The majority of startups and small business owners recognise the power of digital marketing and that having a website is a must have.
With limited funds and marketing budgets, the majority of small business owners tend to buy their website from a creative agency or designer that does everything.
However, as Tim Butler, founder of Innovation Visual explains, this might not be the best course to take.
The problem with choosing such an agency to design and build a website is that they tend to approach it on the basis of the prettier they make it look the better it will be. They forget that the purpose of a website is to generate leads, or in the case of eCommerce, sell online.
The starting point of designing and building a website should be how to maximise the sales results for your business.
9 Ways to transform your website performance
Fortunately, if you have a good looking website, but one that doesn’t deliver the business results you need, there are a number of things that you can do to transform the performance of your business online.
You can do the majority of these things yourself. Some you may need your developer to help you, depending on your technical knowledge. You certainly do not need to invest in an expensive redesign to change your websites fortunes!
Here are 9 of the best and fastest ways to improve the performance of your website;
1. Know & use your website data
How many unique visitors does your website attract every month? How many sales leads does it generate?
You wouldn’t make decisions about your business without understanding your profit and loss numbers, so why would you make decisions on your website without knowing its numbers.
Digital marketing, unlike most other marketing mediums, allows you to directly track performance of your activities and the results you generate. You need to know these numbers.
The first step is to make sure your numbers are accurate. Use the free Google Analytics tracking if your developer hasn’t set it up already, and crucially add at least one filtered view that removes traffic from your own office and home.
If you only sell in your local area or the UK, also set up a filter that shows only traffic from the UK.
Keep the default ‘All Data’ view as a benchmark. You are doing this because you only want to see the people that are relevant to your business and make decisions based on their behaviour.
Second step is to make sure you are tracking when people submit an enquiry to you. This is called goal tracking. You need to track all of the following:
- Completion of contact form(s)
- Sales completions, if it is an ecommerce site
- Completion of newsletter sign ups
- Clicking on your email addresses on the site
- Clicking on the phone number on the site
The last one often gets forgotten but with 50% of all website traffic coming from mobile phones people will often click on the phone number shown on a website to call the company.
With accurate data and all of these goals being tracked your marketing objectives can now be properly measured and reported on. For most businesses your two primary goals for your website will be to:
- Maximise the number of goal completions
- Minimise the cost per goal completion.
2. Get your website found
Now you have an accurate view of your website data, how many relevant people are finding your website?
If most of your traffic is coming from the source ‘Direct’ then these people already know your website address.
If you want to grow then you want your website to attract new customers to your business. The way to do this is appear in search engine results when people are looking for information on products and/or services that you provide.
64% of ALL website visits start at a search engine, so this is important, but search engine optimisation (SEO) is not an overnight solution.
You need to make sure that Google likes your site technically, that it likes your content and that it thinks the rest of the internet likes your website too.
These three areas can be talked about in detail, but the basics are as follows:
Google wants your website to be mobile friendly (according to its standards), work over the encrypted HTTPS standard (do you have a green padlock in the address bar?), and not have issues like broken links or no sitemap.
Google wants the content to be unique, cover your subject area in depth, be clearly structured with good headings and be regularly updated.
What the Internet thinks of you
Google wants to see other, relevant and quality websites linking to you, using keywords that relate to what you do and that people are mentioning your business, brands and website in social media.
SEO can be a hugely complex area, but the principle is very simple. Google & Bing just want to give the searcher the best possible webpage that will answer their query. That’s it.
So if you aim to build the best webpages / website for your subject area then you will be on the right track to get good organic search traffic to your site.
If you are thinking of outsourcing your SEO, make sure you ask these questions before you hire an SEO agency.
Quick things you can check and change if necessary:
- Make sure you have what you want to be found for in your main headings
- Ensure that your meta titles and descriptions are well written and again contain the phrases you want to be found for
- Change generic titles like ‘Services’ to specific titles, for example ‘what we do services’
- Ask your suppliers and customers for links from their website
- Make sure that your Yell, Thomson and Google Business Page all link to your website.
Google offers some other very useful tools to help you succeed online, for more about these, read; How to harness the power of Google for your business.
3. Pay for website visitors
Don’t have the time or patience to wait for the organic search traffic to come flooding to your site? Then you can pay to get those searchers to come to your site through Google AdWords & Bing AdCenter.
You only pay for people that actually click on your ads and therefore go to your website.
This is by far the fastest way to drive relevant prospects to your website, but beware. You must use these powerful tools carefully. You can spend a lot of money very quickly without achieving any results by not having carefully targeted campaigns.
If you are not prepared to learn how to use the tools then pay a specialist agency to create and manage the campaigns for you.
A good agency will charge you for set up and on-going management, but it’s a worthwhile investment, as they will make your money go further.
4. Make your content current
Has your website got a news section or blog? What was the date of the last post or article? Last month? 3 months? 6 months? More than a year?
No new content for months says to your potential customers that you have nothing interesting to say and that your business is going nowhere. The solution is not to remove the news or blog section if ‘you don’t have time’, that’s the worst option.
Blogging can be very powerful, so allocate 20-30 minutes two mornings a week before you look at your emails to write a blog post. Use any questions that customers or potential customer asked you the previous day as your titles.
