It’s almost 2013 and you have a website. Congratulations!
I hate to scare you but just having a website isn’t enough anymore. Gone are the days businesses can get by with an outdated and unfriendly brochure site that just displays the company name, address and some text describing what they do.
Businesses should treat their website as their “online store” and as an extension of their brand. Business websites are business tools that can be used to accomplish tasks like getting clients or making money. Just as you want your customers comfortable, engaged and spending money in your physical store, you want them to have the same experience when visiting your online store.
YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE PAYING ATTENTION…YOU SHOULD TOO.
Internet Inc. recently released the results of its 2011 Virtual Main Street Audit — their survey on the relationship between consumer satisfaction and small business websites. Small business owners should take note of its key findings. Here are some stats that should get you thinking about the importance of a good website. For a full report on the survey click here.
- 35% of consumers walked away from a small business because of its poor quality website
- 45% of consumers believe that a bad small business website is worse than having no website at all
- 30% of consumers surveyed believe small business websites often lack essential features
- 28% found that the small business websites they use are “unimpressive”
- 29% report frequently finding errors such as typos or broken URLs
So before I get into all the things you are doing wrong with your small business website, you need to know…
What Makes a Good Website?
- It achieves SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) business goals
- It provides a positive user experience (easy to navigate and accomplish desired tasks
- It is constantly improving based on user data and testing
- It follows CARP design principles
In addition to being goal oriented and user-friendly, there are also…
6 Things Your Website Must Do
- Speak the users language
- Communicate who the customer is
- Communicate the core benefits
- Show passion for the product
- Build trust
- Push user into the sales funnel
You can read the full article here 6 Things Your Home Page Must Do (to Keep from Sucking).
So Now What?
So if you are like most small businesses, you are realizing your website does not come close to achieving all the elements needed to be successful. You may not have thought about your website as a business tool and an extension of your physical store…more importantly, a tool that will make more money for your business. Makes you wonder…why aren’t more businesses investing in their online store? Your web space is virtual real estate and should be looked at that way.
It’s a mistake when small businesses don’t take into account the impression their website makes on their customers perception of their brand and credibility. A common mistake small business make is to opt for a quick and/or inexpensive “site in a box” or something their step-nephew “put together” in his Into to Web Design class. Most small business websites are missing the key elements needed to inform, motivate, and convert visitors. Websites that are built without clear goals, clarity or messaging aren’t doing anything. Let’s look at the…
10 things your website does that you should be ashamed of…
The website below was built to demonstrate a lot of the terrible things you are doing to drive traffic AWAY from your webpage.
1. You’ve got a ‘build it yourself’ website
Build it yourself programs are cheap, but often do not look professional, and cannot be found in the Search Engines to drive traffic. If your website looks cheap and is not designed to generate leads you just wasted a lot of your time. It’s also very obvious to the user if it is a template site, which does not instill any credibility for the customer in your company.
2. You’re trying to be everything to everybody
Every business has a primary target market and then secondary target markets. Your web pages should be designed specifically for those people and each web page optimized to reach them. In the website below, all the services are jumbled together in a way that make is difficult to read and find out the services that you are looking for.
3. You don’t tell the customer what to do next
Don’t assume people know what to do next! Ask them to call you. Offer them an email alternative such as an opt in box. Remember, people search at all hours and your phone number does them no good if it is 2 am and you are closed.
4. You don’t make a “Call to Action”
If you are marketing to people that need problems solved and provide them with solutions, you need to have a call to action. You can offer them a coupon or a special online discount and have them fill out a form to get it. Just a simple name and email address is all you need. The key is to trade something of value for their personal info. If there is no trade, very few people will opt in.
Capturing personal info allows you to create a dialog and follow up. Don’t just rely on the standard contact us page. Put your call to action on every page so the viewer does not have to search. This website by DL Accountants in the UK has these “Calls to Action” on every page.
5. You have features that don’t work properly
Broken links or landing pages that are no longer working are frustrating for the user. Or perhaps its a calculator or contact form that does not perform or leaves the user wondering “did I do that right?”
6. You make it hard for people to buy
In this example, the website actually “broke” while I was trying to purchase a banner. It was slow re-loading and never took me to the check-out page. If your have a website that is selling something, make sure the process to checkout is flawless. Do you like money? Then make it easy for people to give it to you!
7. You’re using Flash
Flash splash pages and intros have been known to cut traffic by 50%. Most people who work in the web-world know that Adobe Flash-based websites have numerous issues. They don’t work on many mobile devices; they load slow; they can’t be read by Google (which means they get poor search engine ranking). If your website starts screaming, talking, spinning, or blinking, it might just scare the hell out of me as well. But my reaction will not be so forgiving. In fact I will never go to your website again. Plenty of examples of this are available in the World’s Worst Website.
8. You use a free website solution
These are sites that use a sub domain like yoursitename.freeservicename.com or puts their ads on the free website until you upgrade to take it off. These are typically terrible sites that show your customer one thing: you don’t care.
9. Your site isn’t current
You have a blog, but the last post was back in 2010. That is showing your customers that you put little thought or care into your online store. So why would you care about them? You have an archive of newsletters, but the last one was 6 months ago…where is the new content? Your website should always be changing and producing useful content for your customers. This is a great way to get new clients and keep the ones you’ve got.
10. You only focus on current customers
A lot of small business websites we see are great for “current clients” but aren’t used as sales tools or a welcome mat for new customers to sign up, call, or buy your product or service. If a potential customer lands on your website, will they know what you do? Why you are different? How do they make contact?
Your website is a tool that can be used to increase revenue for your small business. Websites should be used to solve business problems. They can be used to generate leads, make sales, get feedback, capture contact information and to learn where and how people are getting your website. These are your customers. You should take care of them by providing a positive experience from the moment they arrive on your site until they leave. Making the mistakes listed in this article only show your customers that your don’t care about them. So do you?
Some initial investment, continual maintenance as well as design iteration and testing will take your website a long way. Just think how much you spend on your physical store with rent, utilities, maintenance, etc. You can have a sweet online store that engages your customers and sells for a fraction of what you spend on your physical store.