I have the opportunity to talk with hundreds of Affiliate owners each year. This includes both large, well-established Affiliates that seem to have top-of-the-line everything all the way down to guys who are bootstrapping their dream out of their garage and spare time. When I talk to these Affiliate owners, I ask questions, and I mean a LOT of questions. I want to learn as much as I can about each and every Affiliate, because that’s where I learn how we can help them.
As a part of the exploration process, I get to do research on their existing website, and the websites they tell me they like. Through my conversations and research, I see a LOT of similarities in both the perceived purpose of the website and the implementation of the website.
Here’s the most common pitfalls I see, and how to fix them:
- All websites are the same. This is false. You can build your own website, buy a pre-built theme, hire a kid out of school, get a member to do your site, hire a local competitor or hire an expert. Ultimately, your business is selling a premium product to people who can afford premium prices. With your marketing — specifically your website — you want to make sure the perceived value of the marketing material matches the perceived value of the service you’re selling. Hire someone that understands your business and understands how to help you get more clients.
- The website should primarily serve the existing member. This is false. The primary purpose of your website should be to attract members, the majority being prospects. Ultimately, your website should be a 24/7 lead generating machine. If it’s not, treat it like a regular employee and find one that will do that job effectively.
- The Affiliate doesn’t know what makes them unique. This is unfortunate. Most Affiliates will give me subjective answers. We have the “best community” or the “best programming” or the “best coaching.” They may be right! But, the problem is that every Affiliate can claim the same thing because it’s based purely on opinion. If you don’t have anything objective that makes you different, create something, and use it on your website, because people ultimately want to be part of something special.
- The website doesn’t have easily accessible contact information. This is a faux pas. Most prospects won’t look around your site to find ways to contact you; they’ll just check out your competition and go there.
- A well-designed site is the most effective. This is misleading. While this should be true, it isn’t. Just because you’ve used an attractive WordPress or SquareSpace theme, it doesn’t mean your website is effective. It just means it looks nice! When designing your website, the proper message, layout and call-to-action will do far more than a pretty theme.
- People understand how to get started. This is false. Prospects need their hands held through a very clear and actionable path-of-purchase. Keep in mind, most of your prospects are new at CrossFit, probably intimidated and definitely overwhelmed. If you don’t make it incredibly easy and straightforward, they’ll get frustrated and most likely leave.
- It’s OK to have your workout on your homepage. This is false. While the origins of CrossFit included people that were on the fringes, things have changed. CrossFit has moved to the masses and is appealing to the average person. If the average person sees “Fight Gone Bad” or “Murph” when they first get to your website, they may read over it and decide that CrossFit is too hard. Move your workout to an interior page. Your existing members may not like it at first, but they will get used to it.
- Free Intros are only offered once a week or less. This isn’t enough. We’ve seen a lot of Affiliates push people to try a free Saturday class. If you believe that the free intro is one of your best selling tools — which most Affiliates agree on — then why would you make someone wait a week? To make matters worse, these free intro classes are generally followed by a regular group class. This generally means that your prospects don’t get an immediate follow up. Your opportunity to strike while the iron is hot is now lost. Be more flexible on your free intro and try to get prospects in sooner rather than later.
- Cellphone photos are good enough. This is unacceptable. Yes, modern smartphones have increasingly good photographic capabilities, but they still don’t compare to what a real photographer can do with a professional camera. High quality photos will go a long way in showing the value of your service and can be used in all your marketing mediums. Oftentimes, you don’t have to hire an expensive photographer, as most Affiliates have one that goes to the gym. Trade them for exposure, membership or private training.
- Your logo is good enough. You’re probably wrong. Most Affiliates hate paying for logo design, yet this is the visual identity that they are building their business on. Your logo should be simple, memorable, readable at small sizes and flexible enough to use on different advertising mediums — generally a 16×9 aspect ratio is a good place to start. I see a lot of logos that are none of these. They are highly complex or incredibly boring, use treatments that make them less readable or are sizes that prevent them from being versatile. If you have a bad logo, fix it. Give your members something exciting to connect with.
- Your website isn’t responsive. You’re frustrating your prospects. All new websites should be built with responsive design and layout. What does this mean? It means having a website that changes to accommodate different browser sizes like your phone or tablet. The changes are important because they help make your website continue to be easily usable on smaller devices.
- Your content isn’t organized well. This is unfortunate. If you have no strategy or organization with your content, you’ll find that your site will end up making your prospects and members search for a needle in a haystack. Your site should organize content in a cohesive way. If you don’t have experience with this, you may want to hire someone who does.
If you take a look at your site and see any of these issues, address them sooner than later. Your website is being viewed by potential members every day. The sooner you can avoid these pitfalls, the sooner you can start converting more visitors into leads and leads into members.