Your small business website can be one of your most powerful marketing allies, or it can send the wrong message and drive your prospects into your competitors’ arms.
Which will it be for you?
Today’s post is designed to make you think about all the ways your small business website could work for you. First, though, you have to sweat the details.
Get started by grabbing a few of the suggestions below, and applying them to your site this week.
1. People search the web first, before anything else
According to the Pew Research Center, people look to the Internet for local business information before any other resource, including newspapers and word of mouth.
That’s powerful stuff, and to make the most of this reality, your small business website has to pull its weight. Read on to find out how to take advantage of this consumer behavior.
2. Your small business website will be a sales force that never sleeps
If you’re running a small business, chances are you’re juggling multiple roles. You know you need to sell, but you may not have a staff salesperson who can develop leads and draw in prospects.
Your small business website can be that salesperson — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can share information about your product or service, answer frequently-asked questions and give people an easy way to take the next step (more on this later).
3. You’ll present your sales message as a full multimedia experience
You might wish you could personally meet each and every prospect.
You believe that people would purchase from you if they could just see your product or service in action, get to know you, and interact with your business.
With multimedia offerings on your small business website, you can do all that and more. Try these ideas:
- Demonstrate your product on video, and show results achieved by real customers
- Provide a checklist, buyer’s guide or how-to ebook that explains how to make the most out of their purchase
- Offer an audio recording with insider tips and tricks
Create your marketing story in a variety of formats and provide them all on your website. Make it easy for prospects to consume your information by providing it in the format they prefer.
4. You’ll make two-way communication effortless
Don’t think of your website as a place to broadcast your marketing messages: hand the mic over to your prospects!
Give people a place to talk back by writing a blog that encourages comments. Run surveys and ask good questions. Make it easy for them to contact you through your contact form.
Marketing is a social process, so use all the social aspects of your website to encourage two-way conversations.
5. Changes will be embraced
One of the beautiful things about websites is that they can continuously evolve as your business does.
They’re never really “done,” and that’s a good thing. Frequent content updates are rewarded with better search rankings, and you can tweak and improve on the way your information is presented week by week.
When your business offerings change, you can easily revise website pages to reflect those changes. Updating is easy!
6. You’ll draw your prospects in without smacking them upside the head
No one wants to submit themselves to overbearing sales people and pushy marketing. When you have a functional website that offers great information, there’s no reason to rely on aggressive tactics.
You can leave a trail of breadcrumbs that slowly (but surely) leads your prospects down the path toward doing business with you. You’ll enjoy the process more, and so will your future customers.
Even shy prospects can interact with your information in a way that feels comfortable to them, which means you can attract people more efficiently than a sales person could.
7. Your site visitors will become part of your sales force
If you enable social sharing on your website, your visitors will spread your marketing messages for you. How?
Provide information that’s helpful, entertaining and useful, then give people an easy way to share it through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more.
One-click buttons and sharing icons make this painless for your visitors, and increase the chances they’ll help spread the word about your offerings.
8. You’ll build a entrance ramp to your prospect’s inbox
As much as you may try to write with a conversational tone on the pages of your website, your prospects know that at any given moment there are hundreds of other people looking at your pages at the same time they are.
Not so in their email inbox. Email is personal and much more intimate, and your website can give you a way in to that space.
Build your entrance ramp by offering something in return for an email address. Create an autoresponder, which sends messages out automatically on a schedule, and stay in touch.
Feeling ambitious? Commit to creating a weekly newsletter.
Staying in contact with your prospects will keep your business at the top of your prospect’s mind. When they’re ready to buy, they’ll think of you before all the rest.
9. Your happy customers will do the talking for you
When you hear positive feedback from your customers, what do you do? After you finish smiling from ear to ear, your next step should be to ask permission to use their comments as a testimonial.
Your website is the perfect location to feature testimonials. Prospects put a lot of weight on testimonials from buyers who are just like them, so feature them prominently.
Remember, testimonials can be multimedia, too: written, audio, and video testimonials all work.
10. You’ll see that testing your small business website is simple
Back in the day — 15 years ago — when you wanted to test a marketing concept, you added a small code to the bottom of your direct mail postcard and measured to see how many came back.
Or you bought different 800 numbers and tracked how many calls came in to each one.
Now, testing different offers is easy, especially if you have a WordPress site and use a plugin for creating landing pages.
There are plugins which feature the ability to easily create two versions of a page so you can test to see which one brings you more sales.
Is your small business website everything it could be?
Thanks to RLHyde on Flickr for the photo.