If someone asks you “Do you have a website?” it’s great to be able to say “Yes we do!” but simply having a website is no longer good enough. If all you have is basically what I call a ‘brochure in a digital format’ – hours, location, ‘about us’ info, contact details – you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Anyone can build their own website for free with a template, but how effective will that website be?
When I tell people I am a web developer, many people say “I already have a website” but when I ask them if they get new customers from their website, far too often the answer is “no” or “not often”.
First off, why do people go to websites? People surf the web to find answers to their questions, to save time, to interact, and to get information that will help them to make decisions without having to talk to a potentially pushy sales rep.
Knowing what people are looking for in a website, we can see it’s more than just store hours and basic contact details. Nowadays, your website needs to engage people, and it really needs to act like a helpful and friendly salesperson for your company: represents you as the professional and charming face of your business, helps you to stand out among competitors, attracts business, educates and impresses potential customers, brings in revenue.
Ask yourself these questions about your website:
1) Does it reflect the calibre of my business? If someone was to make a judgement about my offline presence based on my website, would they be making a positive assumption?
Too many companies put up a website as an afterthought with whatever budget is left after investing in what they see as the face of their business. In fact, your website is now the face of your business – the one most people see first! If they don’t like your website they’ll never get a chance to see how nice the furniture is in your office or that product display area you just spent hours on.
2) Does my website engage people? Does it have what my potential customers are looking for in an easy to navigate format?
3) Have I used visuals to the full potential wherever possible instead of explaining everything in text?
Add videos and decent-sized photos to show what your store looks like or to give people an idea of the work you do. If you offer services, why not use an image showing how they will feel after they’ve become one of your clients? How will their life improve as a result of what you have to offer?
4) Is it obvious what I want them to do as a result of visiting my website?
If you are looking to build goodwill and brand awareness that’s one thing, but if you want them to make contact with you or come in to visit your physical location some call to action is needed.
5) Can my site visitors clearly see the “What’s in it for me” of being on my website?
Give site visitors a reason to sign up for an eNewsletter (free tips for example) so they will see you as an expert (and a generous one at that!) and you can stay in touch with them. Advertise what you can offer to get them started such as a free consultation or free samples. If you can make your site all about your site visitors so that they think to themselves “Wow, they’re speaking right to me! They must have known I was coming!” then you’ll definitely reap the rewards of having a stellar online presence.
6) Last but NOT least: Can anyone FIND my website? Am I coming up in the search results when people search for subjects related to what I do (not just my business name)?
Search Engine Optimization can be the difference between a website that makes it necessary for you to hire more staff to handle the influx of new business and a company that fails to get off the ground.