It’s 2016 and it’s still unbelievable how few business owners realise what a well constructed business website can do for their business.
Or how it can be their most cost effective marketing tool if they would just take full advantage of the opportunities an online presence can offer.
Sad to say, even fewer small mom & pop type businesses are aware of what a good website can do for their business and fewer still seem to have the confidence to put their business on a global platform.
Websites are the most affordable and most under-utilised marketing tool available to small business owners.
They just have to make sure they know the keys to building a successful and effective online presence.
- Maintain Control of Your Web Presence at All Times
- Use Google and all it offers
- Use Facebook and Google+ to Connect with potential customers
- Build a following and encourage fans to interact by offering internet only incentives
- Always ask your website visitors to do something on your website
- Provide unique insights, great value and excellent customer service
- Analyse Your Data. Work out what works and then make it better
The observant among us will notice that not one of the above points mentions anything about building a glitzy website full of wonderful images, sales videos and the latest gadgets and widgets.
No, the keys to successful websites for business owners have nothing to do with presentation, even though good clean presentation and simple clear navigation are essential.
Building a business website that will attract paying customers is about The Business, The Management, The Product and The Service.
All the flash banners in the world won’t help if your business uses a crappy business model; the management is not committed; the product is inferior or the service is bad. Fail at any one of these four business aspects and you will fail online as surely as you will fail offline.
CONTROL : First & foremost, ensure YOU control your website & ebusiness
The easiest way to maintain control of your website is by utilising a content management system (CMS).
This is simply web-based software that lets you manage, update and add content to your website. It gives you the power to do things like add new products, upload photos, change descriptions, amend special offers and more.
WordPress is the most popular CMS but there are many others.
Whether you Do-It-Yourself (not recommended) or engage a professional Website Designer (recommended) you must ensure that you are in control of your business website.
To relinquish control is to give away control of your online business presence and that does not make good sound business sense.
GOOGLE : Your online business needs them more than they need you
No matter what you might think of powerful, monopolising multi-nationals, Google is king of the hill when it comes to the internet and your online business presence needs Google more than Google needs your business.
However as monopolising multi-nationals go, Google is a much better friend to small local business than most. Not only do they offer excellent business software, email and a multitude of other free resources, they are also your biggest single source of potential customers.
So, work with Google not against them.
Help Google promote your business presence by ensuring your website is optimised in such a way that Google spiders can read it and understand what it’s offering.
The better you structure and optimise your content the easier it will be for Google to index it properly and provide it to Google users who are searching for what you have to offer.
Use Google places and ensure you have a business listing within Google that details your head office and any local branches. Google local search will prioritise local business offerings.
SOCIAL MEDIA : Show people that you are who you say you are.
It’s here, it’s big and no matter what you think of it, it’s a great source of potential customers.
The only problem is, you have to interact and encourage those customers by showing them you are who you say you are and that you offer a more personal service and better products than the High street chain.
How do you do that? … You share your insights, your opinions, your expertise in your industry and the benefits your product provides. It’s a powerful way to pre-sell and when interested followers visit your sales page they are ready to buy.
- It’s educational marketing and teaching potential clients how to use your products before they buy your products
- It’s demonstrating solutions to their problems using your products and services.
In short, social media provides a platform for you to show why you’re good at what you do, and what you offer is the best.
And you use your website as a central hub for all those ways of connecting with your customers and potential customers.
Once you’ve made a connection, make sure you maintain that relationship, because satisfied customers come back.
CONTENT : Without content you have no internet presence
Unique content is the backbone of your internet presence.
Insightful and unique content is what gives Google’s tools the ability to work out what you offer and why they should promote your website to searchers looking for what you offer.
Content has to be text based as Google is a text based index. Forget Flash, Google can’t read it, and always provide text narrations for video content.
Make your content interesting by including examples of how existing customers use your products or service and not just a technical description of your gadget.
Include photos and videos and share them in your social media accounts. And most important of all, add new content every single week. New products, special offers, testimonials, customer reviews, announcements and anything else you can think of. Add it, promote it and make it interesting.
It’s the truth … without good quality unique content, you have no internet presence.
ADVERTISING : Paid advertising or organic traffic?
Free organic search traffic is what you want and optimising your business website for Google will get you this … eventually.
It will take time, quite a long time as Google has to learn to trust you; and if Google promotes your website to its loyal users it has to trust that your website will be there, offering what they are searching for, when Google sends them.
So, Google will give you a little boost, a little exposure at first; but then it will ignore your site and leave it up to you to build a following and some interest. The quicker you do this, the quicker you learn how to get the online word out, then the quicker Google will trust you are in it for the long haul.
Paid advertising can help, using Google Adwords can help, using Facebook Ads can help a little, but unless you have a marketing plan that shows a good return on investment (ROI), paid advertising is a short term expensive solution.
Only active, consistent content creation will bring all that free organic traffic. And, when it comes it comes like a snowball running downhill. When Google and the other search engines trust you are who you say you are and you are offering what you say you are offering, then they will send visitors who want what you have to offer.
ACTION : What are you asking your visitors to do?
If your business website has no call to action then what’s it for?
If there’s no call to action then your site is just a business card with no telephone number and it won’t help your business. Make sure your website asks your visitors to do something.
Work out your Most Wanted Response.
- If you want visitors to call your sales office make sure you ask them to
- If you want to send them your special offers or newsletter make sure you ask them for their email address
- If you want them to make sales appointments or you want to call them at their convenience make sure you provide a form that let’s them arrange this … easily
- If you want them to review your products or service then provide a system that let’s them do so
- If you want to sell your products or services then use eCommerce and setup a retail website that sells
And if you don’t know what your Most Wanted Response is yet … Don’t build your business website until you do.
You must define your MWR before you begin your business website journey. Your MWR affects every aspect of how your business website will work and how it should look. Even the tone of your writing voice will depend on the response you want.
ANALYTICS : Who is using your business website?
As with any important business function you need to analyse your online performance and how well your business website is working. To do this you again turn to Google and its free Google Analytics software.
Google Analytics provides a measure of every metric you could possibly require. At the base level it let’s you know how many visitors come to your website each day, week, month or year and where they come from.
Beyond that it provides valuable statistical information on how your content affects your visitors, what ISP they are using, whether they view using mobile phones, iPads or desktop computers and which sections of your business website they look at and for how long.
Knowing which page on your website new visitors come to first and which page visitors leave the most can help you adjust, improve and optimise your content to keep them with you longer or expose them to new offers and content.
Analysing your business websites performance is no different and no less important than analysing the performance of your sales team.
The feedback and information you gain from the various demographics and metrics should be looked at, queried and understood in order that your business can benefit from your investment in both time and money.
Business Websites can be the best and most affordable marketing tool at your disposal, if you just take the time to understand the keys to successful websites for business owners.
It’s not about glitz and glamour, flashy logos or magic tricks. It’s about consistency, about adding value for your potential customer, about enhancing your business reputation and making sure you work with the people and systems that can grow your business with you.