When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel. - Eloise Ristad
I've come to this conclusion after studying success stories of people who were able to overcome unbelievable odds and create the life of their dreams.
For example, mentors who have inspired thousands of people to achieve their potential, and businessmen who have managed to grow their small businesses to be worth over several millions of dollars.
Failure is not to be feared. It’s an opportunity to learn.
But how do people fail in the first place? Are there things they do or things that they don't, which leads to failure or success?
From all my research, I've come to this understanding that we fail when we are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
According to Forbes, eight out of 10 startups fail within the first 18 months of business, failing to learn from their mistakes. Things like unrealistic goals, a declining marketing, and little feedback can be why most businesses fail.
If you do a quick online search, you will find many articles that highlight the challenges and avoidable mistakes that were made by startups. These stories also have happy endings because they were able to find a solution. Pinterest is a good example of a big website that found growth challenging at the early stage, and because of that they were able to use multiple growth strategies to grow as big as they are today.
But, this is a single case scenario. For others there is hope in the one growth strategy that is often ignored by startups. It’s content.
Why is content important?
Startups (especially online) focus solely on their product and its technicalities. They end up forgetting about their customers and this is a big mistake.
When a user visits your website, he can’t see the office behind the brand name. In fact, all they see is the site’s content. At the end of the day these two factors may or may not contribute to conversions.
If your content is lousy, boring, irrelevant or focusing too much on hard selling, chances are that the audience will bounce off the website faster than they came.
For internet-based startups, content is very important. It can be one of the main reasons why a potential customer will continue his buying journey with the company.
1. Your story may be interesting – but the buyer is not interested
Extolling the virtues of your business to investors may be a great idea, but it may not work with your potential customers.
You have to agree that there are businesses other than yours that have more powerful stories like Moz and how they grew from 500k in debt into a multimillion dollar business in just a few years.
To be honest, some customers might not be that interested in your story, preferring to hear more about what you offer and how your product or service can help them create their own unique story.
Let's look at Moz.com as an example. Although the company has an inspiring story, they aren’t really promoting their story on their website.
Instead, they are letting people know how their tool can help them get better visibility and leads.
Takeaway: Selling your personal story on the main page of your website might not help your business. Try showcasing how your product or service will benefit your visitors. This will help keep your potential customers engaged.
2. When businesses fail to answer basic questions
This is what the standard buying cycle looks like.
When a visitor lands on the website, he (in most cases) is at the awareness stage and has many questions.
Good content is the answer to those questions. A well thought-out content page can help visitors move up to the next stage of the buying cycle.
In my experience I have seen startups passionately talk about their product. They then start selling from the home page, which can be another content mistake leading to failure.
The best solution for this is to use the home page to answer all the possible questions that your audience might have. This will not only help potential customers take further interest and explore the rest of the website, but is also more likely to convert them into leads and customers.
At Workplace Depot, they are very conscious of this. Their home page doesn’t hard sell, but instead displays reasons why buyers should choose their products and services, like how they are going to benefit you, and who their customers are to better relate to potential buyers.
When you take this approach, your audience will find it easier to trust you.
Takeaway: Do not hard sell on your website. A more sensible approach is to tell your audience about the company, what it does, and answer all the basic questions. This will enable them to continue their journey through the website.
3. Using technical jargon may be a bad idea
Most internet-based startups have this problem. They get into the nitty-gritty technicalities of their products and use industry jargon that a layman fails to understand. Even worse, their website content is written in a similar way.
Remember that there is a big possibility that your potential buyers are not well-versed with the technical aspects of your product. In this case, the website content will only confuse them further.
Ensure that the content and product information is written in a simple and clear way so that anyone can easily comprehend what you do.
Get Response is a great example. From a single glance their homepage will tell you what the website does – Email Marketing.
Takeaway: The idea is to design your website content in a way that is simple and understandable for everyone from layman to industry expert.
4. Content must be SEO-focused and user-friendly
For many there are two kinds of startups.
One that believes that SEO is just another scam that gets money out of your pocket and delivers nothing. The other, believes that SEO is the only channel that can help them stay strong and visible in the market for the long-term. They ensure that everything on their website is designed according to SEO standards.
Both concepts are misguided.
Thinking SEO to be useless is unwise. The story of GrooveHQ is a case in point. They used to think SEO was a scammy strategy for startups. They changed their minds, got over the fears of SEO and improved conversion by 20%.
Meanwhile, thinking that SEO alone will help you win the race is not entirely true either.
SEO can help you grow, but you also need the complete digital marketing mix in the proper order. This means you should also invest in other channels like email marketing, PPC, lead nurturing and more.
Unfortunately, there are startups that create SEO-friendly content on their website and completely forget their customers. This is also not the right approach.
Ideally, your content should be both SEO and user-friendly. You will rank better for organic traffic which will hopefully convert into customers.
Takeaway: When creating content for your website, keep both SEO and your customers in mind so that you can win customers as well as search engine visibility.
What are you waiting for?
These were some of the most common mistakes that most online startups make in the beginning of their journey. As they say content is king, and not giving it due diligence can lead to failure.
Planning, executing, and adapting your content strategy for your audience is bound to give you better leads, and more customers. You’ll stay afloat in the highly competitive world of business.
Are you a startup struggling with content? Please share your stories in the comment below.