From the first time a prospect visits a website, the service-based small business has a limited window of time to make the right first impression. To do this, the website needs to build immediate trust, demonstrate expertise, and address the question of “Why us?” This second post in this series on inbound lead generation for service-based small businesses is centered on content improvements that can be made on the website to motivate visitors to take the next step towards contacting the business.

Using Website Content to Gain Trust from Prospective Customers

New prospects who are evaluating you as a service provider are looking for validation. There are specific content additions that you can add to a website to facilitate trust-building. Below are some examples:

  • Case Studies: Case studies perform an important function of illustrating in tangible terms a) needs of the customer, b) why a client chose your business, c) services you rendered, d) results you delivered, and e) endorsement from the customer.
  • Credentials: In skilled professions, consumers expect to see professional credentials for service providers. This point is particularly true for solo businesses in areas such as law, medicine, and financial services.
  • Quality Content: Content drives credibility and authority. Clients want to know you are an expert in your domain. Consider publishing expert content that educates customers on the key considerations in making a purchase decision. Examples of content that demonstrates expertise are buying guides, checklists, and whitepapers.
  • Third-Party Validation: Third-party validation can come with an “As Featured In” section, accreditations, and awards. If you belong to such organizations, consider adding trustmarks such as the Better Business Bureau or Stella Service.
  • Reviews: Reviews matter. As a service business you need to have a keen eye towards the reviews being written about you and your business. While lots of service businesses lament reviews, showing direct links to sites such as Yelp demonstrates that you have nothing to hide from the level of service you provide. According to Constant Contact,90 percent of consumers report that online reviews impact buying decisions. As cumbersome as it may be for small companies, reputation management needs to be an area of attention.
  • Testimonials: Positive testimonials, with attribution by name, from a couple of your best customers can provide powerful validation. It says a lot that someone else is willing to put their words and reputation behind another business.
  • Purchase Guarantees: If your service business offers a purchase or quality guarantee, make sure to make it known on your website. It could be the deciding factor in convincing a potential customer who is on the fence, and it’s a powerful statement to say that the customer’s satisfaction matters.

Writing an Authoritative Blog

Consider writing a regularly updated professional blog on your website. Blogging can seem like a chore, but there is a direct connection between blogging and generating leads. InHubspot’s 2013 “State of Inbound Marketing” report, 57 percent of marketers that blogged monthly acquired customers using their blogs. However, the benefit is not the direct ROI generated from blogging (as the direct ROI from blogging alone is unlikely to be positive). The true benefits of a business blog are the opportunities to add regular, current content to your website, the ability to demonstrate your expertise, and the outlet to speak directly to your customers and customer prospects.

Effectively Segmenting Potential Customers from Your Website

The goal of your website is not to position your company as the solution to every potential customer. The goal should be to sell yourself to your target customer, and then to filter out customers who don’t meet your profile. While this may be counterintuitive, think about it from the converse position. You make yourself more appealing to the potential customers that matter for your professional service company. When you can address specific customer segments looking for specific solutions, you are more apt to be able to demonstrate that “I feel your pain,” and even more important, “I know how to solve it.” The more you are able to pinpoint that pain, the more likely you can speak directly to it. Below are some simple ways that you can segment your website visitors before they become inbound leads:

  • Geography: If you have a physical location with geographic boundaries to those you can serve, make this clear on your website. A lead from a non-served geography does not serve you, plus it results in a poor user experience for the consumer. If you are a local business, it’s best to weed these leads out before they become unserviceable leads. (If you have a lot of traffic and inquiries from non-served geographies, there could be opportunities to monetize out-of-market leads, or enter into barter arrangements to trade with other providers when they have out-of-market leads.)
  • Customer Profile: As much as “Know your customer” is true in operating a business, making sure the customer knows their vendor is as important to make sure your website is delivering you with the right leads. If you service commercial customers, receiving support requests from individuals would only be a nuisance.
  • Service Offering: Make it clear which services you specialize in, and make sure they are featured prominently on your website. There is also an SEO benefit from doing so, as the more specific you are, the more likely you’ll rank for the keywords or key phrases that best describe you. In your contact forms, consider having your prospects select which service or services they are considering. This can be done through simple checkbox fields labeled “I am interested in the following service(s).”
  • Purchase Intent: Some of the lead magnets described in the earlier post can help you to segment users based on where they are in your buying process. For example, signing up to a newsletter or downloading a pricing sheet might signal that the prospect is still early, but requesting an estimate or scheduling an appointment signals that the prospect is ready to engage.

Read more: Create Compelling Website Content That Drives More Leads

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