The code that effectively created the world wide web, was put into the public domain by the Cern physics lab, based near Geneva back in 1993.
Its creator, Tim Berners-Lee, believes that the web is still in its infancy. That seems very true – but what a difference it has made to the way businesses market themselves. For someone starting a new business in the 21st Century, it’s hard to work out how firms reached customers efficiently in 1993.
Every business needs a website. And not just for the sake of having one. With a little investment of time and energy you can turn your website into a deadly selling tool, no matter what kind of business you have.
Bytestart has a series of suggestions to help you think differently about your website. And that’s followed with a checklist of five things your website must have.
Think sales sales sales
Too many business owners fail to realise that their website is as much a marketing tool as the brochures they spend thousands on, and must be cared for and measured accordingly. No business would put up with spelling errors and incorrect prices on printed brochures. Yet some let their website fester for years, full of mistakes and broken pages.
When getting a website built and putting systems in place to maintain it, you must treat it as a sales tool. Decide what the objective of the site it before it is built. Do you want to educate prospective customers and get them to pick up the phone? Or perhaps increase your client retention rate by using it as a customer support tool?
Work on it weekly
The biggest website crime is getting one set up and then abandoning it. You must spend time on your website weekly to get the most out of it. It doesn’t have to be long, but an hour a week will make a huge difference. Turn it into a habit by making it a Friday morning job, and keep a checklist of things that need to be changed. For most websites, continual tweaking of content will bring better results than huge “we must change everything” revamp projects.
When you get a website built ensure that you have the ability to update and change pages yourself. Your website company will need to give you a Content Management System (CMS) to do this. It could increase the price of your website build, but will prove most cost effective in the long-term than paying the company every time you want a change (and waiting a couple of days).
The devil’s in the detail
Web companies tend to be good at getting the big things right, such as the number of pages, design, accessibility etc – but really the most important part of a website is the detail. This means ensuring price lists are always 100% up-to-date, you remove or update information as it changes – not three months later – and ensure all contact details are up to date.
If you give free information on your website review it regularly to check it is still correct. You see your website every day and might become complacent with it. But prospective customers are seeing it for the first time every day and will form an opinion on your business from their experience with your website.
The web is a one on one media, meaning you have an individual conversation with one person at a time. Your website must take advantage of this by making it easy for a visitor to interact the way they want to.
If they want to call, give them a phone number (if you run the business part-time get a call answering service to take messages). If they want to email or instant message make it easy. Hell, let them contact you by Facebook if that’s what they prefer. When you force potential customers down one route only (such as having to fill out a form) you could lose leads.
You must be aware of how many people are visiting your website, where they come from, what they do while they’re there, and where they go next. If 50 per cent of people who land on your home page click off, ask yourself why. Are you successfully grabbing their attention in just a few seconds. Don’t pay for this information, Google Analytics is powerful and free.
Improve conversion rates
Once you know what visitors are doing, try some tweaks to see what happens. The key is to test and measure. Do little things, give them a week and then use analytics to see what impact they had.
Websites are quite predictable – if 10 per cent of all people who get to your products page will contact you, then increasing the number of visitors to that page by 1,000 will give you 100 new leads.
5 things your website must have
Finally, here’s a handy Bytestart checklist for the 5 essentials every website must have:
- A great domain name – preferably your business name, but “YourTownCarValeting.com” can also work
- A focus on your customer and their needs, rather than your product or service
- Easy site navigation
- Fresh content added regularly. Free information, articles or a blog are all good
- A way for customers to contact you easily