Elements Of A Successful Business Website
A Small Business Website Can Compete With A Big Company’s Website If Potential Customers Are Impressed By It’s Content & Accessibility
By: Nick Napoli, CEO – The Object Group
Let me tell you something you probably already know. It’s difficult for small businesses to compete with large companies for clients. The disadvantage is real.
Like a pro sports agent running a one-person business, an executive from a small business can be more enthusiastic, more skilled, and more committed to their clients than an executive from a large company, but still be at a disadvantage. Closing a deal can be a long shot for a small business because the prospective client sees that a large company seemingly has much more to offer. Further, the decision-maker of the prospective client often picks the large company because it’s the safe play. If everything goes south, nobody blames the executive who went with the large company so why risk your neck by giving the little guy a shot?
Similarly, small stores and small offices often have a big disadvantage against their larger competitors. Shocker, I know.
The same principle is NOT necessarily true when it comes to the battle of the almighty website. Websites, in fact, can be the great equalizer — an advertisement that negates the large company’s ability to pay for more expensive print and broadcast ads as well as more employees, products, and services.
”With today’s tech-savvy consumer, a website is a given for any successful business — regardless of size or industry,” wrote marketing entrepreneur Zach Cutler in the Entrepreneur magazine article “6 Elements Every Business Website Needs.” “Without a website, businesses won’t be taken seriously and likely will decrease their chances of being found by new customers. A well-designed website can also allow a small-business owner to compete with the big boys, leveling the playing field in an increasingly competitive consumer market.”
Competing with the big boys is, of course, easier said than done. You have to present a website for business as professionally as you present yourself. Your website has to be, in essence, the technological equivalent of being physically attractive, easy to get along with, well-spoken, and well-dressed — an online Jerry Maguire. It also has to have the technological equivalent of a great executive’s substantive skills — content that will make the website more impressive to prospective clients the more they explore it.
Create a business website that will allow you to compete against the big boys but is still an affordable website. Below are some tips for how you can do that but first and foremost, consider that The Object Group offers beautiful and affordable business websites for just $99/month. No need to waste valuable time and energy for ‘do-it-yourself’ projects that almost always reach their limitations anyways. We even build out your website demo for free in about a week. However, if you’re set on building your own website, or you’re just critiquing your web developer’s handy work, consider the following.
A. General Tips:
1. Update The Content Often
Why would people visit a website in July when they have seen that the content in June, May, and April was the same? You should give people as many reasons as possible to keep coming back to your website. Thus, you should write blogs about your industry that shows prospective customers your expertise and post blogs written by others.
News and how-to blogs attract readers. The Forbes magazine article “A Guide to How Often and When to Post Content” reports that websites with at least 16 new blogs per month get about four times as much traffic as websites that post four or fewer. In addition, fresh content improves a website’s search engine results rankings.
2. Appeal To The Eye
“A picture is worth a thousand words,” sounds trite, but there is no question that many of your prospective customers are more apt to stay on and return to a website that is visually appealing. Thus, you should find attractive photographs to post on your website and seek an employee or consultant with web design skills.
You should also post videos that describe what your company does. Text should supplement the videos and vice-versa. In addition, you should consider providing readers “some sort of interactive experience,” writes Cutler of Entrepreneur magazine.
3. Make Info Easy To Find
Doesn’t it drive you crazy when you can’t find something? Your prospective customers are like you. “Too many clicks means not enough business,” reports the article “The 7 Key Elements of a Successful Business Website.” “Aim to keep important information accessible in just three clicks or less so users enjoy navigating your site and will spend more time there.”
Making your website easy to use for people accessing it via mobile phones and tablets is also crucial. These websites provide info on making your website more mobile-friendly — 1.) https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
4. K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid)
Your website needs at least a few webpages besides the homepage, including a page about your company, a page about your products and services, a contact page, and a page with blogs. However, too many webpages can make your website a frustrating jigsaw puzzle.
There should be a few links to webpages on the top of your homepage and “contact us” oriented links on the bottom, but the article “12 Web Design Tips to Help You Achieve Success in 2016” recommends eliminating sidebar links and reducing the number of links in your navigation menu because they create too much clutter. Complicated websites often cause readers to leave them, the article says.
5. Be Personal
Your website should not read like a textbook or an instruction book. The company’s CEO should identify himself or herself and “talk” to prospective customers in writing as well as via videos. People are much more comfortable dealing with a person than a company.
Your website should also encourage prospective customers and customers to communicate with you via as many ways as possible, including your social media websites. The “contact us” oriented links on the bottom of your homepage should include links to those websites.
B. Homepage Tips:
1. The Headlines
“Within three seconds, a website needs to tell visitors what the business has to offer,” reports the HubSpot article “12 Critical Elements Every Website Homepage Must Have.” HubSpot recommends a headline with very few words and a subhead that has a brief description of what the company does.
If your company offers accounting services, the headline might just say “Accounting Services” and the subhead might say something like “We help small businesses make smart budgeting and tax decisions.” Crucial information about the business should be below the headlines.
