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05. Tell your story - Help visitors get to know you.

Given the amount of competition on the web, you need to do everything you can to stand out from your competitors. Start on your homepage by positioning your company and explaining what sets you apart in your industry.

This goes beyond describing the benefits of your product or service - this is about you and your company establishing credibility. There are several ways to toot your own horn. Try to incorporate these, when relevant, on your site.

Testimonials:

The best way to establish credibility is to show that your product or service really works. Including testimonials from satisfied customers explaining how your product or service has improved their lives does just that. And since it's from an objective third party (hopefully), it rings especially true to potential customers.

It's best to include the names, locations and, if possible, small pictures of satisfied customers. This personalizes their messages, adds credibility to their statements and shows that they're real people who've enjoyed real benefits from your product.

You'll get a bigger payoff if you have testimonials from known sources such as newspapers or magazines, or from recognizable people such as civic, academic or industry leaders. For instant impact, showcase your best testimonial(s) on your homepage. You should have a separate testimonials page as well. The more satisfied customers boasting about your company, the better - as long as they're credible.

"About Us" & FAQ pages:

An "About Us" page provides information about you, your staff and your company. Post pictures of yourself and your staff. This takes the anonymity out of doing business on the web and shows customers they're buying from real people they can relate to. On your FAQ (frequently asked questions) page, provide a list of your customers' most commonly asked questions and the answers to them.

This can save you time and money. Instead of spending time answering customers' questions over the phone, you can put up an FAQ page, which allows customers to essentially self-serve and get the answers they're seeking. If you use a toll-free number, heading off customer calls with an FAQ page can save you lots of money.

Contact information:

Provide full contact information, including your name, mailing address, fax and phone numbers, and an e-mail link to you or customer service in an easy to - find place on your site.

You should also post your phone number and/or e-mail address somewhere on every page. If you don't make it easy to reach you, some potential customers will jump to the conclusion that you're unprofessional or possibly even disreputable.

News & announcements:

Include press releases and news about your company or your industry in this section. This helps you once again establish credibility through third-party sources.

Media or press sections:

If you've been featured in any media, provide links to the articles. It's illegal to post the whole article unless you get permission from the media company that first published it.

If you seek permission, make sure you also ask if you can use their logo. Showing a recognizable logo helps your visitors immediately identify the source of the story and adds more credibility to your business.

Email Marketing / Newsletters:

If you send out e-newsletters or e-mails to your customer and prospect lists, be sure to mention any articles about you or your company, and include links to them. You can get additional publicity (which brings more attention to your site and likely more eyeballs, too) by promoting it offline as well. (By offline, we're referring to more traditional forms of advertising such as magazine ads and printed brochures.)

If you've received coverage from a national media outlet, let your local newspaper know. Local newspaper editors (especially for the business section) often like to play up the fact that a local business owner is getting national media recognition. The same holds true for college alumni magazines, which like to promote the accomplishments of their graduates. This coverage can drive potential customers to your site.

Video:

Many websites now incorporate video to highlight certain products, convey important information or just personalize the web experience. Video can be used to demonstrate products, illustrate a point, show a case study or even conduct virtual tours. Remember the old adage, "A picture is worth 1,000 words." Producing video is not as hard as you might think, but you have to make sure it enhances the user experience and doesn't detract from it.

Make sure your video looks professional so it adds credibility. If you're in doubt, there are plenty of places you can turn to that will host the video for you. Using these tools to give visitors a better idea of who you are and what your business does builds not only your credibility, but also the connection you share with your customers. Telling your story on your site will make visitors



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