Website Stuff

How to Make Your Small Business Website Really, Really Effective

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s your website giving your business the traction it needs? If not, what do you have it up for? Isn’t the whole point of it to let the world know of your existence?

Don’t worry. All hope’s not lost. You just need to give it a mini facelift, change a few things about its appearance, sprinkle some awesomeness and voila! Visitors streaming into your small business website will be like putty in your hands.

You’ll be generating leads and sales in no time, but first things first. Here are some website tips you can use to make it really, really effective. Read on.

Your Small Business Website Is the Key to Unlocking Untold Treasures

If you think that having a small business website is all about selling your goods and services then you’re right. But, it has the potential to be so much more!

It’s an avenue to provide something of value to potential customers. Your current customers are great and all, but they won’t really do much to take your business to the next level. For that, you need to tap into the untapped market.

Venture into the great unknown. Explore intergalactic cyberspace and bring home new treasures. Treasures here are brand new customers.

You get the picture, don’t you? If you’re on the fence about it thinking: I’m not sure I want a website for my business, here’s where you’re wrong:

Your Current Customers Expect It – Duh

Think about this for a moment: Would you trust a business that didn’t have a website? Unless you’re living under a rock, the right answer to that question should be a resounding “Absolutely not”!

In today's modern world, customers are digital savvy. The first thing they're likely to do after they hear about your business is to go online and check out your digital presence.

If their search results don’t yield anything, well it’s sayonara. They’re on to the next one.

Everyone Is Looking for Social Proof

Here’s the deal. Don’t underestimate the power of online reviews. Read that again – slowly.

A staggering 95% of consumers say that their decision to buy an item is based on online reviews. It sounds unfair, but hey – that’s the world today.

Rip the band-aid off and sign up your business to Yelp, Foursquare or any other review site. Be prepared for brutally honest feedback though.

Become the Ultimate Influencer

Unless you have the power of mind-control, you can’t influence what others say about you or your business – or can you? Well, you can influence public opinion to some extent.

The best business websites host blogs to control the narrative. It gives the public a chance to get a feel for their personality and what the vision for their business is. It also gets their message out faster than if they were to use traditional methods like print ads or snail mail brochures.

Get More Bang for Your Buck

If you’re spending money designing, printing and handing out thousands of brochures, you might as well toss your precious hard-earned dollars in the bin – which is where most of your brochures will eventually end up. With the right tools, even the most basic websites for small business owners will reach lots more customers than your brochures or print ads ever will.

What’s Good for the Goose

There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel here. The reality is there’s nothing new under the sun. Chances are your business has competitors – folks who are offering the same products and services you are.

Here’s the kicker: They all have company websites. Most of them do anyway. If you want to give your small business a fair shot at success, you better have a website to boot.

When a customer needs something, studies show that the first stop for 72% of them is online. Don’t give your customers a chance to buy from another brand.

24/7 Availability

To reach new customers, you have to be available all the time – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While this may not be possible at your physical store, it is possible if you had an online store.

The shopping bug bites some customers at 3 a.m., while other customers may be geographically dispersed in different time zones. Whatever the case may be, the last thing you want is for them to land on your website to find a “Closed for Business” sign up.

Your Website Will Show up in Search Engine Results

How do you know your business is a big deal? That’s simple. When it shows up among top Google search results. Most consumers do an online search using keywords related to what they’re looking for.

For instance, if they’re looking for cupcakes in LA, they’ll probably enter something like “where to find the best cupcakes in LA”. Without a website for your small business, what are the chances of your website showing up on search engine results? You guessed it - zero to none.

You Get to Showcase Your Products

Having a website gives you a chance to show the world what you’re offering. In addition, you can put up short video tutorials on all the creative ways customers can use your product and how it will improve their lives.

You can also include downloadable PDF instructions to give your customers all the information they need when they land on your website. That way, they won’t have any reason to venture anywhere else. Plus, you get to look like you know what you’re doing.

Tips to Make Your Small Business Website Really Really Effective

Whether you’re building a new website for your business or optimizing an existing one, you have the power to turn it into a potential sales gold mine. According to a report by Godaddy and Redshift Research 83% of small business owners believe that a website gives them a competitive advantage over those without one. Here’s how you can leverage this:

Give It a Professional Appearance

Right off the bat, it’s easy to spot cookie-cutter websites when you see them. You might want to stay away from them. They don’t inspire a lot of confidence when customers see them.

