EP149: Benoit Mercier - Effective Design Principles For A Successful Website

Online presence.

Effective digital marketing.

According to our guest today, those are the key ingredients for business success.Benoit Mercier is a web consultant for the web design and development company, Bloomtools.

He helps small and medium-sized businesses grow their revenues by providing powerful websites, internet marketing tools and strategies that deliver results.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The 5 Ps of website design

  • The value of a website and what can it do for your business

  • Different tools to use for a successful website design

To connect with Benoit, email him at benoit.mercier@bloomtools.ca.

For his LinkedIn, click here.

To visit Bloomtools, go here.


Michael Palmer: 01:18 Welcome back to the successful bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a good one. Our guest is a web consultant who helps small and medium businesses grow their revenues by providing powerful websites and internet marketing tools and the strategies that deliver results. Benoit Mercier, welcome to the show.

Benoit Mercier: 01:30 Hi Michael. Thank you and thanks to all the listeners. I'm very happy, very excited to be here today and hopefully, we can share a few nuggets of information that will be helpful for everyone.

MP: 01:45 I think so, and it's one of those things that I think with our listeners, and I'm sure our listener will agree, it's one of those things that we all know very important to have a website and to put out our, our best face forward to the world. However, there's just so many options and there's can be a lot of work that goes into all of this.

BM: 02:15 So I'm, I'm really excited about helping them get a few things in their mind that they can take on and really help drive results for their business through website and online marketing.

MP: 02:35 Excellent. That's what we're going to cover today. And you know, you mentioned the, the online presence and that's sort of the, the key element, having at least the website. I, there was a survey I read last year where 46% of small and medium businesses in the US did not have a website that's a bit, you know, puzzling these days. But the two most often mention issues or concerns that they had was number one, price. You know, can they afford it? Is it too much for their budget? But number two, a lot of business owners that did not seem to realize the value of the website and what can they do for the business.

BM: 03:10 So I'm hoping that today with the, the uh, the five ps, the five elements that we have for a successful website design, that the listeners will be more inclined to get their websites done and updated to attract more clients.

MP: Beautiful. And you know, it's, it's interesting how when myself, speaking for myself, I know about websites have for a long time know how valuable they are. And I think it's a curse of knowledge sometimes. I think that just everybody knows the potential and power of what a website and just to, and some online marketing can do, but it's like often we don't share those things or share enough about it because we think, well, Geez, everybody should just know this stuff. So I think this is going to be a great episode for that. And before we get into these awesome ideas, tell us a little bit about you and your career leading up to this point.

BM: 04:06 We're helping small business. Okay, so that's a, an interesting path there. So you mentioned earlier, I'm a web consultant and I've been doing that for about four years now. So helping small, medium businesses get better results online, right? Either getting people online for the first time or people that have been online for a while help them get better results and more leads, more business, more visibility, you know, whatever the, the metric is. And that's what I've been focusing on for the past few years. Prior to that, I was in the corporate world. I'm trained as an engineer, electrical engineer, and I've done marketing and business development in the corporate world. So I'm taking that skillset mostly on the business development and the marketing and I'm applying that to the small-medium business space and specifically with web-based technologies. I love it. You bring a lot of knowledge and from a few different places, which I think is really valuable.

BM: 05:10 And so one of the things that you said is like cost. Those are the two big ones of why our listener may or may not have a website, would be cost and they're just not familiar with the power of what a website can do. What, what's what have you, have you worked with people that, you know, they, those people that they haven't had a website and all of a sudden you work with them and you help get them set up in a simple way. You know, nothing fabulous or like off the chart complex, but you just gave him a little bit of help. What was the result for their business? Well, for the most part it gives those businesses and aura of legitimacy, right? So when you meet someone in a business, you give them the car, do you give them your business name? You have an exchange.

BM: 06:01 What does that person do when they get back home or back in the office? They Google you to see what your online presence is. You know, do you have a website? Do you have social media? Is this person for real? Right? So if you don't have anything, then the person you're talking to is kind of wondering like, hmm, is this guy really legit? Does he know what he's doing? You know, you're looking for social proof, you're looking for online proof. And the worst thing is if you don't have an online presence, then they will find your competitors. So not only do you not get the business in the first place, but your competitors are getting the business was kind of a double whammy. So in terms of the results, then we really help the businesses get, you know, get more traffic, generate leads. And if you're starting out in business, that's a great way to establish yourself online is by starting with the website.

