When you have a business, one of the most important things you are told by anyone and everyone is that you need a website. Okay, terrific, now what? Do a google search (ahem.. wait until you are done reading here obviously) for what your website absolutely needs, and the most important aspects of a business site. This is a fun game if you are one of the few people that enjoy frustration and being overwhelmed. You will get a million answers, and a lot of them will be different.
The simplest way around this is to just pay someone else to create your website for you while you focus on other aspects of your business. That being said, what if you cannot, or do not want to pay the ridiculous price for someone with no vested interest in your vision to make what could be the first impression of your business? In all seriousness if you don't have the time, will, or fire to learn how to make and/or run your website it is best to find someone to build it for you. Just make sure you are a huge part of the process all the way through. Your website needs to portray your vision and take on your personality. And relax, there are plenty of small, local consultants that are more flexible and way less expensive, that can build you a perfectly functional and beautiful site with any of the bells and whistles you desire. CLICK HERE to see my favorite consultant for this, *wink*
It might seem that I am mostly speaking to new businesses in the opening section of this post. I wish that was the case, but have some of you taken a look at your websites lately? And if you just panicked because you are not a new business, but you don't have a website, you are not alone. I run into small businesses everyday that don't have websites, if that is any consolation. Make no mistake however, you need to fix that quickly.
Okay, so now you have a website that looks terrific, is extremely functional, and it bears your vision and character. Unless by some chance you have managed to miraculously turn your business into a million, or billion dollar enterprise before you had one, no one is visiting it. Most small businesses I see have a better grasp of their social media than they do of their website. Don't get me wrong, I often run across Facebook accounts where the latest post is four months old, but in those instances I cringe as I ask about their site, knowing no one has managed it in much longer than that. When you have a social media platform where the whole point is to post things, it is a little easier to keep up with. However that is the same way you should be looking at your website.
It is likely that in the process of making your website you learned that there are as many ways to make one as there are types of businesses. The same rule applies for how to manage one. An untouched website for as little as a month might as well be a year or more old. Keeping up with new and improved options to add to your site is imperative. I promise you your competitors are doing this. In fact, a good exercise to do at least once a month is pull up your website and a few of your competitor's websites side by side. Then honestly assess; if this was the only tool you had to decide which company to go with, which would you choose? An example of new and improved options would be a better online store option, or a better way to take payments. If you are a restaurant, maybe a new and better way to take online orders comes about. And if you are a business that has a popular gallery, or a bunch of photos and videos that are popular, you need to be adding to those as close to daily as possible.
Constantly keeping your website up to date and adding new and improved features and content repeatedly is the first step! I know right..... only the first step? This will keep people on your site and encourage them to share it, but how are you going to get them there in the first place? The good news is that there are quite a few ways to promote your site and increase your online presence, but they either take a lot of money or a lot of work to be successful.
The least expensive way to promote your website is to cold call or visit businesses and doors personally. You might view the term "cold calling" as a bad, but it is successful in many industries. And if you are visiting businesses and homes, the only cost of the action is the gas (which can add up but is also a write-off for business purposes). Keep in mind that if you are using this strategy you should be trying to sell your product or service right then and there in person or on the phone. Make sure you have a conversation ready and know what rebuttals to expect. I will go into this more in a future post. If you are a B2B business then you are probably doing this anyway, so if you are not promoting your website at the same time it is a big mistake.
Another inexpensive way to promote your website, and frankly one of the best because of the reach potential, is through your social media. You can certainly spend money on these platforms to extend or speed up your reach, but it is possible to use these platforms successfully without it costing a thing. Social media allows you to reach out and put a personal touch on interactions. It is easier to build a following quickly on these platforms than it is to attract traffic on your site just by telling people about it. The best part of promoting through social media though, is simply the number of people you can reach with one posting. The people that you connect with have connections. Those connections have connections and so on. It is almost an infinite web of potential visibility. If you have good content, clear messaging, and the ability to interact, then you have the ability to grow your website using this tool. Again, in a future post I will go into some strategies for building your networks on social media platforms. It would be foolish not to take advantage of this avenue when when trying to promote your website.
A third free, or at least relatively inexpensive way to to make your website more accessible to traffic is create interesting content that is popular with the search engines. As much as you might not want to, become familiar with the term SEO (search engine optimizer). This is what decides what sites come up first or last in a search for your type of business. They have fancy algorithms that decide what people will want to see most. You can spend a lot of money to be placed in a top position, but with some work you can improve your position without spending any money at all. Along with everything we have discussed so far, this is something that you can pay someone else to worry about, however you need to be a part of the process. When it comes to creating content that will be popular, my two favorites are blogs and newsletters. I like both of these options because you can control what goes out to your market, display what is new in your business, show off your expertise in a particular field, and use your websites keywords to take advantage of the SEO game. They are also excellent ways to build your email marketing subscriber list. You can CLICK HERE to take a look at more ways to create content, and the philosophy behind each. Regardless of whether you pay for it, or work for it, your big mistake in this instance would be not doing anything to nurture the visibility of your website.
There are other ways to bring traffic to your website, but I find these are three of the most effective for their value. That is important to me as a business owner, and extremely helpful to small or new businesses who want to keep up in their industries without having to spend a ton of money. It doesn't matter how you draw traffic to your website in the end, as long as you are doing it and increasing your online presence. There are very few types of businesses left that you can make the mistake of ignoring this and still keep up, let alone survive.
This last issue is one that can be easily overlooked. Whether you have a brick and mortar store or not, if you have had any success you know that attention to detail is very important. Is your store clean and organized? Does your products packaging to the product justice, or does it turn customers away? Are you constantly running out of things? There are a million details that honestly, very few customers will even notice. However that leaves some that will. I don't need to tell you that everything adds up. And the same goes for losing a sale, here and there, due to lack of attention to detail. This principle goes for your website as well. Are the colors on your site the same as in your store, or print material? Are the pictures and videos posted in a high enough quality? Does the menu you have posted match the menu in your restaurant (prices, specials, etc.)? I am listing questions like this to show you that there needs to be a checklist (written or in your head) of small details to maximize the effectiveness of your website. Even if you have a great week, month, or year, losing a couple sales here and there due to a lack of attention to detail can hurt. If your product or service costs $100 and you miss out on the sale of two per month, that is $2,400 dollars left on the table in a year. Now if your business can afford to scoff at that then thank you for reading this, but pass it along to someone you know with a small or new business who hasn't reached that level. The mistake here is thinking something as simple as colors not matching up won't directly affect the dollar amount your website has the ability to bring in.
I have made all of these mistakes myself, and I bet some of you have too. I'm hoping that if you haven't you will be able to avoid them, or if you have this will help bounce back from them. I certainly can promise you one thing: These are not the only mistakes there are to make in your business, or with your business website. However avoiding or overcoming these particular mistakes will help you to keep moving forward while you make others.
As usual, thank you for reading this post. I hope you got as much out of it as how much I enjoyed putting it together. Please remember to pass it along so others might be able to benefit as well.