Warning, spending your time and your hard-earned cash on a brand new website, or even a website refresh or website update may be exactly where you need to be spending said time and money, or it may not be. After all, time sure is money when you’re a creator or a creative entrepreneur and small business owner. Sometimes a DIY fresh coat of paint will do the trick but sometimes you need to go all HGTV on your website or “Trading Spaces”.
Does anyone remember that show???? So good.
Anyway, you need to pull your website down to the studs and start all over again. In doing that, you’d be consulting an expert or two along the way. But how do you know if you actually need a website refresh or update? Or whatever other sales problems that you’re seeing are happening somewhere else in your marketing plan?
Well, today I’m walking you through 5 audit step checkpoints that you can go through to determine if you even need this website update or website refresh.
Here’s the good news: there are some gut-level questions that you can ask yourself here in these next 10 minutes that will help you determine if your website is the culprit—or maybe not—and what to do to fix it.
I’m going to give you specific actionable audit steps that you can take for each of the five checkpoints I have. I’m also going to get a little math nerdy and tell you exactly how to find your conversion rate. So if you’ve thought that is mystical or hard to figure out before, hopefully, you won’t after today.
This is part two of a little three-part series that I’m doing on your website and your website copy. So if you haven’t yet, be sure to open up in another tab to watch last week’s video on my YouTube channel—I walk through the seven phases or parts of gathering and making sure that you have your website content and copy together so you can execute your website update. You can watch that here.
Next week’s video is going to be all about what I have learned from my *very* FIRST custom website. I’ve been in business for five years, built a seven-figure business but I’ve never invested in a custom website till now—so I’m going to tell you kind of what I’ve learned along the way. To make sure you don’t miss that one, hit the subscribe button on my YouTube channel here.
P.S.—make sure to read until the end, I’m going to tell you three things that I’ve learned from being around people that are more visually driven when it comes to websites. Graphic designers, art directors, photographers—I’m going to share those with you too.
Okay, let’s get right to it.
No. 1| You may need a website update if you haven’t listed your prices clearly.
You may need a website update if you haven’t listed (or argued for) your prices clearly.
Oh, I know I’m going right for the jugular with number one but picture this for me.
You’re out to dinner at a nice-ish restaurant with some new-ish friends and you all sit down together and by the way, you’ve only got cash in your wallet. Nearly every single thing on the menu looks really good and it’s got the price listed to it. It’s perfect. You’ve got the cash to cover it. One thing that looks like a whole situation that you would be into says available at the market price— there’s no price point listed. Again, this is not your family or your BFFs, and you only have cash. What are the odds that you stick your neck out there and ask for that or ask what the price point is in front of everybody? Here’s the thing, a lot of us are probably just going to play it safe and go with what we know that we could afford.
I bring up that little illustration because I’ve worked with thousands of students and hundreds of clients at this point—I don’t care what industry you’re in—people want to know or have some sort of framework or understanding for where you might fall in the pricing spectrum before they reach out to you. I mean, maybe there’s exceptions, but they’re very rare.
I have heard the excuses before. I have felt the excuses, hands up, before. Maybe you only do custom work and custom quotes—been there. Maybe you just feel like your prices are too high and they are going to scare people off—I’ve felt that.
Maybe you feel like I don’t know how to convey the value of what I do and to put my price point out there, just, it seems like no one would inquire if I stuck it out there. You may be the type that thinks, if I can just get them to the call, then I can show them my beautiful pricing and services magazine and they’ll want to work with me then.
Or maybe this is you—you worry that your competition is then going to see what you price at and beat you on price.
Do any of those resonate?? I have absolutely felt this before.
Website Audit Checkpoint #1
For your audit checkpoint question number one, I want you to pause and answer this for me :
>>If your dream client or customer was scrolling through your website right now today, what three questions would they have about your pricing or your pricing structure? Would you be able to find the answers to them on your website without reaching out, emailing you, filling out your contact form, getting on a call, whatever? Are they answered on page? <<
There are so many different messaging work throughs you can go through to price anchor and communicate a price without coming out and saying something that you’re not comfortable with. One idea is that you can give us starting at price point or a percentage of budget.
So for example, if you’re a calligrapher or stationer, you could say something like, “Most of our clients tend to spend eight to 15% “of their entire wedding budget on stationary and paper.” That at least helps her understand, “Is this even in the realm of my budget or not.” You can provide common ranges and you can also list maybe what would affect that going up or down as well. And you can showcase the different factors that will influence your pricing.
