I’m Not a Consultant, But I Play One on TV…Your Website IS Your Company
People always want free advice. Unfortunately, all too often, it’s worth what you pay for it. After a recent conversation with a close friend who has a business in NYC that wanted to begin to generate customers online, I was thinking about what I expressed to him as ‘important,’ and thought that imparting that same free advice to Webvantix’s blog readers would be helpful.
Yet, too often ‘advice’ that comes from someone trying to sell you something is viewed as anything but objective. So I’m going to relay the same free advice I gave him, here. Therefore, think of us as your free, objective online marketing consultant.
Here Was My Advice to Him:
Don’t Be Cheap
Far too many businesses don’t see the ROI created by an online presence. Therefore, they are extremely reluctant to hire quality, professional help. It’s just too expensive. The issue becomes that if you relegate your web work to a staff person with no design or coding experience, your site will suffer. Frankly, it will look terrible, and the results will not be what you expected. The bottom line is, if you’re starting a business, or you already have a business up and running, and you cannot afford the $4000-$5000 for a professional website, then your company is already in trouble. If you can afford it, but don’t want to spend the money, look at how much revenue even one new customer generated by that website could bring in, and you will quickly see the reward is worth the expense. Get past the current mindset that spending money on your business is a bad thing. Your website, or your online presence, is extremely important, and you need to treat is as such.
Have a Beautiful Site
So many industry people continue to bemoan how many terrible websites are out there–and they are correct. Large company or small company, having a web presence means having an online reflection of your business. Try looking at your site from the prospective of a customer, is your site beautiful? While there are other aspects that are important, the first thing people see is the beauty of your site. If you develop a site that is anything but visually compelling, what does that say about you, and your business? It says to me that you’re lazy, and don’t pay attention to detail. Not a good projection of your company, especially with all of the competition out there willing to undercut you in a heartbeat.
Creating a beautiful site means nothing if you don’t have compelling, and interesting content that speaks directly to your site’s visitors. The key to content is not to be a “solution.” Too many companies bolt from the gate telling us how they are “the solution.” Solution selling no longer works, because everyone has the same solutions–there is nothing original. The key is to speak directly to the different verticals within your business, and help people understand the benefits to what you offer. Think deeply about your content. Hint: Look at your competition’s content and strive to
Good Horizontal Navigation
Vertical (down the side) navigation is dead, and if you employ it, it makes you look behind the design curve. Maintaining a professional look to your site is important, and this is an aspect that should not be overlooked.
Silo Your Visitors
Utilize ‘Action Buttons’ that speak directly to the visitors of your website. By understanding who is landing on your site, you can then work to silo them to the correct interior pages that are built to speak specifically to them. This will greatly minimize bounce and increase your chances of converting a visitor to a customer.
Calls To Action
On EVERY interior page their should be a ‘Call to Action’ that enables your site visitor to “Pull the Trigger.” Relying on the Contact Us page will greatly stunt your conversion rate. Giving your visitors the ability to contact you or interact with you from any page solidifies you ability to convert. Do this one thing, and the number of your visitors that turn into leads will soar.
I will put it succinctly: If you want more traffic, blog! Driving new visitors to your site and keeping customers engaged is the key to a strong website ROI. When we started blogging at Webvantix our traffic jumped over 250%, seeing this firsthand converted me from skeptic to believer. All too often I hear about SEO and the desire business owners have to be on the first page of Google’s SERP. For a small site, there is no better way to achieve these results than to blog in your vertical. If you dismiss blogging, you’re results will suffer. Here is more evidence of why you should blog.
In my opinion most SMM (Social Media Marketing) by smaller, local businesses is a waste of time, especially Twitter. If you’ve got 200 followers most will be spam or trying to sell you some MLM, and you will see little, if no return. Results can be generated, but that means spending a great deal of time at it–something you probably don’t have. Bottom line, if you’re a brick and mortar business, have a Facebook page and offer specials on it to engage your customers. But don’t believe all the hype, SMM is just an extension of advertising, and the returns can take time. Blogging is far more important.
Do you have a business that has specials or weekly offerings? How about a bar that has live bands throughout the week? If this is the case, get a Calendar page up fast, and KEEP IT UP TO DATE! Your customers will visit it over and over (you can even offer them the ability to subscribe to it through RSS). Remember, the more you engage with your website, the more your customers will engage with it, and that means more business.
Specials and Coupons
Do you have a local restaurant, salon, ice cream shop? Depending upon your business you may offer weekly specials. Be sure and offer these through your Facebook page and tie it into your website. People will “Like” your FB page and your coupons or specials will be pushed to them as they are created. Viola, repeat business.
One of the most overlooked aspects of getting traction for websites is failure to register them. Of course registration at Google, Yahoo, and Bing should be automatic, but there are scores of other business listing websites out there (Yelp, Manta, etc). Spending time on registering your company on these sites will get you noticed. As a matter of fact, to help you, here is our whitepaper with a listing of 36 sites where you can register your business. Do it now!
Don’t Have a Static Site
One of the biggest mistakes companies make is having the perception that they can build a site and forget it. Don’t fall into that trap. In order to keep traffic coming in and traffic repeating, you need fresh, quality content. Using your site as a tool to marketing your business will reap you terrific rewards provided you continue to add content, if you ignore it, your traffic will drop.
These are the points I discussed with my friend, yet like so many, he is hesitant to spend money on the development of his site. What I suggest is to clearly understand what you want your site to accomplish, then look at how much revenue it could possibly generate. If that number is significant, based upon the profitability of a new customer, then the decision should be easy to make.
Just remember, as I stated earlier, your site is a reflection of you and your business. Make your site beautiful, keep fresh, quality content flowing in and your customers will be engaged and your site will be a valuable asset to your business.
I hope this little bit has helped…
Preston Ehrler, Webvantix