MP: 07:04 You know, in this day and age as well, I think there's not a ton. I do a lot of online shopping cause it's convenient. Uh, and often what I'm finding, it's very difficult to find unique things in my local, my local street, my local mall. I need something very specific, like a piece of a part for something, you know, it's like you just can't go out and get a part for your refrigerator down at the local hardware store. So when I'm online and I'm shopping, I rely heavily on the reviews, the website. Like I don't, I don't want to, cause I don't know, I'm not there, I'm not holding it in my hands. I'm not a prior customer. So I, I rely on all that data to help me make a better decision. And so I think, right, everything you're saying is only gonna amplify as people become more astute and have, create new behaviors around how they make decisions online.

BM: 08:04 Yeah, absolutely. And you know, when us as consumers and as business owners, when we have a need for a product or service or a service, what do we do? I mean, we Google it. Why don't we go online and we look for it? And to your point, Michael, the reviews help influence us or at least help overcome some of the fears and objections that we would have with dealing with a certain business. And that's what it's really all about. If you're a, if you're not on Google, you don't really exist these days.

MP: 08:34 Yeah, you're absolutely right. And so for the most part, what we've talked about, this is really, you know, at a core level, the website, it's job before even talking about finding new customers, your example was at a network event, give your card, they're going to go and check your website out. And this is really validating

MP: 08:56 and help, helping support. The next step in that relationship with them is, are they real? What do they look like? What do you know? Is this somebody that I'd want to deal with? So the website is supporting the sales funnel, if you will. But what are some mistakes potentially that could happen that would, oh, hey, I've got my website, I'm good. You know what? What do people typically do where it's like, yeah, they got the website, they checked the box, but now the sales funnels breaking because something's happening. It's not working. All right. So one common misconception that a I come across all the time is the perception for some business owners that a website is a website is a website, right? It's kind of like saying all cars are the same and the way the websites are designed, the way they are built, you know, both on the front what we can see and also on the back end a has a lot of influence on how a business can be found online.

BM: 09:56 And I think I'd like to inject at this point, the first key. So we have this formula called the five ps of a website design. And they're a little different than the four p's of marketing, but it's kind of similar. So the first P to your point, Michael, is purpose. So what do you want to accomplish online with your web presence? Specifically the website, the web presence. You know, at large you want to be found, most businesses need to be found. You want to attract customers, right? You want to drive traffic, you want to be able to generate leads and you want to get more customers. So you know that's a purpose for, I mean you're in business to get business. So that only makes sense that you would have that as a one of the key ingredients, right? But it's surprising and how many people don't think about what their goal is when they get online.

BM: 10:46 A second goal could be to keep or retain clients. So getting them to, you know, hire you more often or increase the package so you get more revenue. You can ask clients for referrals as well, right? As a way to grow your business. And some businesses will also look at ways of streamlining their operations. So the website can be powerful in terms of collecting information on leads and on prospect. But then you need that information to be actionable. You need to do something with it in order to make it effective for your business. So that's the first P in. It's all about purpose. And do you find when people mess up that first p, what does it look like for them to be messing that up? Well, it really depends. Sometimes it's not quite obvious at first because everyone's sort of focuses on the look and feel, right?

BM: 11:42 The graphic representation, all that's a great looking website. So the, what's missing in there is not always obvious because it may look good, but you know, things like your calls to action, things like your differentiators, right? What makes you different? And that's one of the PS is persuasion. You want people to stay on the website once they get there and you want people to take action, typically you have three to seven seconds say to tell people who you are, what you do, what makes you different, and when to send it for them. Otherwise, they'll bounce. They'll go to another website, right? So the imagery that you have should be aimed at your target market. The words that you use, you know the sentences and the keywords should also be aimed at your target market and the design of the website, the layout has to encourage people to take action.

BM: 12:43 So that means it has to highlight your differentiators. You know, what makes you different or what are your points of, of strengths. And it also has to in a sense, gain the trust of the viewer, give them peace of mind, overcoming the fear and the objection that they may have of doing business with you. And again, as I mentioned in a minute or so ago, the calls to action, you could have a fantastic looking website. You can have all the differentiators you want, but if you're not encouraging people to contact you to subscribe to your newsletters, download your, uh, you know, your ebook or your spreadsheet or whatever it is. If you don't have those specific calls to action, then you're not going to get the same kind of results as you could with a different website.

