, when updates should take place and how to make updates. When there isn’t a plan in place, the website starts to resemble a yard riddled with unsightly “weeds” that include outdated copy and stale news.

The weeds take root like this: Months after launching the website, a professional services firm finds that it must update its site. Let’s say there’s a new partner. The site’s team page must be updated with the new partner’s headshot and bio. Unfortunately, the intern who was trained in and responsible for making such changes is long gone. Without a written plan, the company scrambles. No one remembers what the usernames and passwords are to access the website files on their server. If they overcome that challenge, then typically someone with no web design or development skills starts poking around files and images the best they can. This scrambling often results in the website being updated in an untimely manner and becoming visually disjointed. Inconsistencies in copy tone and length begin to creep in. A mismatch of font sizes and photos stretched in unflattering ways appear on the same web page. The results are less than optimal—and professional.

Second, develop or redesign your site so visitors can easily view it on various devices, e.g., smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. Many businesses don’t opt for making changes to their current website because they can see it on a smartphone or tablet. The problem is they don’t try to use their nonresponsive website on one of those devices. If they did, they’d find that filling out a contact form (that was designed for viewing on a large monitor and typing at a keyboard) is like trying to put a thread through the eye of a needle on a smartphone or tablet.

Business owners often miscalculate the relatively small investment needed to make the site user-friendly compared to the larger cost of losing potential clients.

The world is increasingly mobile! According to a Cisco report, global mobile data traffic increased 70% in 2012. Businesses need to ensure that they can be found in the ways that potential clients are trying to find them.

Third, develop an area on your site for timely bits of relevant information to the potential clients you wish to attract. For many companies, their services may not change all that often and so the wording on their websites stays the same year after year. Even if the company does a good job of keeping the information accurate, the content on the site has no pulse. When the content has no pulse the website becomes a zombie. Liven up your site!

One way to liven up your site—add a blog. It takes effort to carve out time to research industry topics, write content, and create images to accompany your blog posts. It’s a commitment just like working toward your other strategic business goals. If you don’t set aside time to write down your business objectives and follow through with specific steps, your company won’t grow optimally. Likewise, not setting aside time to show your clients and prospective clients that your firm has an online pulse will yield the same result. Here’s a compelling reason to start a blog: Did you know that inbound marketing, such as using a blog, can deliver 54 percent more leads than traditional outbound leads, such as mailing a brochure? (Source: Hubspot’s 2013 Inbound Marketing Report)

Bottom line: Is your firm an expert on why companies buy your services, but a novice regarding why they don’t buy? A lifeless website may be one reason they don’t. By keeping your website up to date, making it user-friendly and adding a blog, you can avoid eroding your company’s brand trust. Your website is too important; don’t fall into the “launch-leave-lifeless” website.

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