With 3.8 billion internet users spanning the globe, it’s now essential that small businesses get themselves online. So whether you already have your own website or you’re just starting up, follow our 5 key principles for delivering an effective website.
Your website may be the first touch point a customer has with your business so it needs to represent your organisation and your objectives perfectly. Think of it as a shop window for your products and services – if a potential customer’s first impression is of neglected signage, a broken door handle and sun-faded stock, don’t be surprised if they choose to spend their money elsewhere. Instead:
- Ensure your website has a sleek design and represents your company in a professional way.
- Give it structure – it’s important to have a well thought out page hierarchy as not all pages will carry the same level of importance from a customer’s point of view and here is where the experienced professionals can make a world of difference. Think of the difference between a novel written by an Author, and your own best effort to tell the same story.
- Keep your website content relevant and up to date; it engages your customer and gives them confidence that they are working with a thriving business who is ‘on the ball’.
- Make it visual – websites have never been more visual; like any developing advertising medium, the way customers expect to engage with websites has changed over time. Make sure your website interacts with customers in an exciting way that makes them want to come back. Image quality is crucial, as is video, but it’s also about the little things that make a website easy to navigate and use, such as speed and page load times.
In today’s world, most of us will find your website first and foremost on our mobile devices. Therefore it’s paramount to ensure that your website is optimised for mobile. By optimised, we mean can it change its format so it works just as well on a laptop, tablet and smartphone as it does on a desktop computer.
If not, it’s time to update your site. Not only is it better for customers (nobody wants to squint at a website on their mobile) but Google will also rank responsive sites more positively. So if customers are searching using their phone (as most of us initially do), Google will prioritise sites that are responsive to phones (mobile friendly). If your site isn’t responsive, it’s unlikely to make the cut and if the customer can’t immediately connect with the information that they are looking for, then they are likely to bounce to another site where they can.
Search engine optimisation and expert copywriting
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is all about how you build and manage your website to give search engines such as Google the best possible chance of finding you, selecting you and ranking you near the top of its search results. The most important thing to know is how Google ranks its search results. It does this by using an algorithm to offer what it thinks the user is looking for and refines the algorithms regularly (the exact formulas are closely guarded secrets), but they’re based on hundreds of factors, including quality of a website, keyword matches to the search terms and the way the site is designed. So how can you make these factors work in your favour and boost your search profile? – It’s all about the keywords.
It’s often worth investing in expert copywriters who are experienced in delivering copy to represent a business, whilst ensuring that it’s littered with keywords which potential customers may use when searching for a business like yours. Another way to use more keywords is to add relevant blogs or articles to your website. Google loves new content, so you’re giving your visibility a double boost by adding a regular blog.
Build your email list – capturing prospects and leads
Building your email list will become one of your biggest assets, as it provides the opportunity to deliver regular communications straight into the inbox of potential customers. With 81% of users researching online before they buy, it’s important to capture as many of these historical and prospective customers as possible. The easiest and most effective way to do this is to create an offering or service such as the below, which they can gain access to if they sign up and consent to provide an email address for you to send information to:
- A checklist
- Access to resources, for example White Papers
- An educational course or online tutorial
- An appointment with your team
The key is to ensure this offering or service has value and benefits the customer in some way. Leave them wanting a little bit more information and entice them to your fabulous website or to contact you for further information, help or support.
Once you start to build your list, feed it with a constant drip of useful information and content. Push products, services and updates to your base through regular email communications, blogs and offers. Always create trackable links and ensure these communications have a call to action and feed back to your website, closing the link and allowing you to measure success.
Understanding how people visit, navigate and interact with your website is key to not only delivering an effective website, but also targeting prospects and converting them into valued customers. Web analytics tools allow you to track and monitor your potential customers’ journey through your website and to measure their engagement. These insights can be used to evaluate many things. For example, the success of a particular online campaign or understanding which products and services a person is interested in, thus allowing you to keep them up to date with your most recent offerings. Perhaps the best known example of this would be Amazon.com. With millions of customers browsing its product lines daily, they are able to build up a detailed picture of products their customers have viewed, liked and are interested in and in turn start to send them emails of products which they think may be of interest. Their analytics are far more complex than most small businesses, but it demonstrates the power of analytics and the key to understanding this data in a much more detailed way to drive success within your own business. By the way, you don’t need Amazon’s budget to achieve this. An analytics tool like Google Analytics will do an awesome job of giving you this type of information and it’s free.
By following these 5 principles you can avoid some of the common mistakes made by companies looking to increase their online presence. Put yourself in the mind of the customer, take pride in your website and use the experts to maximise your return on business investment.
For further information on the web packages available from our HoneyBadger experts, please visit https://www.honeybadgersme.com/whatwedo/website-design/