'People don’t buy from business, people buy from people’
Managing a website can be an overwhelming task for many small business owners. Knowing how to position a website, what should be included and where it should go can be a confusing issue. It is often the case that a business owner with no design or technical skills will be directing a design agency on how a site functions and this means that quite often businesses end up with beautifully designed websites that fail as a business tool because they are all style and no substance.
Getting a few small details right from the beginning can make all the difference to how a website performs and so here are our top 8 website marketing tips for small business owners to consider when planning their website.
What are you trying to achieve/What is the purposeBefore you implement any changes or design instructions, make sure that you have clear in your mind the primary purpose of the website. Do you want to sell products from your website, increase offline telephone enquiries or collect email addresses? Without knowing what it is you want your website to do you will not be able to make the right design decisions.
Call to actionsHaving made sure that you have communicated the purpose of the website to your designer, have you made sure it will be communicated to your web visitors? Have you placed clear instructions on every page (Call to Actions) of what action it is you want your visitor to perform? There are a great many websites out there that have failed to provide clear simple contact instructions and it is vital that you don’t make the same mistake. Place your call to actions in prominent places such as the header or sidebar of your pages.
Google LocalIf you are a small business owner then the assumption is that you operate within a fixed geographical location. Google has a fantastic search directory called Google local that acts a little like an online business directory. If you search for ‘accountants in Swindon’ then those businesses that have registered with Google as a Swindon accountant will appear in the typical search results. Google has made it very difficult to trick this system and so only relevant ‘local’ businesses will be displayed and so if your business relies on local business, make sure you have registered.
Check the competitionNo doubt when designing your website you have other people’s websites in mind for design ideas that you do or don’t like. This is good practice, but delving a little deeper and researching the websites of your competitors can be very constructive. If you know of a particularly well performing competitor website then identifying and replicating what it is that is making them successful is a must, as is what is working against poor performing sites.
Content content contentSearch engines like to see fresh content on your websites, but more importantly, so do your visitors. Fresh content signifies a form of momentum and vitality and so stagnant, never updated or changing information can make a website appear as if it is no longer in use. Most if not all visitors will move on if they think the information on your website is out of date or stagnant.
Blog onA great way of providing fresh content is in the form of blogs. Even more important is the old saying that people don’t buy from business, people buy from people’. This is absolutely true in the digital world and by publishing a blog on your website you are giving visitor the opportunity to get to know you and decide whether they want to buy from you. It gives you opportunity to put a face and personality to your business.
OptimiseThere is a great difference between web designers and digital marketers. A designer will make you a beautiful site to look at and interact with but it may well never be seen because typical internet users can’t find it. Digital marketers make sure that websites are searchable by optimising websites for search. Make sure that when your site is being built that it will be fully optimised. If not then you may well face additional costs later on down the line.
Analytics and measurementAssuming that you have all of the above tips in place, measuring what is and isn’t working is key to the performance of a successful website. There are a great many free analytics packages available that not measuring your website traffic is foolish. Google’s own analytics package is arguably the most commonly used and provides business owners with incredibly valuable information that can drill right down and analyse what it is that does or doesn’t influence your visitors into becoming clients.
By Jon Perkins of Peppermint Solutions - a web design and marketing company based in Gloucestershire.