Nothing is easier to neglect than a website.
As business owners, we have a ton of obligations on our plates to deal with. There are employees, for one. While they’re an incredible asset, they can create a lot of work at times with training, managing, and facilitating day to day functions. Then you have accounting and other bookkeeping tasks, team building, inventory, customer service issues, planning and goal setting… all the actual “meat and potatoes” work. That “get stuff done” attitude got you where you are, and that’s a GOOD THING.
I’ve talked with a lot of business owners, and marketing typically tends to stay on their back burner. And that’s marketing in general, let alone, a website. “I don’t get any traffic from my website”, or “It’s good enough for now” tends to be the attitude, and look, I get it. It’s gotten you to where you are today, and that’s fine. But let me pose a question to you:
Would you be happy with your website if you had to look at it every day as you walk through the doors of your business?
See, you might not have to see it every day… but your potential customers do.
Like it or not, your website is the introduction to your business for a lot of customers. And if it is bad, a lot of visitors may have been customers. 91% of people are using search engines to find solutions to their problems. SO YOU BETTER MAKE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION!
I want to challenge you and ask you to look at your website and ask yourself if it reflects who you truly are as a business. Is it engaging? Does it showcase your product or service offerings accurately? Can I find what I’m looking for if I have never been there before? Is there a clear call to action? Do I know what I’m supposed to be doing?
Secondly: Compare your website to a competitor’s. I know this is kind of “keeping up with the Jones’s” but the truth of the matter is, if this potential client has no previous exposure to you and your competition, they’re probably going to choose based off of the experience they get from your website. Think of your website as an introduction to your company and how you interact with your customers. For example: If your website is easy to work with, the perception then becomes that you as a business are easy to work with.
Third: who built your website? Did you hire an agency to do it? Or did your mom’s cousin’s nephew with the crazy eye make it with all the free time he has because he lives “off the grid”? If your answer is closer to the latter, you might have on-site issues that inhibit your future marketing endeavors, especially if you plan to start any advertising campaigns, or social media selling. Take our free web analysis by clicking the green bottom-right button on the screen to check it out.
Unfortunately, too many people think that an agency is just out to build them a flashy website that they don’t actually “need”.
While that can be the case, I look at it the same way you would consider hiring a receptionist. Who are you going to be more apt to hire – The warm, friendly, energetic, helpful person who is competent and able to help any customer that walks through your doors? Or the cheapest person you can find who “works for now”? Just asking questions here.
Your website CAN work for you, and CAN produce leads. Do yourself and your business a favor and hire someone who will do a few of the following things:
- Take time to understand you and your customer. I could spend all day here, but the reality is this; if the freelance designer or agency doesn’t take the time to do an exploration session with you to dig into your ‘WHY” (the reason you started your business) or understand your service offering, then it won’t appropriately represent your brand. If they don’t take the time to dig into the psychology of your customers, then they’re not going to you meet your customers where they are in their buyer’s journey. Your website will be disconnected and largely ineffective.
- Design for the user (UX). So, this kind of goes with the first point, but if you’re selling cross stitching…gear(?)…then don’t build a flashy site with a lot going on and small print. Know the type of people that buy from you, and speak their language. Let’s say that you’ve done your research for your cross stitching supply shop, and found that your most prominent customer segment is a 56 to 68-year-old woman who owns multiple cats, owns collectible china, watches Jeopardy reruns (if only for Trebec), and spends the majority of her time offline (this is completely off the cuff and hypothetical), then make the website for her. Use larger fonts, make your website simple and easy to use. Use some of those preferences you’ve discovered to your advantage when it comes to design. It may not be sexy to you, but your customers will get more out of it, and you’ll have better conversion rates.
- Consider Price. This happens often with my clients. They go in with the mentality that they’re website rebuild is going to cost them a fortune. We present the proposal to them and outline all the costs, and with a sigh of relief they say “well that’s not bad at all”. Honestly, a website doesn’t have to break the bank. Don’t overspend, but don’t underspend. Depending on your needs and the functionality you desire, the cost will vary. Find someone who will talk you through this and find your “sweet spot”.
- Be Clear. There is a saying we use here at SWELL that I’m recently kind of taken with: “No one will ever complain because you made something too easy to understand. Aim to be impossible to misunderstand.” It definitely pertains to many aspects of life, websites included. Don’t make your customers work to figure anything out. Display your mission and vision clearly, and make sure your personality comes out! Display your products or services simply, yet engagingly. Make sure there is a clear call to action. After all, you don’t want them just hanging out on your website all day. You want to motivate them to take the next step and buy from or engage with you.
- Provide Value. Provide your potential clients with something useful, and expect nothing in return. And keep doing it. Blogs, vlogs, downloadables, forums…there are tons of ways to provide your customers with something that they want to keep coming back for, or that will even have an impact on how they make their buying decisions (yes, even if it isn’t with you!). If you do this, you will set yourself apart from the competition. Guaranteed.
- Optimize. Please optimize for search engines. This encompasses everything from copy to the call to action. Make sure you’re optimized (and continually optimizing). Otherwise, no one is going to find you. Consistently produce fresh, original content on your site. Tag your pictures’ and videos’ meta-descriptions accurately. Title all your pages appropriately, and make sure you don’t have any broken links or anchors. Know the keywords you want to be found for and use them in the copy of your site as often as you naturally can. Make sure everything on your site is relevant to your purpose. Make sure your website loads quickly and it’s optimized for all screen sizes (or is responsive).
Use these tips as a guide. It doesn’t stop here, but this will give you a good starting place to begin a dialogue on what you can do to put your best foot forward online.
Tell your story, and tell it boldly. Big box stores and corporate business will come in with price gouging and ad tactics online, but only you have your story and can connect with your customers in a meaningful way. That’s what they want, and that’s what will keep them.