In 2019, a website is as necessary for doing business as a phone number. And no, just focusing on Google listings and a Facebook page is not enough.
“The more places that your brand is found by internet search, the better,” said Jenifer McCauley, marketing director for McCauley Services. “The more places different demographics can find you in their preferred or trusted medium, the better. Social media is another communication tool that can complement or marry with your website’s relevance for multiple generations of consumers.”
Nicole Kirwan Keefe, vice president of strategic growth for Clark Pest Control, agreed. “A clean, easy to use, quick to load, mobile-friendly website is crucial for the strategic growth and development of your pest control company. The company website is often the touchpoint you have to instill trust, convey your value proposition, share your stellar reviews and convert your prospective customers into paying customers.”
First things first
Ignoring or skimping on a website is not an option, especially if you want to grow your business. But the website itself should align with your business goals, McCauley said. “Your website should serve your company’s vision and strategic plan. Whether your goal is a specific type of growth, employee recruitment, or customer retention…your site needs to be a reflection of those goals for your brand.”
Fred Speer, digital community manager for Clark Pest Control, also recommends starting any website design or redesign with a goal in mind: What information do you want to share? “Are you looking to list your services, information about your brand and how to contact you? Or looking to schedule an estimate or set up a service date?”
Once those are settled, develop a minimum of five pages of “good, informative content. This means an entrance page, about your company, services and/or products, site map and contact page,” he said.
If budgets are tight, consider using a content management system like WordPress, Wix or Weebly, which offer plenty of easy-to-customize templates, allowing a website to be built with little technical skill. If you must do it yourself, just make sure “you keep your design clean and your content local and relevant,” McCauley said.
These DIY websites are not perfect, however. “The major drawbacks are security breaches and less flexibility in the overall look and feel,” Speer said.
Hiring a developer can be more costly, and updates, “regardless how minor they may seem, will require a certain level of coding experience and expertise,” he said.
For most small- to medium-sized companies, a complete website design or redesign may be outsourced. McCauley recommends working with an agency that will redesign the website as part of an ongoing agreement. That will eliminate a significant upfront fee.
One thing that is not optional: the web design must be “responsive,” meaning that it displays appropriately no matter how the customer approaches it, from mobile device to desktop.
In 2017, accessing the internet via a mobile device accounted for two-thirds of all searches, according to search engine optimization company Stone Digital. Ensuring that a website displays well on mobile devices is now a must.
Helping your customers successfully get around the website is a great place to start, as it will inform the overall design. The goal, then, is to make the website navigation as “user-friendly and transparent as you can get it so the content is easy to find,” McCauley said. “An easy tip is using a three-click rule. Can they find what they’re looking for in three clicks?”
Customers who can’t easily find what they need are likely to leave—and that could hamper your image. “You seem less credible if your site doesn’t reflect who you are and how you operate,” McCauley said.
But there is too much of a good thing, and it can be “a little overwhelming if you try to cram too many things in,” McCauley said.
Content is king
A website that features nothing more than a photo and phone number is an obvious fail. But the wrong content can be equally as challenging, especially when the focus is on “things that we think are important, but aren’t answering the consumer’s questions,” McCauley said.
What is important is issuing a clear call to action. Speer said that each website page should be clear “about what you want your visitor to do next, whether that is requesting a quote or setting up an appointment.”
Remember why customers come to your website in the first place: “Most customers arrive at your website to educate themselves and assure their choice before calling, texting, chatting or emailing you to convert into your customer,” Kirwan Keefe said. “Ensuring that your company offerings and voice are clearly outlined and efficiently shared alongside clean calls to action is imperative for growth.”
The ease of finding the information assumes that it is there—and that is equally important, McCauley said. “Being transparent about your services and pricing and ultimately providing answers to consumers’ questions in a short amount of time will build trust and put you at an advantage.”
Video is a great tool to help explain services as well. Make sure customers know how to find your social media pages from your website.
And don’t fail to showcase the ways that you are working in the community, McCauley said. “A lot of companies are doing really cool things to give back, but don’t do a great job of sharing that part of their story. Use your local content to really show that we have a passion for pest control and for our community.”
Refresh, redo, repeat
Get to this point and think you can check the website off the to-do list? Hardly. A best practice is to update the website completely every few years and to make minor tweaks on a regular basis.
A redesign allows you to “keep up with the ever-changing look and feel,” Speer said. Explore trends in design and layouts. For 2019, web designers recommend brighter colors and innovative scrolling ideas, for instance.
But don’t just focus on the look. Speer recommends considering how the website delivers, specifically with traffic and conversions. “If conversions are low, you may want to look at how easily your site is to navigate and how prominent your calls to action are,” he said.
He points to a free tool, Google Trends, as providing important insight. “Since we are familiar with pest seasons, we should all have a good idea what pests should be showing up in search and talked about on social media,” he said. “Google Trends takes this a step further, allowing you to search and receive key information if that pest is trending or not, related trends and geo-targeted trends which will help in social media and blog posts.”
McCauley recommends, at least quarterly, auditing and updating the site to “make sure the content is fresh and relevant with the season you’re in.” It’s also a good time to check links to make sure they are still working.
During a site audit, look for ways to showcase your featured or seasonal services, and forecast what customers will be needing to know. “I know that mosquitoes are a pest that my community will be concerned about by May,” McCauley said. “By March, I need to have as much relevant content as I can about mosquitoes and the services we want to feature.”
Ready for the next level?
Speer suggests looking into license- or subscription-based tools that make the website part of your customer service team. “The use of these tools such as scheduling an appointment are a must-have addition,” he said. “Sure, you can use either a phone number or email address but many visitors like the ability to book appoints via booking forms. Web chat features are great additions as well.”
Don’t look at a website as one more thing to be done. Look at it for what it is: your most powerful, ongoing marketing effort. And in some cases, it might be an extension of your customer information and services team, too.
By Sandy Smith
ART: ANDRY SUSLOV/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM