People are searching for goods, services, and businesses online, and the introduction of the smartphone enables internet access anywhere, at all times. It is therefore crucial that your business has an online presence where potential customers can find you before they find your competitors.
This guide will help you to understand why a website is key to business success and will give you an overview of some of the most important aspects of creating an online presence.
Why your small business needs a website
It’s astounding that there are still small business owners who do not have a website. A website gives your business credibility, it provides your customers with information, and it can help to generate sales leads.
A website enables you to differentiate your business, influence customers and suppliers within your industry, spread ideas, benefit from search engine optimisation to appear in local search results, share your company story and information, and build an email list.
For more information on the basic features of a website, how to register a domain, and how to create the content and design of your website, read the BizConnect Reference Guide on Setting up a Website.
Is online for you?
Not all brick-and-mortar businesses will thrive online, but the fact is that many people turn to the internet to find information these days. If you’re looking at taking your business online, it’s essential to carefully consider whether your offering is suited to the internet and what level of investment in a website will make sense for you.
If you have a pool maintenance business, a simple site with company history, products and services offered, customer references and contact details will suffice. If you’re going to be selling products online, you will need a more sophisticated website.
It’s essential to be familiar with the shopping habits of your target demographic. You need to know how they know where to buy the products you sell, where they go to buy them, and what motivates them to choose their elected online store.
1. Lead generation
Most intelligent companies are improving their websites to generate more sales leads.
One simple way to generate more leads from your web site is to include a contact form on key pages. A contact form is a secure way to collect information from prospective customers and to communicate with them in future.
2. Content Marketing
Content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is the creation and sharing of valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell. It means educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.
The primary goal is to obtain opt-in permission to deliver content via email or some other medium. The idea is that repeated and regular exposure builds a relationship that provides multiple opportunities for conversion.
Content marketing involves delivering requested value-adding information – such as white papers, testimonials, webinars and video – that creates trust, credibility, and authority for the business providing that value.
3. Shopping cart
A shopping cart is a form of e-commerce software that enables people to make purchases online. Simply, it allows online shopping customers to accumulate a list of items for purchase and place those items in their shopping cart. When they checkout, the software calculates a total for the order, including shipping and handling.
If you are going to be selling products online, you will need to set up a shopping cart.
There are a number of shopping cart providers online, like PayPal, DesignCart and Shopify. Prices vary depending on the shopping cart options. For a new website, use a cheaper cart with basic options.
To sign up for the service, use your company’s banking information so that the service provider can deposit online transactions into your account. You also need to set up a user name and password. To set up your cart, you need to enter item information and prices into the appropriate form. Then you simply add the shopping cart to your website.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of increasing a website’s ranking in the search engines’ search results. The higher your website is in the rankings the more visitors it will get. SEO is one of the most important elements of internet marketing. Without SEO your website will probably not show up on the front page of Google and will therefore get no traffic.
You need to have your keywords mentioned enough times to help the search engine understand exactly what your site is about.
Submitting articles to quality article directories, and then providing links back to your site, is a great way of getting quality backlinks.
No matter what your budget, you can display your ads on Google and its advertising network, and pay only if people click your ads. You create ads and choose keywords, which are words or phrases related to your business.
When people search on Google using one of your keywords, your ad may appear next to the search results. That means you're advertising to an audience that's already interested in you. People can simply click your ad to make a purchase or learn more about you.
6. Gallery/Catalogue of services
A searchable online catalogue or gallery of your products and services will equip your website with a searchable online catalogue that replicates your company's offline sales and customer service processes.
7. Mobi site
A mobi site is used by mobile devices such as smartphones for accessing websites via the mobile web. Many of consumer-focused companies have realised how promising the mobile platform is and have equipped themselves with a mobile-friendly alternative to their primary websites so that they can provide an accessible user experience on mobile devices.