MP: 13:37 In a lot of, a lot of opportunity lost without having these things in place. And based on what you're saying, you know, they can't persuasion. They come. If they, if you met somebody at a party, uh, there would be all sorts of things happening in that interaction that would make people either want to remain talking to you or to go find a go find, go ahead and hit the bar and find a drink. Right?

BM: 14:04 Yes. And so websites kind of the same way, you know, they've come there, it's like what makes, what's going to make them on a very low level? What's gonna make them want to stick around and say, yeah, I want to learn more about this person or engage with them or go forth with whatever they're, they're up to. So it's, I think that's where if I see websites all the time, I think it's a big, big mistake people make is they think they've got to put too much on the page or, or just have a lot of information that is industry-specific. That wouldn't mean anything. As I can imagine. You met somebody at a party and all of a sudden you start blurting off all the things you did right? Or you know, all this stuff. I can do this. And I like rafting and you know, hey, we can do that and I know all this stuff. You're just like you the person like automatic go get another drink.

MP: 14:52 Move.

BM: 14:53 Yeah. Right. Exactly. And that's where the importance here of the target market, right? Know who your audience is, know who you want to get as as a client. And then you reorient, you focus either the website at that target market and that's how you get better results.

Yeah. And that's, that's uh, an interesting one. And I think that gets people confused right away too. It's like, oh my goodness, I have to decide. I have to decide who my market is. What if I don't know. Yes. And then you know, it's at that can be paralyzing. So it's like, okay, uh, you just go and fill up your website with all sorts of stuff or you try to make it for everybody or you don't do it at all. And those are all bad options. So excellent employee recommendation when it comes to having people make that decision, it's like decide, yeah.

BM: 15:47 So if you've been in business for a while, then you have a better feel for your target market, your specific target clients, right? I mean for bookkeepers, you can cover all sorts of businesses, all sorts of industries. And I know that some, uh, bookkeepers really focus on one segment. So that's one aspect that you can do. If you do decide not to specialize in one specific industry, then be cognizant or think about what kind of clients you want. You know, you look at a certain dollar value, look as certain number of employees, certain number of transaction, whatever your criteria may be. Try to identify that and then develop your, you know, marketing materials. So either website, your social media and the rest of the things that is aimed at going after that market segment that you've identified.

MP: 16:45 Beautiful. So we've, we've talked about purpose, right? Purpose. You also mentioned persuasion. Was that the second one or we jump ahead?

BM: 16:49 Actually those are the third one but doesn't matter because they're all tied together, right? They all have an impact on one another.

MP: 16:56 What you're talking recently is just if I can bring up promotion.

BM: 17:02 Yes. The website is part of your marketing efforts and marketing efforts, your marketing plans, part of your business plan and in terms of how you promote your business. There's two main avenues. One is offline and one is online. Obviously my expertise is more on the online side but because of my corporate experience, I'm also familiar with the offline. So when you're talking about offline in me, it can be simple things like putting your logo on your business cards right assigned for your office. Some people like to have a uniform right or a shirt with the logo and worry there is some people have signs on their cars or their, their, their SUV is as they drive around.

BM: 17:43 There's also a traditional media either you know, direct mail or um, your local newspaper, magazine advertising, things like that. And personally I'm a big fan of networking. You know, you go and meet people face to face, either through your board of trade, your chamber of Commerce, your BNI, or your whatever networking organization you belong to because then it helps to build a bit of the rapport, right? The offline activities that you do should drive traffic back to your website for the reason we mentioned before. When you meet someone, they check you out on Google and check you out on the web. But also when you give your business card, it should have your website on it so they have a quick way, easy way of checking you out. Right. And then the online side of things, I mean obviously the website is a key component to their social media.

BM: 18:36 There's online ads either through Google or Facebook or Instagram or you know, whichever platform. There's SEO, so search engine optimization. There's different tweaks and things you can do on the website to be found more easily. The blogging, video, blogging, there's newsletters, webinars, email marketing, Google my business. There's a lot of things on the online marketing side and the online and offline kind of feed each other. Right. I mentioned the offline you want to drive people online and your online presence should hopefully generate leads for you that you get to go and meet with the people in person. And I know a lot of a bookkeeping gets done remotely, so does the digital marketing business. But I always like to meet with clients at least once in the beginning to, you know, get to know the person, establish the rapport and then periodically having, you know, you know, regular touch points with the client also is good.

