We live in the digital age and every business needs a professional website. A custom website is often the first impression a prospective client sees of your business. Even if your business gains most of its clients by referral, most referrals will check you out on the web before contacting you. So maintaining a professional website is essential to effective marketing, even for referrals. Websites vary by product, industry and market. The website needs for a local dentist, differ widely from say the website for Coca Cola. You know the saying in business, what works for P&G doesn’t necessarily work for you and me. So keep these tips in mind for your small business.
1) Maintain a professional, current themed website. Understand the most current trends in color and design. Websites can age very quickly. And clients can easily identify a professional website design that is out of date. Just like fashion design, custom website designs come and go. Look to redesign every three years.
2) Navigating your custom website should be simple. Visitors can become frustrated and leave the site if they get lost in the site and can’t navigate their way to the pages and information they are looking for. Always keep the Navigation Bar at the top of the page, always.
3) Maintain a professional website design. In the small local business market you have lots of competition. Having a home grown website will hurt your image. A custom website includes professional photography, copy writing, a blog post, and links to social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. The additional expense for these features for a site that is 5 to 7 pages is minimal. And you will appear in the market far ahead of your competitors by doing so.
4) Keep your message simple and to the point. Your prospect has landed on your site because they were searching on a particular topic or referred by a current client. So keep your message short and sweet. Don’t provide too much information. Visitors don’t want to read a novel. We live in a sound bite culture and people prefer to look at pictures rather than read text. You want them to contact you, so don’t spill all the candy on the page.
5) Include a CTA (Call to Action) on each page. Small, local businesses are built on relationships and referrals. So the sooner the prospect contacts you by email or telephone the sooner you have the opportunity to build a relationship with your new prospect. So ask them to email or call now! Make your custom website work for you. It’s a sales force if managed correctly.
6) If you plan to run Search Engine Advertising on Google, Yahoo or Bing, create specific landing pages detailing the offering you are advertising. By doing so you will increase the click through rate and reduce the bounce rate. In addition consider offering a coupon or a special to engage the client in your business. You paid good money for that click, now reel in the prospect with the right message and a special offer.
7) Include a testimonials tab on your site. Small local businesses thrive on referrals. However the web has the potential to bring you clients who are blindly searching. So give them some referrals by publishing testimonials on a recurring basis. Nothing will sell your product better than a happy, current client.
8) Demonstrate your Subject Matter Expertise (SME) through the use of a Blog Post. Most small business owners have been practicing their trade for 15 years or more. Clients come to you and refer you to others because they trust your knowledge and expertise. So take the time each month and draft a short Blog on a current topic in your industry. This will also increase your search ranking. Blogging is excellent SEO.
9) Maintain your website with current content. Static websites rank poorly by search engines and eventually lose value to attract, engage and retain current and future prospects. Your industry is most likely changing with the market (unless you sell No. 2 Pencils), so take the time throughout the year to update content that is relevant and current for your market and industry.
Differentiate yourself. Your professional website should be a reflection of you, your business expertise and personality. So be sure that your site feels comfortable for you and your clients. It should feel like that nice, well-worn pair of jeans you wear on a Saturday around your home. It’s your store front. So make it inviting and encourage the visitors to come on in!
Mark Alexander is a Partner with Triangle WebCare, an Internet Marketing Firm specializing in Custom Website Design, Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Advertising, Social Media Marketing and Internet Marketing Services for small business’s located in Raleigh and the Triangle area of North Carolina. www.trianglewebcare.com