So, your salespeople, clients or your inner voice have been telling you for a while now, “You need a website.”

But how important is a website, really? Do you really need one? How complex should it be? And, just as you’d expect, the answer is: it depends. There are differences in how your website should look based on one of the oldest rules in the marketing book: knowing your customer.

Take Coca-Cola, for example. Or Apple. Or Tide detergent.

They know that an average visitor to their website is very different from the average visitor to the Phoohoozle Pumpkin Pastry Company.

For unlike Phoohoozle, where the average visitor may not have ever heard of the company before, and certainly have not tasted one of their pumpkin pastry delights, Coca Cola knows that every visitor already knows their company – and can probably even mentally “taste” Coke as they type in the website address into their browser. This fact colors the entire website experience.

Should the website act mainly as a brochure for the brand, perhaps containing a list of all the stores that carry their pumpkin-ish delights, or, perhaps more along the line of a more well-known cola type in your industry, should you have a website that focuses on the brand perception. For an energy supply company like BP in particular, perhaps addressing how they are in touch with prospective investor and shareholder questions about their dedication to protecting and sustaining the environment is the best approach because that is what a large percentage of the visitors are searching for.

Your website should have a privacy policy and contact page (for Google’s good graces, forget your customers and that it makes them more comfortable that you have it).

Studies have proven that ads (which is what websites really are) with a phone number will outperform those without; this has been proven true even when the phone number was out of service and put in solely as a control.

Those ads with an (actual, not POB) address and phone number show clients that they have nothing to hide, which boosts response. So do SSL website security seals – “We ship FedEx” logos, for example – and the use of a satisfaction guarantee.

While many people feel that “If I do that, everyone will ask for a refund,” giving that kind of commitment to your product or service will generate a tremendous amount of new business because for the people who are on the fence and indecisive of what action to take, this makes hiring you a complete no-brainer.

Does the competition in your industry offer a one-year guarantee? Offer a two-year guarantee! South Korean auto manufacturer Kia built a tremendously successful business on that very concept.

When Kia launched in the United States, people were skeptical about how well the car would perform. At the low price point they were charging to get market share, it seemed sort of like it couldn’t possibly be something worth buying because “in a year it will be ready for the dump.”

By making the warranty five to seven years, they dispelled that notion – fast. “Why not try them?” people mused.

“With a guarantee like that, and a price like that, how can I go wrong?” And today, Kia is an accepted, moved-to-mainstream brand of car, which continues to gain popularity and success in its market niche.

Kia’s website, however, is different from the website of Mercedes. Because while people have probably heard of the brand in both cases, the Kia website must still revolve more around and make the case for its value and guarantee, while Mercedes can afford to focus more on just exactly how fast it goes from 0 to 90 miles an hour.

Take the time to visit your own website as a stranger.

Who are the people coming to it? At what stage of the buying process or brand recognition have they come? Are you delivering the message more appropriately for them to help you sell more products or cement your market position? Just as parents are urged to (literally) crawl around the house and see it at the eye level of a two-year-old to ensure the house is safe for folks of the toddler stage in life, so too do you need to go to your own website or business, and to your own marketing materials, with that same approach.

Are the visitors to your website, or prospects who are viewing your materials, seeing your business presented to them with the most “greasy slide” possible to help the glitch downward and help coax them further down the path into your brand’s open embrace? When you do this right, the numbers will show you just how important those changes can be.

www.issamar.com Issamar Ginzberg is a business adviser, marketer, professional speaker and rabbi.

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