MP: 19:34 So online and offline promotion work hand in hand in my, uh, in my opinion. I agree. I agree. And it makes a lot of sense. There's all these things that we're doing in the more that we do them, the, the traditional offline activities, networking, any kind of promotion, but it all has to come back to the website. The website is a key place and we want to make sure we get the, the purposes right. We have the persuasion right. It's been figured out so that people are going to continue forward in the next and the next bit. So we've covered purpose, promotion and persuasion. What's the fourth?

BM: So we're at the productivity stage. So with persuasion, uh, you know, you have your points of difference that have been highlighted. You have your calls to action. Hopefully they filled out that form for your newsletter. You the contact us form.

BM: 20:24 Now that you have the information that becomes a lead, that is building the sales funnel you were talking about earlier and that's where you're trying to convert those leads into actual customers, right? Do you want to create a wow factor? Um, you know, they've taken the step to contact you. So now you need to, um, a way to still show the value that bring and um, something like email marketing is a very effective tool of that, right? Cause you can set triggers, you can set automated responses. When people contact you, you can send them information on your products and services. Uh, you can just send them maybe case studies or testimonials or you know, reviews from different platforms. And then again, that still helps to gain the trust, build your credibility, build your authority in, you know, as the expert in what you're doing. This is the, the phase where things happen, right? We know from sales training, but typically it takes five to 12 touchpoints with someone before the actual can actually become a client. Right? So all these touchpoints you do with the online and offline promotion, all the little bits with the, the, the persuasion side and now all your emails or phone calls, all that all contribute to those multiple touchpoints in order to help you convert those leads into a client.

MP: 21:58 You know, it's remarkable what can be done with automation as well. And you spoke a little bit about that when you said to avoid the, the email followups. And I like to say I, I like to say that this is, is a bit of an advanced move. I mean if you don't have a website that's like, and you haven't optimized that in a way that we've been talking about today and it's definitely a place to start, but then it's pretty exciting. What can be done with a little bit of automation where, okay, someone's contacted you and you send them some information and, and you know, maybe you're going to nurture them a little bit with a few emails that are valuable to them. Tell us a little bit about that because it is a bit advanced and you know, this is probably an area that I would assert not many of our listeners have. They probably thought about it or maybe heard about it, but have not taken the steps down that road. Tell us a little bit about that.

BM: 22:47 That's a very good point, right? The, the nurturing aspect, you know, going back to the, the touchpoints, cause even when someone is a client, you still want to keep them happy, right? Seven out of 10 people who leave you or leave your business will do so because they perceive that you don't care. Right? So a way to show that you care is to provide, you know, valuables and information, timely information or just some general knowledge about, you know, the industry, whatever is of interest to, to your target client. Right? And that a continuous nurturing is the fifth p, which is persistence and Nielsen productivity leads into persistence. And that's where you're not only building the relationship with the client but maintaining it and enhancing it over time. It's about, you know, generating repeat business for, uh, your business and you hopefully increasing the spending that your clients have with you.

BM: 23:49 Your clients can also be a great source of referrals, right? So you can automate some of the communications with the client. You know, you could have some seasonal information around your tax time, around, you know, the income tax filing things, uh, things like that. Uh, it could be some PR promotion that you're offering or you can ask for referrals or asking for reviews. And you mentioned earlier that social proof, you're looking at the reviews when you're not sure, you're comparing two different people, two different businesses that look sort of similar. Look, you know, pretty good. But one has, you know, 200 great reviews and one has five great reviews. You're skewed a bit on, on one side as opposed to the other, right? If you have a newsletter, you share that with the people. That's a great way to stay top of mind. You know, just a regular blog.

BM: 24:36 A simple blog doesn't have to be a very extensive, but it just shows that you're thinking of them. You Care, you share, right? Um, triggers also can be done automatically on the either anniversary and you know, the like you've been a client one year, two years, three years. You could do that also on their birthdays. You can send a welcome a series of emails you get, you can do surveys, feedback. How did we do, you can ask surveys on what are the top three challenges you face in your business? And then that gives you food to create blogs, new pages, newsletter content. So there's a lot of things that can be automated there in terms of the relationship that touchpoints and keeping the clients engage with your business or time.

