How are small businesses thinking about their sites now?
A lot of small businesses are in one of the following situations:
- I have had the same Website for the last 5 years and it hasn’t changed much
- I just barely got online with a simple Website from my Web host – it looks okay but not great
- I’m not quite online yet – I use listings my company has on other Websites or directories only
- I have a decent Website but it’s a pain to change so it doesn’t! Most of my stuff is old
- My Website is clunky but it’s not a focus for me
- I’d like to change but am confused by the best route to a new site
What does your Website show about your company? Does it help potential buyers of your products or services?
Let’s face it. A huge part of the research and buying process is now performed online? You may never know it, but many, if not most, of your potential customers have done one of the following:
- Learned about products or services (that you offer) online before trying to find companies to buy from
- Tried to find companies like yours online in order to purchase products or services
- Used a search engine to find information and to locate potential companies to buy from
- Have done some comparison shopping or tried to find out pricing about products or services
- Tried to find your Website after they heard about you from somewhere else (friend, dentist, yellow pages, etc.)
- Looked at your Website before or after meeting you
- Have tried to contact or visit your company based on the information on your Web site
So, how well do you think your Website facilitates the process of someone doing research related to products or services you sell all the way to being able to purchase them? Can they find your site on the search engines? Once they get there, do you help educate them on the products/services and the buying process? Does your site give them a good impression of your company? Is the information you have accurate and up-to-date? Is your message compelling to the type of customers you would like to attract?
Unfortunately small business owners are very busy and that means the Web site is often a necessary evil and doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Is it helping you with the sales process or hindering you?
Your Web site says a lot about your company
Unlike physical store locations, in some ways the Web can be a great equalizer. In the physical world you can’t miss Walmart or BestBuy but online you can develop a very nice Website to rival a multibillion dollar company’s site or you can even outshine it with better content, engagement from your customers or intereting design. The point is, don’t skimp on your Website where you have an opportunity to stand out fairly cost-effectively.
A good Web site can help you communicate the following:
Professionals have all aspects of their acts together. They have a sales process, a delivery process and an issue resolution process. They deliver a solid presentation, dress the part, dot the i’s and cross the t’s. When you meet with them, you get a comfortable feeling that they’re going to take good care of you when you buy from them. Guess what – a nice, clean Web site that is functional, current, has valuable content, pictures and video (where appropriate) communicates professionalism. A 10 year old Website with poor layout, design and content doesn’t.
Personality / Interest
Just because it conveys a professionalism doesn’t mean you can’t also show personality and it can’t have fun or interesting content. You should be able to do both and depending on the type of business, you can dial up or down these two aspects with your Website. Remember that people do want to get to know you and see that you’re real people. Your Website shouldn’t be a wall that blocks out your visitors and makes you as anonymous as possible.
Things are happening!
Current content (articles, pictures, video, blog posts) show that things are happening with your company. Having press releases on recent awards, products and customers wins give people confidence in your company. Keeping your site updated shows that this is a company has a lot going on.
A combination of search engine technology and the desire for people to do research online means that sites with more content typically do better, in terms of search engine ranking, in terms of getting links from other sites and in terms of keeping potential customers on your site. I won’t detail it here but there are very compelling arguments to developing content that educates your potential customers. Your site will do better in the search engines, you will get more traffic and referrals and you will become a perceived expert in your field. This can only be good for you!
People like us!
People have a bit of a herd mentality when it comes to buying. They like to buy from companies that others are buying form. Having testimonials throughout the site says “people like us!” Also, having case studies or press releases about recent projects help people feel comfortable with you.
Worth bookmarking or telling friends about
Providing educational content, interesting information or helpful tools (and updating regularly) will keep people coming back. You’ll get referrals too!
More “cutting edge” than the other guys
To be recognized by your customers as cutting edge doesn’t mean you have to be way out there Twittering and Facebooking away. You only have to be more cutting edge than the next plumber, toy store or local business consultant to be seen in a good light. So, add a blog, social bookmarking links or a Facebook page and experiment!
It’s important (but obviously there are constraints)
I hope by now, you see the value in having a professional-looking site with good content and see the value in updating as much as you can. But there are limits in terms of money you can spend and time you can devote to creating content. My advice is to develop a professional-looking site that is designed to be easy to update and that fits within your budget (don’t penny pinch though!).
For a free, no obligation consultation contact Right Mix Marketing
Tom Treanor is the founder of the Right Mix Marketing blog. He’s the author of the Search Engine Boot Camp, the co-author of Online Business Productivity, and regularly speaks at industry and corporate events. His writing has been featured on the Content Marketing Institute, Social Media Examiner, Copyblogger and other leading industry blogs.