Dealers, integrators and manufacturers approach my business partner and I on a fairly regular basis asking us to give our honest evaluation of their website. More often than not, the evaluation isn’t what they expected. What we’ve learned over our years in marketing in the alarm industry space is that most do not know what makes a great website. They may think theirs is great because it touts their services or they have graphics, but they’ve looked at it so much they’ve become blind to the signs of unremarkable websites. 

Chances are that your own website might look atrocious and you don’t even know it. It’s better to know now so you can take some easy steps to make it the true business tool it can become. 

But you can have a respectable-looking site or a site that is a true abomination of the Internet, and have both of them do very little for your business. No matter how it looks or what it says, if it isn’t getting traffic, then it’s failing — and it probably isn’t bad for the reasons you think.

Most websites derail at inception because the creators failed to establish objectives and a strategy to reach them. Without a clear objective, you are just putting information on a website and nothing more. If you want your website to do better than a Craigslist ad, you need to put in quite a bit of thought before you even begin. Identify your unique selling proposition, your target customers and their pain points, and what will attract that target audience. As you create your site, remember that the site isn’t primarily about your business. It is about attracting customers to your business by demonstrating you know them, understand them and can meet their needs with your extensive services, expertise and choice technologies. Start with a purpose and a strategy or don’t start at all. 

Another problem is the lack of a marketing plan. A website should follow marketing objectives; rather than just be a place to inform your potential customers about your services, it should lead them down an identified path and clearly explain what you want them to do and why they should do it. Every word, every graphic and every image should work together to motivate action. Potential customers will happily come to your website to become educated, but move on to another that closes the deal. 

It is also important not to let customers get lost in a maze of information. Including product lines, solutions, verticals served and capabilities is important and valuable to your customers and, therefore, valuable to you. In writing your content, share the most information possible in as few words as you can manage. Be succinct and you’ll keep their attention. 

Websites have come a long way since the ’90s when all they did was provide information — or at least, they should have. Another key element in websites that miss the mark is a lack of engagement. Websites should be a fluid, living extension of your security business with plenty of ways for the customer to reach you and engage with your company. Make sure your website has links to all of your social engagements where you promote new content regularly. 

Lastly, a major website mistake is a site that screams DIY, or MIY (Mock It Yourself). No matter how great you are at WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) website building, how many You Tube videos you watch on marketing or how well you did in creative writing class, you can’t be expected to have the same skill set as professionals who hone their skills daily. You just can’t pull together a comprehensive website that serves your business as a marketing tool on Fiverr. People do judge a business by their website; if your design is horrible and the copy amateur, you’re toast. Get the right help where you need it and you’ll end up with a site that allows you to concentrate on what you do best.

The good news is that whatever state your website is currently in, it is completely possible to make changes that will significantly improve its value to your security business.