MP: 25:23 MMM. Wonderful. Now there's a lot to that and that would be probably one of the areas I would assert people start reaching out to you to get help with something like that. Um, any favorites in terms of the way, because you would need some sort of a CRM or some sort of a tool that would facilitate the sending of these emails and that sort of thing. What are some of your favorites?

BM: 25:49 Uh, well our company bloom tools, we have, um, created our own platform, our own content management to assist them that we design in the, develop the websites on. We also have our own email marketing and our own CRM programs. So we use the tools that we've developed internally. And I know there's a lot of, a different tools out there for both email marketing and a CRM that a, a lot of people use and have been getting great success with. Right.

MP: 26:19 Very good. So I was, that's interesting. So you've developed your own suite of products to help small business with this. What, what was that journey like?

BM: 26:30 Well, the, uh, the journey, so the company's been around since 2004, uh, and it actually started in Australia. So this, a really smart kid in university started doing a websites for businesses. And you notice that no, he was kind of repeating or recreating the same coding, similar kinds of, of, uh, of coding and programming for the different websites. So he said, you know what, it makes sense if we had our own platform and there were third party platforms available at that point, but to, he undertook the, the challenge of creating the platform, um, on his own. So we put a team together and uh, so the company's been in business for 15 years, which, you know, an intranet time means it's like forever. Um, and we've moved into Canada about five years ago. We have Canada clients in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and we have a few in the u s as well.

MP: 27:30 Very interesting and very, very exciting. And so, you know, if our listener is listening right now, they may not have a website. So that's step one, right? It's a, is to, to take on starting that they may have a website that they've just, someone put it up or they put it up themselves and they've did it in a silo and perhaps it could use some optimization. And then there's, and then there's the third level, which is habit. It's working somewhat and, and there's an opportunity to optimize what they've done and make it more productive. Move into that, uh, persistence and PR productivity levels. Uh, which were, uh, the fourth and fifth concept. What would you say for, for those three groups, best starting places?

BM: 28:22 Ah, best starting places in terms of what specifically? So for the person who doesn't have a website, right, what's the starting point for where to go? Yeah, well, you know, obviously if you, you know, know a web consultant like myself and like many others out there, and that's a good way to, to, to get the dialogue going. You can always do research online. There's a number of, of companies that do provide, uh, a web foundation. You know, you see the ad sometimes on late night TV, you know, Wix, Weebly have go daddy, you have, you know, wordpresses as the big ones. So I, I do a little bit of Google search to find out what, you know, what's available, what works for you, look at your budget also, right? Your budget can determine, you know, what you're going afford, how big you want to make it, how complex or how simple. And that's where a consultant can help guide you. It's like, okay, you know, you want the full a full bells and whistles or you just want a basic information website, right? So the consultant can guide you and um, usually your local board of trade or chamber of Commerce, there be a number of digital marketers or website developers that are available. So we just have a chat with one of them and you know, get the, pick their brains, see what a, would they recommend.

MP: 29:40 Beautiful. That, well, it sounds

MP: 29:42 like a great step for whatever stage they're at is to get some help to do some more research. This has been great. I think a lot of my biggest takeaway is that a, our listener really should be looking at where they're at with their website and putting a little bit of energy and investment into that because it will return to the business. If it's done correctly. It will help you be better at converting people you meet at networking events. It will help find new customers that you don't even know exist today and as well be a tool or resource potentially for existing clients that are at, that are working with you. So I think all of it is very worthwhile to, to be taking a look at. And Ben, while it's been great having you, I want to make sure that people can find you.

MP: 30:26 So what would be the best way if they were like, hey we like this, I'd like to learn more about you. What would be the best route to do that?

BM: 30:44 Uh, best route would be email and a second best route would be my website.

MP: 30:53 Beautiful. And so is bloom tools, Mississauga dot. Ca. Would that be the best link for them?

BM: 31:03 That is the correct link for the website. Absolutely.

MP: 31:07 Excellent. More of course. Have those in the, in our show notes and if you'd like you can, you can give your email as well. We can put those in the show notes for you as well.

BM: 31:19 Okay. That's excellent.

MP: 31:21 Beautiful. Well thank you again and for our listener, I challenge you to take a look at your website. Make some stuff happen and take these great tips and resources from Benoit Mercier and make it make money for you and your business.

BM: 31:45 Thank you, Michael. Thank you for the listeners and good luck in business for everyone out there.

MP: 31:55 And with that, we wrap another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's wonderful guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time, goodbye.