My system for writing sales pages or services pages is the Sweet 16 System, I have this template in my shop, but essentially it walks through in one section, what I call the Starbucks Test. Because I feel like we’ve all bought something and to anchor it, we hear something like, “You could buy four coffees a month “or you could skip that and get this.”
That’s price anchoring.
It helps take something that’s a little esoteric and pull it down into layman’s terms for us and how we’d spend on a daily or week to week basis. You need to be able on your pricing pages and your website, services, sales pages, however you’re categorizing it to communicate that to your dream client or customer. That way they can self-select. Either they can afford it or even after seeing the explanation, they can mosey on their way if it’s not a fit for them.
No.2| You may need a website update if your website is more focused on YOU.
You’ve heard the rumors. It’s true. When people are on your website, they’re not looking for you—they don’t care about you as much as they are looking out for number one. And they’re looking at your website to have a mirror held back so they can see themselves.
So a ninja trick on figuring out this,—I want you to go to a page of your website and hit Ctrl F. Run a search for words like I, me, we and us, and then run another search for the word you. Who wins the word count situation there? Like I said, they’re looking for that mirror back to them, even on your about page.
I’m going to get a little granular here but I’ve talked about this with sooo many different clients and customers over the years. And I know what it’s like to feel like, “Well, I can’t use you language “’cause it feels like I’m trying to solve a problem “for them. “And what I do doesn’t solve a problem. “I offer a luxury or I offer something that is beautiful “and it’s artistry based. “And so I can’t bring up all this you, you, you language, “because then I sound like, “I don’t know the dad in the “Matilda” movie “where it’s just so sleazy in car sales-manny, “and I don’t want to be like that Ashlyn. “So that’s what I’m talking about myself.” I get that and I hear you on that.
BUT I want you to keep this in mind.
When people are out there shopping, they’re looking to purchase a better version of themselves no matter what they’re buying. People want to feel like they’ve made a wise smart shopping decision or money decision. They want to make their friends and family proud or even impressed. Ego absolutely plays into our shopping and our money decisions.
Maybe they want to feel nostalgic or at peace or rested or some emotion they’re looking for. Maybe, this goes for you if you’re B2B, they want to be looked at as one smart cookie or the hero to their team, their colleagues, or their boss. And yes, the problem, one you hear all the time, they want to solve the things that keep them up at night.
I run through this because as you talk about yourself and use your language on your website, I want you to speak to that desire they have. If you’ve always framed things, as you’re trying to sell to the problem and you’re trying to solve their problem, maybe it’s the desire that you actually need to speak to and you still need to make it about them and their desire.
Another way that you can mirror back to your clients and customers is to get absolutely obsessive about collecting testimonials and social proof. But pro tip, be on the lookout and keep your nose to the ground, ear to the ground, what, it’s ear to the ground about making sure that when you’re pooling it, people are either telling you, you’re asking them, or you’re just highlighting the ones that showcase the people that had an objection first to purchasing from you or working from you, but they bought anyway, and you overcame that with your product or service. There’s also going to be absolute gold when you’re installing them on your website because that is a brilliant way that you can mirror back to people without you talking. You can let somebody else do the talking for you.
Website Audit Checkpoint #2
Here’s a little hack if you’re bad at collecting testimonials or social proof. Definitely get into the habit of screenshotting if someone shares about your brand. One thing I do is on Thursdays, I have a checklist point on my daily tasks for every single Thursday, where I make sure that I’m taking those and I’m filing them in the appropriate folder. Or I’m baking them into whatever page on our website or landing pages/sales pages so I can speak against objections.
Make this a recurring task for you—screenshot like crazy. Screenshot things when clients and customers send them to you. I’ve done some videos in the past. I’ll link them about testimonials. All I want you to do here is start to get in the habit of collecting them like crazy.
No. 3| You’re not clear on your business strategy or offer ladder.
You may need a website update if you’re not clear on your business strategy or offer ladder.
