10 ways to differentiate your website by making it more personal

With all of the cheap themes, hosted CMS platforms and launch page options available these days, it’s hard to get away from that ‘stock’ look. Differentiating your site from the competition and personalizing it, is an important part of making your business stand out.

In this post I’ll look at 10 specific ways you can go about doing exactly that. These suggestions are part of the WP Curve Website Review Template, which you can grab below.

10 ways to differentiate your website through personalization – CLICK TO TWEET

Grab the free website review template

We will email you the full website review template (Google Doc). You will also join 20,000 people and get my weekly emails with business and online marketing advice. 

 

1.  Use professional, custom images

boosted_boards

Professional photography is becoming a really clear differentiator for high quality businesses. Professional images of the product in use, or the founders at work can be a clear sign that this is a company that takes itself seriously.

On the flip side, poor quality images will kill your credibility. So I would generally favour stock photos over poor quality personal images. But if you can make the effort and expense of getting professional images and integrating them tightly into the design, the results can be stunning.

Boosted Boards is a nice example of nice product shots, images of the product in use and subtle videos that showcase the board. If they can make me want to pay $2,000 for a skateboard they are doing something right!

2.  Include social proof

medium_social_proof

Social proof shows people that other people care about your business. Examples could include:

  • Mentioning other people who are customers.
  • Social media embeds like Facebook like boxes. Particularly the ones that show who out of your friends like the product.
  • Ratings from external sources.
  • Customer stories or testimonials.

It gives them proof but it also makes things more personal particularly if the elements are of people (head shots), or they mention you or your business specifically (testimonials).

3.  Do testimonials well

planscope_testimonials

I’ve put testimonials on their own because they are a big part of personalizing a site and often done poorly. Here are a few ways to do testimonials well:

  • Make sure the text sends the message you want to send, not the message the customer wants to send. By that I mean put time into writing the testimonials (with approval) to support your message and tapping into the fears or objections of your potential customers. For example the customer might say ‘I love using your software’. A better testimonial might be “I was worried (fear) that my team wouldn’t use your software (objection), but they love it!”
  • Use high quality people images.
  • Make them clean and clear. I’ve seen external embeds that look terrible. If you have to take a bit of extra time to make them fit into the design, then take the time.
  • Make sure they are from a person who closely resembles your ideal customer.
  • Provide diversity if you can.
  • Make them contextual if you can – i.e. put a testimonial about ‘Speed’ in the part of your page that talks about your response times.

These aren’t hard and fast rules, but they should help to get more impact from your testimonials.

4.  Focus on the founders

back_to_the_roots_founders

Long gone are the days of smaller businesses trying to appear more like corporates. People want to work with other people, so having the founders present in marketing materials makes a lot of sense.

Again it’s important that it’s done well and the images are of a high standard.

You can do it with testimonials that mention the founders by name, or with detailed about pages or even in the main page copy or design.

Back to the Roots do a great job of integrating their story into the copy and design of the site.

5.  Have a great about page

grovemade_about

The about page is often one of the most popular pages on a site. It’s a perfect opportunity for showing a more personal side and connecting with your visitors. Here are a few ways you might do it:

  • Use the about page to tell your story.
  • Use press mentions and company highlights.
  • Have high quality photos or videos of the team.
  • Include a social media stream showing what your team is up to.
  • Show the whole team and have them share something interesting.

These days it’s just as common to include the about content on your homepage, either way you can use some of the ideas here.

Check out bestaboutpages.com for some inspiration.

6.  And a great contact page

hubspot_support

Contact or support pages are a good opportunity to show a more personal element. A few ways you might do that:

  • Include all of your important ‘real’ contact information including emails, phone numbers, physical addresses etc.
  • Show your full team on there.
  • Apply some of the same ideas mentioned in the about section above.
  • If you are also using it to funnel people off to help resources, design them well and don’t be too aggressive with it.

Hubspot do a great job of this on their support page. They put their agenda up the top in a well presented manner (help guides etc). They then put their team and multiple contact options down the bottom.

