How To: Make Your Website Your Top Spokesperson

Here’s my number one tip for building a great website: Think of your website as the digital equivalent of your top spokesperson.

So to start, what’s your top spokesperson like? They know your students, mission and school inside and out. They’re likable. They ask just the right questions at just the right time. They follow up on time. This isn’t an amateur. This is a veteran who knows what they’re doing. Now, take those qualities and apply them to your website. I’ve studied a lot about the psychology behind making big financial commitments and I’ve also built a lot of websites. In my view, here are five things a good spokesperson does that a good website should do too:

1. A good spokesperson knows her prospect.

A good spokesperson knows everything about her target prospect including demographics, interests, world views and most importantly: their pain. Thanks to this knowledge, she can quickly build relationships with her prospective students and help them discover if your school is a fit for them. She comes across as an expert who understands the importance of choosing the right school and understands how to guide potential students to the right fit for them. Similarly, a good website knows its users. The home page speaks to the pain the potential student is experiencing. The navigation reflects questions the user would be asking. It shows quotes from past students that will resonate with the user. It shows imagery that the visitor will appreciate. It says the words the prospect will recognize and relate to.

2. A good spokesperson knows her market. She knows how her school’s offerings stack up against the alternatives.

A good spokesperson is very aware of how her school fits into the educational landscape. She knows its strengths and weaknesses, just as she knows the strengths and weaknesses of competing schools. Similarly, a good website knows that other schools’ websites are likely open in browser tabs right next to its own. It knows who the other players are in the industry and the path a student has likely traveled before arriving here. It knows that if it doesn’t help a potential student understand why this school is the one for them right away, they’ll leave. It zeroes in on the mission and what makes the school unique, and doesn’t dilute the message with confusing or extra content.

3. A good spokesperson educates and empowers. She helps student discover their desire to be part of the university on their own.

People don’t like to be pushed. The best spokespeople lead their prospects to an emotional discovery of need, then let the student decide if/when/how to move forward. Similarly, a website needs to court the student. Through good copy, images and videos, it needs to raise rhetorical questions that lead a user toward discovering his desire to attend the university. A good website also knows that these days, 70% of a user’s decision is made in a research and information gathering phase before they ever actually talk to a live person. It has the information to educate potential students and set them on the path to success.

70% of a user’s decision is made in a research and information gathering phase before they ever talk to a live person.

4. A good spokesperson is likable.

At the end of the day, we want to be around and invest in people we like. This is especially true for high-dollar transactions (like an education) because we know the purchase is not the end of the transaction but the beginning of a relationship. Good spokespeople are likable and leave us feeling confident in our decision to share a small portion of our life’s journey with them. A good website should also be likable. It should employ writing and original video content that speaks to the student and leaves them feeling warm inside.

5. A good spokesperson makes buying easy and provides post-sale support.

Once a student has committed, sometimes the best thing for a spokesperson to do is to get out of the way! Similarly, a website needs a clear call to action and an intuitive path to converting that leaves the prospect with minimal opportunity to second-guess his decision. Once the conversion is complete, a good spokesperson stays close by to make sure there aren’t any cold feet. The digital equivalent of this is a good “thank you” page, a follow-up email and maybe an internal trigger of some personal outreach from the school.

More reasons to create a digital salesperson

These are just a few examples, but the analogy goes on and on. Thinking of your website in this way will improve the quality of every decision you make during the design process. Now, obviously a website will never replace a good spokesperson, but it can serve as an extremely valuable “warm up” or “companion” act to the real sales process, and it can even do some things that traditional spokesperson can’t do such as:

  • Work 24/7, never calling in sick and never having a bad day
  • Deliver the message exactly as the owner intended every time without variation
  • Work with mediums such as video and graphical representations
  • Interact with 20,000 people at the same time

A great spokesperson is one of the best assets your school can have. What else should yours be doing for you? What else can your website be doing that it doesn’t right now?