So the other week I was on a dream potential client call but it took about 30 whole minutes for me to understand their offer ladder and their dream progression of a customer journey that they wanted their customers to take. Even understanding the basic value prop of each offer that they had because they had a few, it took like 30 minutes for us to figure out and for me to understand. A lot of times when we feel flustered about what our offer ladder is or what the value prop of our individual offers are, it can feel like the best solution is just, “Let’s get a new website. “One that is more articulate towards our dream customer “or client, or has better design or whatever.”
The problem though is that puts the cart before the horse. And yeah, maybe you do need a website refresh or revamp down the road, but your problem is deeper than that. Before you work on any of that, you’ve got to get hype clear on your offer ladder and what the UVP or USP of each of your offers, products or services is.
What I so admired about this client is they were like, “You know what? “Let’s listen to the research. “Let’s dig into what are people even want from us. “And then we’ll start to flesh out “what this offer ladder is, how we want to move people along “and then how we can communicate and package that, “I’ve called it your onlyness factor, “your UVP or your USP is “for each of those offers.” Ding, ding, ding! Soooo smart.
So they’re using data to inform their structure and their content on their website. That’s what you have got to be doing too. If you don’t have an offer strategy behind your whole website and clear positioning for each of your offers, then no, I can pretty much guarantee you that the individual landing pages of your website are nowhere near converting like they should be.
Website Audit Checkpoint #3
Pretend we’re talking right now and tell me off the top of your head in a nut shell, what the pitch is for your signature product, your offer?
For example, Copywriting for Creatives is the first and only solution for you to master your message, write your site and launch it to sell in 30, 60 or 90 days. And what you’d be able to do that and be so clear about your different offers and understand where they fall in a customer client journey. Then the website structure and site map can be formulated around that. If someone is trying to wheel and deal and sell you on website design, without making sure you understand that and you can communicate to them, run for the hills.
Build the business first, understand that and then start to invest.
Again, I’m going to talk about some solutions to that in next week’s videos so don’t forget to subscribe here if you have not yet.
No. 4| You may need a website update or refresh if you have a traffic issue.
You may need a website update or refresh if you have a traffic issue. your content isn’t exactly the milkshake marketing strategy, bringing all the customers and clients to the yard—AKA this is a traffic issue.
I told my email list in my weekly dog ear email the other week that launching is essentially a numbers game. It’s a math game and websites are very similar.
For example, I’ve seen people launch a website before and hear crickets on the back end of it and wonder why that happened but they didn’t give people a reason to go check out that new website or see what’s there. Or they had their one big launch and then the traffic peters off after that.
I bring this one up because it may be time to get a little more advanced with your content strategy to keep regular traffic coming there so the conversion rate can do its thing.
Some ideas here:
- You could add a video or an audio component to your content strategy.
- You could absolutely increase and dial up your SEO juice. I did that three-part video series on SEO and how you can increase that—you can watch that here.—that could be an option.
- You could also commit to weekly or two times a week or every other week, whatever your plan, emails that go out to your list to keep pulling people back to your website as well. I did a whole series earlier this year on email marketing, make sure to watch that here.
Again, so much of your website’s conversion rate is based on a traffic strategy and how much traffic is actually landing on that website so it can work. If you’re just out there kind of willy nilly, spray and pray social media plan without driving them back to this foundation, this website that you know converts like a machine, why are you spending so much time on social media? ‘Cause it needs to be pushing them to a place where they see your offer. They can very quickly decide whether to work with you or not, understand how to do that, pay for it, move on.
Website Audit Checkpoint #4
I want you to check your conversion rate.
We’re going to do some math. In last week’s video on my YouTube channel, I gave some specific points for your industry that may be a good conversion rate for you to consider. Don’t freak out about data. It is absolutely your friend when it comes to website design, content, copy and strategy. Essentially conversion rate is the number of conversions there divided by the number of visitors in a given time period. Then you’ll take that, multiply it by a hundred.
So if you had 6,000 unique views to your pre-designed logo shop or watercolor item shop in a year, and 40 sales (e.g. bought something), your conversion rate would be:
40/ 6000 * 100 = 0.7%
Also pro-tip, I go to geteasysolution.com or I just Google X is what percent of X like, and plug in my numbers. That’s a great way to find the conversion rate as well.
Comment below if that helps you demystify what a conversion rate is. I certainly hope it does.
No. 5| You may need a website update if the aesthetics are off.
So if you’ve gone the first four that I’ve walked through earlier and you’ve green light passed them. You my friend are finally allowed to wave the cosmetic flag and tell me that it’s the aesthetics that you don’t like on your website, and that’s why you need to change it.