If you don’t know how to create a website for a small business that looks professional, you should definitely consider hiring someone who can. They should have the technical expertise to give your website the professional facelift it deserves to take your small business to the next level.

Content Is King

Cliché as this may sound, captivating content is the heartbeat of any great website. The endless sales pitch has been grossly overdone and is a huge turn-off for any visitor coming to your website for information.

There are lots of creative ways you can use to get the message out without sounding like you’re trying too hard. The fact that a customer is already on your website tells you that they are interested in what you have to offer.

The whole idea is to keep them there long enough to get them to buy something. For instance, say you sell tiles. The traditional approach would be to have a website that has endless picture galleries of tiles and their reference codes listed beneath them.

That’s fine and all, but, what’s next? What sets you apart from the competition? Where’s the value addition?

Here’s how you can approach it. You could start by featuring some video tutorials about how to properly install tiles. You can go a step further by featuring information about the appropriate tiles for particular areas of your home like indoor versus outdoor tiles, swimming pool versus bathroom tiles, and so on.

You could even have some DIY tutorials showing the unique ways people can use tiles aside from the usual flooring or walling solutions. Displaying a few pictures of completed tiling projects you’ve done will also come in handy. Basically, by the time a visitor is done scrolling through your website, the next thing they’re going to do is place an order for your product.

Make It Easy for Your Customers to Reach You

The failure to provide relevant contact information is a cardinal sin for any business. You need to have multiple avenues by which customers visiting your website can reach you.

In addition to having a contact page that’s dedicated to displaying your full contact information, having the information visible on every page of your website is better. The footer section would be your best bet.

Information you should provide includes your physical mailing address, your telephone numbers alongside the hours that customers can reach you for assistance, an e-mail address, and your social handles. You should also consider incorporating a Live Chat function to engage with your customers in real-time.

Online Payment Options Are a Must

Once a customer is interested in buying what you have to offer, the last thing you want to do is lose them at the point of sale. This happens more often than you think.

It could be because of something as simple making the payment process cumbersome and inconveniencing. To avoid this you can start by investing in a credible and reliable shopping cart.

Next, you need to ensure that you can accommodate as many popular payment options as possible. For instance, accepting VISA, MasterCard and American Express is a great place to start.

E-wallets like Paypal, Skrill, and Payoneer also go a long way in making the checkout process convenient for your customers. Nobody in this day and age is going to fuss over printing out a physical form and mailing it with a check.

Make Your Website Secure

Online customers are always wary of security issues when relaying their personal information to a website. It is your responsibility that personal and credit card information provided on your website is kept safe from third parties who may have malicious intent.

Using data encryption technology like SSL prevents third parties from intercepting sensitive customer information. Always display your secure site certificates in prominent locations your website.

With the current data privacy regulations in place, failing to create a privacy policy could impose some heavy penalties on your business. A privacy policy is basically a legal statement that tells people visiting your site how it gathers, uses and manages customer information. It also discloses whether or not the collected data is kept private or shared with third parties.

Have a Lead Generation 404 Page

Nothing puts customers off more than landing the generic “Oops-404-Page-Not-Found” error. You may not be aware of this but 404 pages can easily become the most frequently visited pages on your website.

This could be due to a server experiencing downtime, or if a webpage recently changed location. Occasionally someone may type in the wrong address.

Whatever the case, you can customize the page to infuse a little personality. Include some resource links or offer customers a discount. In short, get creative with it.

Don’t Forget to Integrate Social Media

Companies that have a strong social media presence drive more traffic to their website. The more tweets, Instagram photos and Facebook posts you put up the more traffic your website gets.

This ultimately means ranking higher in search engines. It also adds more legitimacy to your small business website based on the social following you have. So, don’t forget to include those social sharing icons.

Final Thoughts

Creating an engaging small business website can be a time-consuming endeavor. It means strategizing beforehand and being intentional about what you want to achieve with it.

Use the tips you’ve read here to design, develop and optimize your website, and turn leads into revenue. Not sure where to begin? Here’s some complex web stuff explained easily.

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