A website is the most important marketing tool for your business. Fortunately it is much easier to establish a web presence than it used to be.
A few years back, many smaller businesses were put off from setting up a website because it was too technical (and expensive), and once a website was created, they were at the mercy of their tech guy because he was the only one that could make changes or updates to the site.
Things have changed. Creating websites are much more straightforward these days, and because of the way that they are built, anybody with even the most basic tech knowledge can make changes and additions to a website in a matter of minutes.
What Kind of Site is Best for Your Business?
While you could run an online business using nothing but social media, having a website is such an essential starting point.
The aim of all your online marketing such as social media activities, is to drive people to your website. Your website is the hub of all your online marketing activities. Not only do you direct people to your website, but you also use your website as a springboard to all of your other online activities on the Internet, such as your company blog and social media.
The other point of your website is to sell your products and services. Once you have gone to the trouble of getting people to your site, you want to sell your products and services. Make your website your online point of sale.
But what kind of website would be best for your business? Your market, your business and its needs will determine what kind of website you will need. Some options include:
A brochure website: Websites used to be boring. They tended to be static collections of pages that were published online, very much like an online version of a business brochure. Nowadays, visitors expect so much more from our websites than an uploaded brochure page. They expect dynamic, ever-changing content. A brochure site will establish a web presence for you, but it is not going to get you many leads as a dynamic website.
A blog: A blog is really just a special kind of website that you can update yourself, not just posts that are regularly updated, but pages that are more static. This means that you can use blogging software such as WordPress as a content management system (CMS) to build an entire website such as About Us, FAQ’s, Products and Contact pages.
An e-commerce site: This is a website that is set up to sell products and take payments online. It is no longer necessary to invest a small fortune in creating bespoke e-commerce sites with your own shopping cart function coded from scratch. There are lots of e-commerce software options that you can use on your site, and most CMS have ecommerce plugins available. Accepting payments is so much easier too. It is now acceptable for any business to use PayPal to take payments on their website without looking unprofessional. Most global businesses accept PayPal payments. You can even sell your products through an eBay or Amazon store that you link to from your website.
Why a website is essential for business
As we stressed earlier, a website is the most important marketing tool for your business. An online presence is a minimum requirement if you want to present a professional image, reach new customers and increase profits. A website:
- Is a ‘store window’ that works for you 24 hours a day.
- Enables you to reach a global market.
- Promotes your products and services
- Gives your credibility
- Offers online support to your customers (which can save you time).
- Provides a way for people to contact you.
Your clients and customers expect you to be online. How many times have people asked your for your website address, or said that they will Google you? If you are not online, your business does not exist and they will go to your competition who does have a website instead.
So with that being said, let’s consider some very important rules when it comes to creating your website.
Website Dos and Don’ts
- Do create a navigation bar to make it easy for your clients to find the information that they need on your site. List your content by theme and importance to your client. Don’t make your visitors have to wade through pages of your site in order to find what they want.
- Do use easy to read and simple colours and fonts. Again, if your visitors can’t read the information on your site they will leave and visit your competitor instead.
- Do invest in creating a professional, secure site for your business. Your website is the storefront window for your business, so you want it too look as professional and good as possible. Not only that, but you also want it be secure to prevent people hacking into your site and sabotaging your business.
- Do keep it simple. If you have too much content, page copy or too many calls to action on your site, it will simply overwhelm your prospects and they won’t buy from you. They will go to the site of your competitors instead who have invested in a simple, easy to read site.
- Do make it possible to contact you easily from your homepage. You want to make it as easy as possible for clients to contact you if they have a query relating to your product or service. You will lose business if you don’t include this information.
- Do aim for at least 250 words of text per page, with keywords included and 1-3 aspirational images. This will make it easier for Google to send targeted traffic to your site. Google loves content and rewards sites that are informative and help clients to find the exact information they want.
- Do use Google Adwords tool to determine the strategic keywords for your site SEO and copy. It will help you to create a site that your customers want and give them the information that they are looking for.
- Do create a mobile and tablet friendly site, and test to make sure they are easy to navigate and visitors can contact you from the devices. Most people now use mobile devices to go online rather than their desktop computers.
- Do add your social buttons and link to your business blog to grow your brand awareness and generate fresh content on your site. As we mentioned earlier, your website is the hub of all of your online activities.
- Do add your business reviews to your website homepage. Potential customers like to know what previous clients had to say about your services and they serve as online testimonials. Statistics repeatedly show just how much testimonials and reviews influence your visitor’s decision to buy or not.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of a strong, easy to navigate site for generating more inquiries. Your visitors only have a short attention span. If they can’t find what they are looking for, they will abandon your site in a heartbeat and buy from somebody else instead.
- Don’t publish irrelevant content including too many links, or have videos on auto-play or confuse your visitors with distracting external ads. You have worked hard for any traffic you have, so you don’t want to put them off as soon as they arrive or get them clicking off your site to some other site instead.
- Don’t bury or over complicate your contact form. It is one of the most important sections on your site. You want to encourage visitors to contact you. If they don’t know how, they won’t bother trying to search for the information and will leave.
- Don’t make it hard for a prospect to find what they are looking for or they will leave within seconds. We can’t stress this enough. We think the message is getting through loud and clear.
- Don’t use too many colours and distracting or hard to read fonts. If you have ever squinted trying to read yellow text on a white background you will know exactly why you need to keep things simple. Don’t make your visitors guess what your message is.
- Don’t include too much copy or images on each page. This will overwhelm your visitor and they will leave. Your site should be clean and easy to read with strong calls to action. Don’t put your visitors off by overwhelming them with too much information.
- Don’t underestimate the power of strong SEO. This is what will help your site to be found by 80% of your new customers in the search engines.
- Don’t forget to test what your website looks like from mobile devices, tablets and across several Internet browsers. What might look nice and tidy on your device may look dreadful on another browser. You need to make sure that all of your customers see they same, great design.
- Don’t miss out on fresh content. Social media sites and blogs are updated frequently and adding these links will help your site get crawled by search engines more often. It makes life so much easier.
- Don’t exclude past client testimonials from your site – 72% of consumers trust online recommendations as much as personal ones. Remember to add any positive comment or review on your website. It will help convert visitors into buyers.
Outsourcing It All
Your online business will be much more successful if you follow those rules. However, if it all looks too daunting or you simply don’t have time to do it yourself, please contact us today because we help many businesses just like yours.
Many businesses have decided that it makes much better business sense to allow a specialist company like ours to grow their online businesses than to try and do it all themselves, particularly if they have are already running an offline bricks and mortar business too.