Small Business Academy

8 Feb

 

2/9/2012

stephaniel

Q: Does a traditional brick and mortar business need a website?

I have been getting this question a lot this week and the answer is YES! Every business must have an online presence and if you are wondering how to create a successful one or the one you currently have is not really generating much business for you, I have 8 essentials tips for you that should get you on track by the end of today. Who knew it could be that easy!

1. Focus On Your Customer

Content should always be developed with customers in mind in a language they understand. It is easy to fall into the trap of writing content that is full of jargon, littered with corporate speak, or worse, it’s all about you and how good you are. The use of jargon, however, may be necessary with a technical audience or in certain specialist industries (e.g. science, engineering).

In general, content needs to be persuasive, credible and engaging. The best way to do this is to answer a simple question most customers quietly ask: “What’s in it for me?” Then write it as if you were explaining to a friend what you do. Abandon corporate speak and strip your message down to plain English – clear, intelligent with personality to boot.

2. Keep It Updated

A website should be seen as a sales channel that needs proper management, constant maintenance and vigilant monitoring, even if you don’t physically sell anything on your website. Research shows that people tend to look up a website before they pick up the phone or visit a store. Your site therefore has the difficult job of convincing prospects or customers to shortlist you as they make an important purchase decision, even before you see or speak to them. So make sure it is always up-to-date, has a strong call-to-action and the contact details are easily accessible.

3. We Like Spiders

At its very basic, search engines operate in a text-based world. When search engine “spiders” (these are robots sent by search engines to your site) drop by to read the content of a website, they look at text. Headings, titles and body copy should contain keywords that are relevant and consistent with the overall website theme. More importantly, content should be unique – not borrowed or copied from other website’s.

4. Easy Web Address To Remember And Spell

There is nothing worse than coming up with a web address nobody can spell. It is best to avoid words that require consultation with a dictionary. If you have a generic name, try to avoid double vowels or consonants (e.g. homeentertainment or weddinggarden). Hyphenated names (e.g. business-cards) can also be problematic because people tend to forget the hyphen. Abbreviations and acronyms (e.g. jsdf.com for Jen Smith Discount Flowers) can also be tricky as it is harder to remember letters than meaningful words unless it is commonly used that way in speech such as SBA (Small Business Association aka. www. SBA.gov.). However, if you must use a name that is potentially problematic, it is a good idea to register different variations including the most common typos and redirect traffic to your main website so you capture as much traffic as possible.

5. Create An Enjoyable Website Experience

Annoying repetitive motion graphic, long blocks of text, wrong color scheme, inconsistent look and feel between pages, poor navigation and slow downloads all contribute to poor website experience and should therefore be avoided. Instead keep it simple and include a welcoming video on your homepage along with a free gift offer if your visitors use your sign-in form. This is a very important way to build your customer “list”. If you use a contact form, make sure it is simple and requires minimum input from visitors. Don’t ask for too much personal data; you’ll scare people away. As a minimum, ask for a full name, phone number, email address and a brief description of the nature of their enquiry. Your contact information is critical and should be easily accessible on every page. I suggest using a “Contact Us” link.

6. Use Key Words As Hyperlinks

If you use “click here” to entice users to follow a desired path through your website, your message is probably not clear enough. People will follow hypertext links if they feel it will take them where they need or want to go. More importantly, hypertext links are like doors with name plates that tell users and search engines what’s inside. Instead of using “click here”, why not use keywords that explain what users (and search engines) will find if they enter via the link? It will help your search engine optimization efforts and keep visitors happy.

7. Offer Opportunities For Customer Feedback

If your website pages are not Facebook and Twitter integrated they need to be as soon as possible. This provide an opportunity to gain valuable customer feed back and creates a since of community with your customer base, both of which are essential to the ultimate success and growth of your business. Invite your visitors to leave a comment, “like”, or “share” at the bottom of each page.

8. Learn To Build Your Own

It is no longer necessary to spend thousands of dollars on building a website, let alone maintaining one. If you are in the market for a redesign, opt for a website with a content management system. You’ll be able to easily update web content (product information, pricing, images, etc) at any time with a click of a button. Microsoft 365 now offers great website building tools at very reasonable prices. If you can click and drag, you can build a professional looking website of your own.

I hope this has inspired and challenged you to update or create a website for your business that generates business and builds a positive brand and image for your company. In the meanwhile I have a parting gift for you. I have just recently released a videos series with tons of information to help you really jump-start your business this year. Just go to AlexzandraD.com and enter you email address. The entire series will be delivered right to your inbox and there is absolutely no charge! You can also leave your comments or questions just under each video. I love hearing from you and it helps me create even more meaningful products and services for you, so keep them coming. Good luck!

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