7.  Showcase customer stories

tesla_stories

Taking testimonials even further, is the idea of championing stories from your customers. These could take the shape of a dedicated page on your site, or the occasional blog post about how your customers are using the service.

It’s a bit self serving sure, but as long as it’s not overdone, it can work really well. We recently put up a post about how one of our customers was using WP Curve and people loved it (see 5 reasons we love WP Curve). We use this to send to potential customers to give them a feel for what working with us is really like.

The Tesla customer stories page is another example of a dedicated page that shows stories, photos and videos about how customers are using the product.

8.  Include press mentions

alex_fox_tv

Don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet occasionally. If you’ve landed some mentions in the press, make the most of it. I always love reading stories about companies and entrepreneurs that I like, who have been covered.

Press articles or videos often delve into personal areas that you wouldn’t otherwise showcase on your site.

Speaking of blowing your own trumpet I’ll use Co-founder Claff as the example here. We got a great response from our audience when he appeared on Fox TV with Clayton Morris.

Other ways of doing it include adding logos to your homepage and linking off to press stories, including the occasional blog post about your press mentions, or even including the logos on your about page.

9.  Tell personal stories in your content

groove_image

Content marketing is my favorite way to deeply connect with your audience in a personal way. People love the stories we put on our blog, the more personal and revealing the better. My posts on Medium have generally done very well also.

We’ve built a great community of people around us, who want to support us. It’s the secret sauce in our business. It’s the reason we’ve only ever spent $180 in advertising.

Here are some other founders who have developed a strong community, by connecting through their content.

  • John Dumas has built a huge following, some of his most popular posts are his detailed income reports.
  • James Altucher is well known for revealing personal, sometimes uncomfortable info in his blog posts and podcast interviews. It’s served him well and resulted in a big following, a strong legion of supporters and a lot of success with his book launches and other business endeavours.
  • Joel and the team at Buffer have released a full dashboard of their live financials. They are well known for being transparent with their content and they have built an amazing business off the back of it.
  • Erica Douglass has built a huge audience by allowing them to follow her journey as an entrepreneur. Erica has had big ups (selling her company for $1m), and downs (company failures losing investors money). Her audience has gone through it with her, and will be there to lend a hand on her next entrepreneurial adventure.
  • Alex from Groove is another founder who has quickly built a great audience by sharing his ups and downs in entrepreneurship. His content is polished and personal, and he regularly gets posts in front of thousands of people who can relate to his learnings. As you can see from his blog, his business is booming too.

These are all fairly extreme examples. Not every business is keen to publicize every private detail about their business. But being more personal with your content doesn’t have to mean that. It could just mean small things like making sure your blog includes author boxes and social media links to founders. Or giving your own perspective on topics that only you can share.

Content marketing with personal, transparent stories is a great way to engage an audience. And I can attest first hand, that it can also translate into real business results.

10.  Talk to your customers (live chat)

olark_screenshot

I’m a huge fan of using live chat in a business, particularly in the early stages. When we started using live chat we assumed everyone would use it for support. In actual fact, people rarely use it for support. We use it mostly for talking to new potential customers or partners.

Sometimes they have technical questions but more often than not, they just want to chat to make sure we are real people!

This is the main reason I’m not a fan of outsourced chat services that just pass on messages. You are missing a big opportunity, not taking the time to talk to your customers.

Our live chat runs 24 / 7, and most of our team have looked after the chat at some stage. Alex and I look after the chat regularly and people are always pleasantly surprised when they learn they are talking with the founders.

Here is a detailed guide we put together on live chat integration. We use Olark which is a great service that we have used from day 1.

The WP Curve website review template

In the post you have just read, I took 1 component from our Website review template, personalization and delved into some more detail. The full template is a 20 page Google doc that goes through 10 components of great modern website design for small business. You can use it to review the effectiveness of your own site.

If you want to grab the full review template, check it out below.

Grab the free website review template

We will email you the full website review template (Google Doc). You will also join 20,000 people and get my weekly emails with business and online marketing advice. 

 

Have you seen personalization done well?

Let me know in the comments below.

About

Dan Norris is a co-founder at WP Curve and a passionate entrepreneur with an obsession for content marketing.

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