The times have changed for aspiring entrepreneurs. One of the best tools to achieve a competitive advantage is to create, maintain and grow an online presence. Today, more and more small businesses are beginning to understand where their market is and have made themselves easier to find for their target consumers through effective use of small business websites.
Have you been having second thoughts about building a business site? Do you wonder how time-consuming it would be to maintain your website? Or maybe you are unsure if you have the technical know-how to keep it up and running?
Here are a few sure-fire ways to help you decide that building your presence online is an excellent first step for your business.
1. Get Your Message Across
Unlike networking where you get to speak with your prospects one on one, online marketing is a dynamic marketplace. Your website is a salesperson for your small business. Small business websites can also be your receptionist. You have to build it to properly get your message across – what you offer and how it makes a difference in your site visitor’s lives.
Simple and easy-to-navigate. These are perhaps the most essential things that your website needs to be in order to get your message across. No frills, just your products and/or services why people need to have them in their lives.
If you are selling products, make sure you have great photos and accurate descriptions. If you are service-based, make sure you outline what you offer. The colours, the images, even the font must represent your business. If you can get them, post reviews or testimonials so that prospects get a better idea of what you really offer from people you have done business with you or have purchased your products.
2. Identify, Know and Analyze Your Market
Who are you selling to? What is your market? Once you have identified your market, it’s time to get to know them.
- What do they need?
- How can you reach them?
- What motivates them to buy?
These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself.
After getting the answers to those questions above, you are now ready to study and analyze your market. Based on their answers, you will be able to create a marketing strategy specifically targeted to each section of your target market.
Knowing your target market allows you to accurately segment them and create your marketing plan accordingly. Then, you can build your website to cater to the different segments of your target market. You may even find a new opportunity for your product or service during this market research that you can build upon later and add to your website.
3. Create A Unique Domain
Aside from the clarity of what your website is all about, it is also vital that you are able to come up with a name for your website that resonates with your market. It can easily be the name of your brand or a catchy word or short phrase that represents it. Either way, what is essential about domain names for small business websites is how it prompts quick recall.
If all else fails (such as when your chosen domain name is already taken), going with a name that is SEO-friendly is your best bet. Remember, a domain name is crucial since it will be your business’ address on the web. Invest in it. Some domain names are expensive and may put a strain on your startup budget. However, getting a domain name that uniquely represents your business is fundamental to achieving online success.
4. Keep It Simple
Who wouldn’t love to show off those fantastic video tutorials or some of your great product photos? However, these media content may slow down your website and people are just too quick to close a window that takes forever to load.
Aim for a smooth, simple and user-friendly website. Keep the aesthetics in line with your brand, but make sure that visitors can easily find what they have come looking for on your website.
Going online to purchase from your website should be easy and convenient. Create easy-to-navigate pages as well as clear call-to-action for your visitors. At the end of the day, your website should be able to give them an enjoyable experience learning about your brand as well as a smooth transaction in buying your items or booking your services.
5. Test, Test, Test Your Small Business Website
So you have a clean and user-friendly website. The aesthetics are on point. The content is compelling.
But wait, are the links working? Is your payment method functioning without a glitch? Are your call-to-actions linking to the right pages?
Make sure to do a thorough check of all your links before publishing your website. Same goes with your payment processing. Always test, test, test. Open your site in all the popular browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge and Safari). Click each feature and link on every page. Yes, every single page of your website. Check too if it’s rendering nicely on mobile.
It’s essential to get everything in good running order before going live. It’s easy to lose potential customers after they click on a click and got directed to a 404 page. It would make them wonder what else might not be working.
6. Have A Plan
Building a small business website is only the beginning. There’s definitely more that you can do, and it would be such a waste if you stop at getting your site live. Even before you build your website, have a plan.
- Determine your goals.
- Create a strategy.
- Establish your timeline.
Your website is only a part of the bigger picture. It must fit perfectly into that in order to make your business grow and generate more income.
Small business websites are your portal to attracting new clients and keeping them. The features and content must be in line with your strategy. You are not just creating a website for the sake of it, you are building your business’ home on the web. You are creating a website for the purpose of growing your online presence and making more money to strengthen your business and make it more sustainable.
7. Take Advantage Of Social Media
Aside from engaging your potential market into a brand-new website, you should also take the time to create your brand’s social media presence. Your potential market is most probably on social media and you must be there to reach out to them.
According to Sprout Social, Facebook has a 68% adult user share while Instagram is more popular to the younger generation, aged 13-29. Meanwhile, Twitter appeals to young adults and mostly females aged 18-49 are on Pinterest. LinkedIn is more popular to both middle-aged males and females. This data is crucial as you choose which social media platforms who would like to focus on.
While setting up a Facebook page for your business is already given, you may want to add another one or two to your social media portfolio. Creating an account on these social media platforms is free, take advantage of it. Make use of these free tools to engage with your audience, build brand awareness, and drive traffic to your website.
8. Keep Your Website Updated
There is nothing more frustrating than learning about a product or service provider, heading down to their website and then finding out it has been years since they updated anything on it.
Before you finally get into the drive of owning and creating your website, be sure that you are in it for the long run. Dedicate a good portion of your time and effort to making it a point of updating your business pages even if it is just a few times each week or every few days.
You need to learn how to improve on what you already have over time. What works today may not bring in traffic this time next year. The online world is very dynamic and ever-changing. You must keep abreast of these changes to stay relevant not only to your audience but also to search engines and social media platforms.
A truthful and innovative presence online is one factor that can decide your business’ success. That may be saying a lot but as a small business owner or a startup, you need to be able to compete with the rest.
You must have a plan on what you need to be done based on your business goals. You must have researched your target market and create your content based on that data. You must be willing to invest money, time and effort; it is for the long haul. You must be committed to maintaining your website for the long term. And this means you must always be keeping track of what works and what doesn’t. Always watching out for current trends that appeal to your target market.
It is a lot of work but with this essential guide to creating successful small business websites, you will be reaping the benefits in no time.