It is likely that if they were asking that question other potential customers would ask the same thing of Google.
Once you have written these blogs let people know they are there by posting links to them on your social media accounts with enticing messages about why people should read them.
5. Provide information for customers throughout their buying journey
Don’t assume that when someone arrives at your website they are ready to buy X and all the website needs to do is convince them to buy your X rather than a competitors.
That is a naïve view of the buyer’s journey, which starts with the buyer deciding whether or not they even have a need.
If your website can help buyers with good information at all points during the decision making process then it will deliver more sales / leads.
Brainstorm what your buyers might be thinking at different stages and how they will consider their options (remember not buying anything is always an option).
Look at how those questions within the buying journey can be answered by both your main product / service information pages and by blogs.
Look at the pages and ensure that you have links between relevant pages with this information, so that you can create conversion channels in your website.
6. Help don’t sell
This follows on from providing information throughout the buyer’s journey. Don’t fall into the trap on your website of just being a brochure about how great your business is; that’s not helpful.
People want answers and in a time-poor economy they want to get to those answers fast, not wade through paragraphs of marketing fluff.
Provide FAQs, how to guides, comparison tables, tips, videos (see below) as they are all helpful and focused on answering the customer questions and not just saying how fantastic you are. The customer is going to think you are fantastic because of all the great content that you are providing.
Building a website that isn’t focused around selling, but instead is focused around helping may seem counter-intuitive from a business viewpoint, but it works.
Give to your customers and you will receive back!
7. Use relevant calls to action
Your website is now focused on helping not selling, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have calls to action. You definitely should.
These need to be appropriate for where people are in the buying journey and your website. Sticking a big “sign up for demo” call to action on the home page slider isn’t going to work well, as people haven’t even explored your site yet.
Go through every page on your site, including all of your blog posts and check if there is a call to action on the page. What is that call to action? Is it appropriate to the content on the page and the point in the buyer’s journey?
You should have different calls to action for different situations. Here are a few examples:
- Sign up for our newsletter – good for people early in the journey who have read through one or more blogs
- Download our data sheet – for people in the product consideration stage
- Get our how to guide – People in the awareness stage
- Book a Demo – for people on your pricing page
You can also have dynamic calls to action using bots if you have access to this technology on your website.
Those chat boxes that pop up when you have been on a website for a while that ask if you have any questions. These are basically calls to action.
The smart ones aren’t even real people, or at least to start with, they are set up with messages to engage with a visitor and once engaged the system alerts you / your marketing team to take over the conversation as a real person. They are very effective, you should give them a try!
8. Give people video
People love video because they can absorb a lot of information quickly and passively. Click play and sit back to watch and learn.
Do you have videos? Are they on your website? Are they on YouTube? Why not, it doesn’t take long and you will generate engagement with your audience.
If you don’t have videos yet then you need to make some. If you don’t have budget for professionally created ones then try video blogs using your webcam or phone.
Promotional videos don’t have to be long, just keep them focused on useful information for the customer.
Use editing software like iMovie or Adobe Premier to put your logo and website at both the start and the end (as you are going to load them on YouTube as well as your website) and edit in stills of what you are talking about as required, such as a product photo or a comparison table.
Make a short video each week on one of those early mornings when you are not writing your blog posts!
9. Keep improving your website
Possibly the most important point of all is the need to keep improving your website. It will never be complete or finished. You need to use the data you have to see;
- Where people are coming from to your website
- What pages they are looking at
- What calls to action they are responding to, and
- What articles they are reading.
This knowledge will then guide your decision making and you will know what traffic sources to focus your marketing efforts on, what pages are important to improve, what calls to action resonate with your audience and what subject areas to keep writing about.
Your competitors are not going to stop working on their website, especially when they see you climbing up the search rankings and taking leads and business they want.
The Internet is a competitive place. You need to keep investing time, effort and money in making it deliver for your business today and into the future.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Tim Butler, founder of Innovation Visual, a digital marketing consultancy specialising in developing your online presence and digital communications. Using the latest techniques in SEO, PPC and online content creation, Innovation Visual works to increase conversion rates, basket values, and return frequency. Tim is a regular contributor to ByteStart, and you can find more of his insight in;
- The Changing Face of Digital Marketing: What small businesses need to know for 2018
- Getting started with Google AdWords – A Step by Step guide for small businesses
- How to harness the power of Google for your business
More on marketing your business
ByteStart is packed with help and advice on marketing your small business and reaching more customers. Try these for starters;
- How start-ups can get the most from digital marketing
- A Practical guide to Content Marketing for small business owners and start-ups
- Turn your ecommerce website into a deadly selling tool with these 5 steps
- Onsite & Offsite SEO: How to optimise your output
- 5 Ways to make your blog content SEO-friendly
- Build your brand, build your business
- 5 Ways you can use emotion to connect with customers and get more from your marketing
- 7 Brilliant branding tips for Start-Ups
- PR Tips for StartUps
- How to use stories to make your business communication memorable
- 10 Top tips for small businesses starting out with social media
- How to use Facebook to grow your small business
- Tweets that get you followed and your business noticed – How to build a loyal following, 140 characters at a time
- Marketing your small business through YouTube – The 4 essential steps to success
- 6 ways to protect your brand and grow your business reputation in a social world