Why is this the last piece?
We’ll as we say down here in the South, you can’t put lipstick on a pig. And I promise you all four of those steps that I mentioned earlier are wayyy more important than the aesthetics of your brand and the actual visual branding of it. You do need to look and walk and talk the part of seeming like the brand that you’re claiming to be, and that you’re proposing to be with your business.
I’ve talked to so many followers and students and clients that have spent a chunk of change, like truly an arm and a leg on the aesthetics of a website without those other four components we talked through—annnd it’s not working. I don’t want that to happen to you.
So don’t reach for the fact that your website doesn’t look the part first when you’re trying to assess why you might need a website refresh or things just aren’t working. It may be one of those other things I talked about. OR it may be the aesthetics— but it could be a combo.
<< I told you at top of this post I was going to tell you three things that I have learned over time, being a copywriter and a words girl, but working with people that are way more aesthetically in the know than me. Here they are >>
#1 : Your imagery should be reflective of the copy you’re working through.
You may have heard me say this story before but I was working with my very first art director on my very first brand shoot. And she was going through my website and she said, “Ashlyn, some of these images are great, “but they have nothing to do with the copy that they’re next to.” Duh! I totally needed to hear that. Your imagery should be reflective of the copy that you’re working through. So even on a long-form sales page, if you’ve got some sort of copy then make sure that you’re reflecting that in the image back. She was absolutely right. So this goes for your entire website and even on your landing pages too. Stock imagery is a good thing, but be aware that you’re trying to message match along the way. And if you’re talking about something in your copy, how can that be absolutely accurately reflected in the image next to it?
# 2 Fewer but BETTER images.
I think early on in my career, I just stopped and stuffed my website with all the images that I could find for my portfolio and so on and so forth. But over time I learned to trim that down and give fewer better images.
Here’s another little tip—I think I’ve said this to Copywriting for Creative students all the time—but be really careful with carousels and when you’re installing carousels on your website. We had a client one time and we were testing. About 10% of the traffic that landed on a certain page clicked through to the next image on a carousel. And then 10% of that traffic click through to the next image. I’ll boil this down by saying that carousels, especially the ones you have to click through, just don’t usually work when it comes to showcasing your work. So have them on auto scroll and only have, like I said, as few images as possible or nix the carousel completely and figure out how to showcase your portfolio work elsewhere.
#3 Stage and develop multiple iterations of the same styled look.
I’ve learned as I’ve worked with graphic designers, website designers and brand photographers— you absolutely need to stage and develop multiple iterations of the same styled look. So if we’re shooting this scene, I’m going to want horizontal, I’m going to want horizontal with a lot of white space to be available, and I’ll get some long shots of it. Nothing is worse than being to the point where you’re installing on your website and you think this image is so great but it’s not going to work because all we have is vertical versions of it and we need a horizontal. And if we crop it, it loses the whole integrity of the image.
Take it from me—always make sure you have a photographer shoot lots of different iterations of those style looks you have. All this goes to say, if you fail to outline why you do what you do the way you do it differently or better than your competition in your website messaging, then it doesn’t really matter how pretty your website is. So I just want to make you aware of that but the design does matter.
I have a video here where I walk through my best strategies for picking a website template. Again, I’ve said it. You can make a lot of money and have a really great website that’s built off a template. I just don’t want you to start with the visual brand.
Okay, now you’ve heard these five questions to ask to see if you need a website refresh or update. You can honestly rate yourself on where you fall. You may know, yep, 100% I need a website refresh or revamp, or you may think, “Nope, I’ve got what it takes. I’m good to go. I’m going to mosey on my way.”
If you’re in that former camp though, I’ve got two tools that may help you out today AND they’re both free. 🙂
- The first one is my Google docs website copy templates starter. This is going to help you begin with the end in mind for some of the keystone pages of your website.
- I also have a full list of 44 questions that your website must answer, if you enjoyed going through these five checkpoints and you want a few more to make sure that you’re moving in the right direction, then look down below and make sure you grab that one as well.
Now that you’ve determined if you need a website refresh or not, we’ll have that in the seven steps you need to go through to do that teed up in this video for you here. Make sure as always you ask your questions below, love answering those for y’all. Here’s to working from a place of more rest, less hustle.
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