You now have a completed website for your small business and its time to reap the rewards. Well not quite yet, your website is now competing against a million others to be noticed. So here are ten steps anybody can do to make your small business website a success.
1. Great Design
Your website is showcasing your business. How the website looks portrays what the business is like. You may want to portray your business as vibrant, customer orientated and successful and you website should reflect this with lots of colour, images, testimonials and a catchy logo or header.
2. Offline Promotion
Just because your online don’t forget about the real world too. Depending on the function of your website, you will want to direct potential customers and customers alike to your website to inform, remind, persuade or market to maximize your websites value to your business. After all it’s a 24/7 customer service representative of your business.
Some very successful websites heavily promote offline and you should too. Here are a few offline promotion tips:
- Put your website address on everything (business cards, flyers, pamphlets, signage)
- Put the website address as a sticker on your car
- Create stationary with the website address and hand out to local businesses or people in your potential market
- Promote your website is trade publications, newspapers, print media.
- Sponsor local community groups prominently displaying your website address.
- Let all your customers know of your website and its great features.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It is an incredibly powerful marketing tool when done correctly. Essentially SEO allows your website to rank on the first page of search engines (such as Google) for your keywords. This becomes all the more important when you know that 75% of all web traffic comes from search engines. So it seems like an obvious choice, right? Well there are a few issues with SEO especially for small businesses. The cost is substantial usually more than the website itself and this cost is recurring as ranking well requires constant work. The other is finding a company who can actually deliver. As SEO is more art than science results are difficult to guarantee. Having said that if you have the budget for it I would definitely recommend it as from my experience it is without doubt the best investment for any website.
4. Simple Navigation
Ever heard of the KISS principle? Keep It Simple Stupid. Well this applies to your website particularly the navigation. If you have information that is difficult to find or even worse your site is FRUSTRATING to use. You will lose customers faster than the Poms lose the ashes. All great websites have simple navigation that is easy to use and a structure that makes sense.
5. Effective Web Copy
Web Copy is a term referring to how you write the content on your page. More specifically it refers to content relating to making a sale. Great Web Copy is hard to do and even harder to find. The bottom line of any business is either sell or go bankrupt. Great web copy can increase sales or leads from a website as much as 10 times. I would recommend anyone unsure to hire an expert to write their content on their behalf. The money is well worth it.
6. Create Relationships
If you exclude automated sales no person purchases from a business and no business purchases from another business. Somewhere within the transaction there will be a person to person interaction. And people buy off people they like, know or trust. So use your website to create relationships with all your visitors. Have an about me page with images of your self and write the content as if you were talking to someone directly (which is a good web copy technique). Make sure you let the visitors know they are appreciated and that you will look after them.
7. Take it Offline
So if you have created some form of relationship with the visitor you should actively try to take the relationship offline. Doing so will further the relationship, allow you to close the sale, and provide a real customer friendly experience for the customer. Offer to call the potential customer or try to get their phone details and at the very least display prominently your contact details.
8. Don’t Advertise
Some small business owners think a website is a great way to generate extra revenue. Which it is depending on the size of your site, the popularity of your site and also how you make money from it. If however you think you can place a few adds and maybe some Google adsense I am telling you not to. The are several reasons to avoid this common trap:
- You don’t make any money. Generally a few dollars a month isn’t worth the time, space or hassle. You probably cant even withdraw the money you made until you have a minimum amount.
- You are telling your customers that your goods/services are not good enough that you need to advertise other peoples (sometimes competing) goods/services
- You can ruin your design with advertisements that don’t seem to fit.
9. Online Promotion
Whilst SEO is usually the number one source for more visitors some online promotion never hurts. Here are some of the simple and easy ways to promote your site online:
- Google Adwords. Pay for targeted visitors to your site
- Add a link in your signature and participate at relevant forums
- Add your link on comment on relevant blogs
- Purchase banners or advertising space at related sites
- Join affiliate programs
- Contact suppliers websites and ask for a promotion
- Contact non competing but relevant websites and ask if they will promote your site as it may be useful to their visitors.
This is just a simple list of promotion ideas. There are thousands of other ways to promote online just do a google search for more information.
10. Customer, Customer, Customer
It may be your website and it may be your business. But the most important person is the customer. So when designing the site, adding content you must remember who you are doing it for and it is not you. Everything must be aimed at the customer so don’t assume anything. You should explain industry terms that you may understand but the customer may not. You should clearly explain to the customer the steps they need to take to make a purchase. Your contact details should be easily accessible. Where appropriate you should explain the services or products you provide and the processes that occur. This may be common knowledge to yourself but don’t forget your customer may not know anything and a confident customer is more likely to buy.
These steps may not be appropriate to very business type. They are however a good guide and a positive way of thinking about your website and what may be required to be successful.