With that in mind, let's have a look at what your website could be saying behind your back, both good and bad.
|Image source: Abhijit Mhetre|
I'm not making any money
This could be the worst thing that your site could say about you - a real slap in the face. Here are a few things that will guarantee your website shouting this from the rooftops:
- Using free domains for a business site (companyabc.blogspot.com, companyabc.wix.com, etc)
- Having a 'make a free website banner with...' at the bottom of your site
- A poor design, obviously put together by a stressed out small business owner while working late at 2am
These things can really hurt your small business by creating a terrible first impression. The solutions are easy and really don't cost that much at all - you can buy a domain name for a few dollars and you can purchase a decent website template for around $30.
For more on building your small business website (specifically on whether or not you should enlist the help of a freelancer), please see this post.
As we all know, website visitors want to be able to find information quickly - this includes your contact details. Here are a few things to bear in mind when it comes to making yourself as contactable as possible:
A few thing you should do:
- Your most important ones should be clearly visible on every page of your site
- Make sure that the details are accurate - you'd be surprised how many email addresses are typed wrong or how many phone numbers miss a digit
- If you're active on social media sites, make these links prominent - many consumers will want to connect with you there too
A few things you shouldn't do:
- Don't hide your physical location (especially if you are a service based business) - this is reassuring to prospects that haven't dealt with you previously
- Don't offer only a contact form to your prospective customers
- Don't use a premium rate phone number as your main point of contact - nothing screams 'I don't want you to call me' more than this
In the end, look at it from your prospects point of view - does your website seem to make it difficult to make contact, or is it hassle-free and straight forward to do so?
It's all about me
Sure, it's good practice to make sure that your future customer knows that you're a safe bet to do business with. However, there's a fine line between that and building your website into a bragging platform that'll achieve nothing but turning your prospects away.
Here are a few things to consider here:
- Your blog shouldn't just be a bragging platform for what's going on in your business - use it to help your prospects fix problems/learn new things instead
- While it's a good idea to talk about your achievements and what you can do, you should only do so under the banner of how this can help your customers
- Similarly, if you talk about the goals you want your business to achieve in the future, talk about how you can do this while helping your customer reach theirs
The fine line here is actually very fine - you definitely do want to let your customers know how competent you are, but you certainly don't want to overdo it. I think the best way to handle this is to do as mentioned above - whenever you say something good about yourself or your business, explain how this helps your clients. That's a win/win situation in my mind anyway.
You're just a number to me
When someone lands on your site, they want to feel like you're making an effort with them. While they probably won't expect the red carpet treatment, the last thing they want to do is feel like they're just a number to you.
There are a few things you can do to make sure that you don't make them feel like this:
- Talk in the second person to build more of a connection. For example, 'I will help you...', rather than 'I help my customer base...'
- Never say 'Join my list...'
- Never ever refer to potential customers as leads, contacts or opportunities :-) Understand that you can do this accidentally by naming a landing page a 'lead capture page', for example
This is a really important point that's easy to take care of - a good rule of thumb is simply to talk to people through your website as if you were talking to them in person. Just pay close attention to the language you use on your site - if you are unsure, get a friend or colleague to double check for you.
I'm taking my business seriously
Now we're talking. One of the best ways to reassure your web visitors is to help them understand that you are taking your own business seriously and that you're going to be a reliable partner for them going forward.
There are lots of ways in which you can do achieve this goal - here are a few options:
- Are you a member of any trade organisations? If so, list them
- Have you developed any partnerships with other key businesses? If so, list them too
- As per the first point above, a well designed website will go a long way to proving this point. It doesn't have to be flashy, it just has to look professional and fit the expectations of your target market
Think about this from your own point of view. Sometimes you'll visit a website and think 'Yep, this is a business I want to deal with'. And sometimes you'll just think 'Avoid'.
Whichever one you - and your own prospects - choose will be largely driven by how your website looks, how easy it to use and the type of content you decide to include. It's not hard to get this one right - it's just a case of making sure that you look like you can be taken seriously.
I'll take care of your problems for you
Basically, this is what your website visitors are looking for - someone that will take care of their problems, whatever they may be. The first step to achieving this goal is to make it clear that you have a clear understanding of the problems faced by your target market.
Here are a few things to think about here:
- Make sure you clearly convey exactly how your product or service solves problems - this is what your web visitors want to know and it shows that you understand them right off the bat
- Offer case studies that show how a client went from having a problem to being problem free with the help of your product or service
- Explain how you ended up creating your product or service - was it to solve a problem that you couldn't find a solution for elsewhere? If so, this can go a long way to showing that you really do understand your prospects needs
Basically, if you can show that you understand the problem and know how to fix it, you'll be well placed to win the business. And you're website can easily convey this information if you include the right kind of content.
I'm trustworthy, check me out if you want
If you want to show that you are a credible business, prove it. There's a lot of different ways in which you can do this nowadays, here are just a few:
- Link to your credit rating score from one of the major credit analyst sites
- Have you been featured in any prominent newspapers, trade publications or websites? If so, get their logo on your site and use it to link to the feature
- Have a detailed 'About Page' - when you expect your first-time customers to part with money, it's a good idea to let them see who you are
Having this type of thing on your site will help to make sure that it screams credibility and trust, rather than the opposite.
You'll like working with me, these people did
Finally, one of the best things your website can say about you is that other customers have enjoyed working with you previously. This goes a long, long way toward settling the mind of new clients.
As well as offering case studies as mentioned above, you could also think about incorporating these into your site:
- Embedded tweets from happy customers who are thanking you through Twitter - social proof is awesome
- A short, snappy review (including a picture and business name) from a happy client at the top of your product/service pages
- Show your score from a third party review site such as TrustPilot or Trip Advisor
Especially if you are a new business, there is nothing (to my mind anyway) that will help your bottom line more than authentic, honest, positive reviews from existing or past clients. You don't need a lot either, just enough to show that you're consistently delivering a great job to your customers.
All of the above can probably be summed up by understanding that your website isn't something that you quickly put up and forget about. Instead, I think it's helpful to understand it as a living, breathing part of your business - one that can give as good or as bad an impression as you can in person.
Taking care of the points above will go a long way in making sure that your site talks favourably about you and that it welcomes your new customers, rather than turning them away.
Thanks for reading,
By Alan MacDougall
Got a nagging marketing question? Ask me here.
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Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy advice blog, written to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.