The Five Types of Webpage
There are five types of web page and you can map them to functions in your business to get a better understanding of what they do.
- Signpost/Front of House
- Customer Services
- Admin and Legal
Each type of page needs to be handled slightly differently to be effective.
The signpost page
The signpost page has one job - get the customer to where they need to be and do not let them leave.
Your homepage is your important signpost page. It has to mix marketing, sales, customer services, and some admin/legal work all into one layout. It’s your “front of house” - the first time a new customer interacts with your brand, and it’s got a lot of work to do.
The most important thing for a signpost page to do is to engage the customer and direct them clearly to where they need to go next.
The job of a marketing page is to answer questions and provide information that will encourage the customer to convert (to “buy”) and to give them a clear signpost on how they do that - linking to a product, product range, enquiry form, etc.
This type of page doesn’t explicitly ask the customer for the conversion.
This page does explicitly ask the customer for the conversion. This is the type of page that has “Add to Cart” and a price on it, in case you’re wondering.
Just like in the real world, marketing creates the opportunity and sales close it.
A sales page has two jobs:
- Get the customer to take the next step.
- If they can’t or won’t take that step - offer alternatives. Do not lose them.
If you’re building an eCommerce site, everything from that “add to cart” page through to the basket and checkout process is a sales page.
Google has a special term for these type of pages in its quality guidelines - “Your Money or Your Life”, and it really is that serious when it comes to eCommerce.
It’s cost you a lot of time and money to get the customer to the stage where they have a product in their basket… don’t screw it up now!
A customer services page is unlikely to generate any revenue for you. Its job is the opposite - it is there to save you money by keeping customers happy and reducing the time spent on dealing with queries, problems and complaints.
This is the type of page where good old FAQs raise their head again. If you’re selling a product that requires any degree of after-sales service, the more information you can provide on your website and the more “self-service” opportunities you can provide to your customer the better.
Customers like solving their own problems - in the modern, digital world making contact is the last resort for most consumers. Why do think that when people do want to make contact with a brand they increasingly do it on social media?
Between 2014 and 2015, complaints that were voiced on social media increased eight-fold. It’s 2018 now and 60% of consumers say they would happily “call a brand out” on social media with a complaint.
The customer service page is there to keep complaints, queries, and other customer issues at bay by providing answers, self-service solutions, and a route for contact that doesn’t involve screaming at the top of your digital lungs for the entire planet to hear on Twitter.
Never undervalue the importance of these pages - they can make a massive difference, not only to your return on investment in the short term, but also they go a long way to increasing the lifetime value of customers by keeping them happy and devoted to your brand.
“The best customer service is if the customer doesn't need to call you, doesn't need to talk to you. It just works.”
- Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon
Admin & legal: The pages you have to have, even though nobody asks for them
This is the last type of page and the one that’s most unlikely to come up in the question and answer session. You’ll know it when you see it - it’s those pages that every website has in its footer and that nobody ever reads:
- Terms and Conditions
- Customer Service Policy
Some “Policy Pages” are a legal requirement and what you will need to have will differ with both your industry and with the geographic territory you are working in.
Other policy pages are there to cover you in the event that a customer has a problem with your goods or services - it’s not uncommon for eCommerce sites to require customers to tick a box to say they “Agree to Terms and Conditions”, even though they probably haven’t read them.
In 2017, Jonathan Obar of York University in Toronto and Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch of the University of Connecticut ran an experiment using a fictional social network called “NameDrop”. In the experiment, hundreds of college students tapped the big green “Join” button to become members of NameDrop. But according to paragraph 2.3.1 of the terms of service, they’d agreed to give NameDrop their future first-born children.
Only a quarter of the 543 students even bothered to look at the fine print. But “look” is not “read”: on average, these more careful joiners spent around a minute with the thousands of words that make up NameDrop’s privacy and service agreements. And then they all agreed to them.
So, putting your Terms and Conditions and Policies on your website might be a legal essential, but don’t expect customers to pay attention to them!
Applying the five types to our content grid
Applying the five types to our content grid, we’ve now got something like this:
Save money on telephone calls with IP Telephony from Brand X.
Brand X are the IP Telephony provider who can save you money on your telephone calls.
What is IP Telephony and how does it work?
What are the benefits of IP Telephony?
How much does IP Telephony cost?
Who are Brand X and who have we worked with?
Contact Brand X about IP Telephony.
Help and Support.
Terms and Conditions.
Admin & Legal
You’ll note that I’ve classified “How much does IP Telephony Cost” as a Sales page rather than a Marketing page. This comes back to the very first bit of sales training I ever received, working on a shop floor of a UK retailer - reading buying signs.
If someone walks in holding their cheque-book, it’s a crime to let them leave without writing a cheque.
What about blog posts and news?
These get a job, but they don’t live on the tree.
Why? Because blog posts and news are transitory - the older they get the further down the blog they will be pushed (assuming you keep blogging, which you absolutely must do!) and whilst we will revisit pages on our website to revise and improve them it’s not necessary to do this with blog posts.
If there is new news on a topic or something changes - write a new blog post.
And, in case you can’t guess - blog posts are sales pages.
If you’re blogging about a product - link to it. If you’re blogging about a service - link to it. Failing anything else, ask the reader to contact you for more information. A blog post without a call to action is a sad thing indeed.