2. A Call To Action
The HubSpot article and an article in Entrepreneur magazine entitled “50 Features Every Small Business Website Must Have” recommend placing a call to action (CTA) button near the top of the homepage.
The latter article recommends that the button be right under the company’s phone number. The HubSpot article says the CTA should be “visually striking, ideally in a color that contrasts from the color scheme of your homepage.”
Oftentimes, the most effective way to sell your products and services is to let past customers essentially tell prospective customers about them. That’s why you should have a link to customer reviews near the top of your homepage.
The “50 Features” article says “video testimonials can be even better.” The “6 Elements” Entrepreneur magazine article reports that 85 percent of consumers read online reviews for local businesses.
4. The Footer
The bottom of the homepage should include crucial information such as contact information, business hours, and buttons that enable prospective customers to go to your Facebook and other social media pages. The contact information should include your company’s phone number, e-mail address, and physical address.
The “50 Features” article also recommends an online chat feature. Remember, the first section of this article recommended that companies give prospective customers as many ways as possible to communicate with the company
C. “About Us” Page Tips:
1. Make The Facts Intriguing
The “About Us” page must have basic facts about the company, but it should emphasize facts or present them in a way that make prospective clients think ‘wow.’ Writing “Company X has been in business since 1966 and is now the third largest company in its industry” is boring. It’s better to be personal than textbookish.
Try writing “Do you want your company to boost its profits? Thousands of start-up companies have thrived since 1966 because of our accounting services. Here are some of their stories.” A link on the word “here” should direct readers to a “Clients’ Stories” page.
2. Make The Facts Easy To Read
Thinking like a prospective client is important. Most prospective clients don’t want to read a bunch of facts. They mostly have specific questions and want specific answers. That’s why an FAQ (frequently asked questions) page is so important.
Your “About Us” Page should include a link to an FAQ page that is simultaneously very thorough and concise. You should pretend you’re a prospective client as you write the questions. It’s better to have 20 questions with one-sentence answers than five questions with long answers.
3. List Your Best Clients
Prospective clients are more apt to be impressed by a specific list of your company’s clients than a general statement that your company is the third largest in its industry.
There should also be list of which industries your company serves. A technology company is more apt to be interested in your company if it sees that you already serve companies in the technology industry.
4. Introduce Your Leadership
Remember, being personal is important. Your “About Us” page should include a message from your CEO talking about the company’s other top leaders.
There should be a link to information on each of the leaders. The info about each of the leaders should feature the leader “talking” in a personal way about his or her background, desire to serve clients, and what he or she does for the company. This helps prospective clients decide who to contact
D. “Products” Pages Tips:
1. Write Creatively About A Product’s Benefits
The advice “be personal” also applies to your “Products” pages. The home Products page should feature high-quality images of your products and links to pages for each product. Products pages are usually boring, listing facts as if the page was an instruction manual.
Your company can differentiate itself by being fun and entertaining, advises the HubSpot article “6 Tips for Building Great Product Pages.” You can, for example, ask prospective customers to imagine listening to other parents praise your children as always being very clean under your description of a washer.
2. List Product Name In A Link
The HubSpot article points out that listing the product name rather than an item number in the website address helps the company selling the product to be higher on a search engine results page.
This means more traffic to your website and possibly more customers. HubSpot doesn’t mess around, take their word for it. See: http://www.mysite.com/product-category/product-name is better thanhttp://www.mysite.com/Item/9002497111
3. Make Buying Easy
The Entrepreneur magazine article “6 Elements .”Every Business Website Needs” reports that companies that use outside e-commerce websites to process transactions are creating a “barrier” between them and the customer. The article recommends that websites use online ordering or a shopping cart “with the help of a product such as PayPal.”
E. “Contact Us” Page Tips:
1. List Several Options
Some people just don’t like phoning. Some people just don’t like waiting for an e-mail. You get the point. The Business 2 Community article “Contact Page: 6 Killer Tips and Real Examples” recommends that the following information be given on a “contact us” page — telephone number with area code, e-mail address, social media links, working hours, and your company’s address.
Yes, some people still like seeking information via the mail or via person-to-person contact.
2. Encourage Direct Contacts
This is another way you can heed the “be personal” advice. Even a company with 20 employees often has at least two departments. A “Contact Us” page can link each department.
Listing the direct phone numbers and e-mail addresses of a department’s personnel on that department’s webpage could boost business. Prospective customers are more apt to become customers when they find the information they need.
You can also have an online chat link on the homepage and “Contact Us” page.
3. Keep Contact Forms Simple
The Business 2 Community article has several tips for simplifying your contact forms. It’s important to understand that people are less likely to fill out a contact form as the time it takes to fill it out increases. Thus, your forms should have as few fields as possible.
However, people who want to write a long message should have that option. It’s also important to have a system that tells people that you have received their message and will reply ASAP. Then, you SHOULD reply ASAP.
Creating a small business website that can and will compete with a large company’s website is a lot of hard work. However, the investment of time and labor in an affordable website can yield great dividends.
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