BizSite Blog

The Most Important Question to Answer Before You Build Your Website

Carlfred Giles - Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Building a website can be fun. You’re putting your company out there for people all over the world to see. You get to tell others about your passion. You get share your service with the rest of the world. You get to SELL and make $$$!

Everyone needs a website. Years ago when telephones came about they were quickly adopted by businesses as the first means of customer contact. Today, would you open a business without a telephone? Of course not!  And so it now goes with websites. Websites legitimize your business and are the first thing people go to when trying to find your service (and for those of you still using a phone book, check out Google Places…)

 

So what’s the first thing you should do before creating your site?

Ask yourself why you need it.

Occasionally the simple answer is “just because everybody else has one”. If that’s your answer, then you need a brochure site. A brochure site is an information website that provides basic data about your business. Usually it has pictures, hours of operation, services provided, and contact info. Brochure websites can be REALLY cool – surely you’ve browsed through ours…

However, most companies if they really think about it, can use their website for more. MUCH more. And THIS is the most important question of all:How can I get the most use out of my website?”

 

Some obvious ways to maximize your site:


  • Calendar of events

  • Collect potential customer contact data

  • Take customer sign ups/waiting lists


But let’s go a step further and think about your business specifically: are you a church? Warehouse? Insurance agent? Hydraulic company? A cleaning service? What are the things that take the most administrative time and how can they be automated so that the public can help themselves? Do you get phone calls all the time asking what’s on your menu? Post it online. Does your secretary spend most of her time rescheduling appointments? Let clients do it themselves from your site. Is your cash flow slow at the first of each month because customers forget to pay? Make it easy for them by accepting payments online. Think of what would make your world perfect and easy, and start with that!

 

Other ideas for good use of your website:

  • Message boards

  • Payment collections

  • Customer/Product reviews

  • Appointment scheduling

  • Account login

  • Sell products/services

Instead of trying to model your website after your competitor, think about how you can make a website do a little extra work for you. And if you get us to design the site, you won’t have to worry about it looking as good as your competitor…it will look better…

smartphone traffic to Ecommerce sites up 103 percent since 2011

Chris Brown - Tuesday, September 04, 2012

How important is mobile optimization to your ecommerce website? If going mobile isn't already one of your priorities this year, you might want to clear some space in your strategy for it. The following infographic, brought to us by the folks over at digital marketing technology company Monetate, highlights the impressive growth in traffic (103%!) from smartphones to leading ecommerce websites over the past year.

The infographic also calls attention to the battle for smartphone supremacy between Android and iPhone devices, both of which represent the most growth in smartphone-driven traffic to ecommerce sites. Furthermore, the graphic analyzes the various shopping activities of smartphone users as well as the mobile marketing tactics currently being used by marketers, with website mobile optimization topping the list at 46%, followed closely by mobile apps (45%), and trailed by mobile email optimization at 35%. Check it out!

Read more here

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Why It’s Important To Have A Mobile Website

Chris Brown - Monday, July 23, 2012

These days everybody is obsessed with having the latest technology, which is why it’s more important than ever for small business owners to recognize the importance of having a company website so that new and existing customers can find out information about you whenever they want… Because if your business isn’t visible online, then it won’t been seen as up-to-date and relevant, so chances are people will look elsewhere for a company that is.
After all, they’re not going to spend a lot of time and effort looking through directories and newspapers etc. just to find you, when it would be much quicker and easier just to choose a company that is online.

But now, just having a website is no longer good enough, thanks to the surge in popularity of mobile devices, such as smart phones and IPads; which allow people to ‘surf the web’ whilst on the go.

This means your potential customers are no longer restricted to laptops or the humble PC when it comes to looking up businesses on the Internet…Now, they can be sitting on a bus, in a restaurant, or even shopping.

In fact, in 2011, 7.1% of all worldwide browsing activity was through mobile devices.
So if they’re Internet access isn’t restricted anymore then you need to make sure that their access to you isn’t either!…And this is where mobile websites come in. You might think a normal website is good enough because it can still be found using a mobile phone, but you’d be wrong.

The shocking fact is that 90% of small business websites don’t actually work on mobiles. They are difficult to navigate, the writing is too small, and the page is far too big for the screen…All extremely frustrating for any potential customers trying to quickly find information to get in touch with you…Perhaps so frustrating that they give up on your site and visit a rival’s whose site works perfectly on their phone.

This might not seem like a big deal, but when you consider that most of us only visit websites for phone numbers, addresses and opening hours, and that 41% of us browse these sites on our phones – A figure that by 2014 is predicted to rise to 80%…That’s a ridiculous amount of, not only potential customers, but also money, to miss out on for a problem that can be easily solved just by making sure you have a mobile website!

Because the whole point of mobile websites is that they are simple and easy to use with only the information a mobile user will be looking for.

That means prominent opening hours, map of where to find you, and a click to call phone number…After all, the easier it is to find this info, the quicker they can make that all important call to you!

For more BizSiteSolution information on our mobile opportunities: Click Here

Source: Click Here

Top 10 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Website

Carlfred Giles - Thursday, July 28, 2011

1. Your Business is Open to the World 24/7, 365 Days a Year
Unlike your company's office that may be open from 8-5, Monday thru Friday, your company 's website is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There are many different time zones that may affect your business, which is why being on the web makes it time convenient for everyone.

2. It's Your Online Brochure / Catalog That Can Be Changed at Anytime
A website is easier, cheaper and quicker to update than print material. Its' capacities are almost limitless which allow you to provide users with more comprehensive information. This will save you money on printing and distribution costs as well.

3. Reach New Markets with a Global Audience
On the Internet, you aren't that local little business anymore. You have the potential to be seen by millions across the globe. Did you ever think your company would have the possibility of doing business around the world? Well, now you can. Without a doubt, the Internet is the most cost effective way to trade nationally and internationally.

4. Improved Customer Service
By providing answers to questions on your website, sales and information requests can be processed automatically and immediately, whether someone is in the office or not. Online forms can be used to allow customers to request quotations or ask further information. Save costs by allowing users to download invoices, proposals and important documents.

5. Present a Professional Image
For a small business, a well-designed web site is a great way of instilling confidence and looking bigger than you actually are. In this day in age, customers assume that you already have a website. By now, your primary competitors probably already have a presence on the Internet. If they do, keep up with them and find ways to make yours better.

6. Sell Your Products
Why pay expensive rent, overhead, electric bills, and all the other costs that go along with owning a bricks-n-mortar business? Selling in cyberspace is much cheaper and a good way to supplement your offline business. Providing secure online ordering is very affordable for even the smallest businesses.
7. Promote Your Services
Lawyers, doctors, financial consultants, entertainers, realtors and all service oriented businesses should let customers know that they have a choice. Millions of users are referring to the web and are using company's websites to make major decisions when they need a specialized service.

8. Gather Information and Generate Valuable Leads
You can gather information about your customers and potential customers by using forms and surveys. Rather than going out and getting leads, let them come to you. This is a great tool for prospecting targeted customers looking to use your products and services.

9. Provides Instant Gratification
People are busy and don't like to wait for information. Give them what they want, when they want it. If your product is suitable, offer them free samples or trials to download. This includes pictures, brochures, software, videos, Power Point slides, music and more.

10. Great Recruiting Tool
Whether you are looking for talent or posting job opportunities with your company, your website is a great recruiting tool for building your business.

More Great Tips!

The Do's & Don'ts For Website Success!
• Do invest in a secure online ordering system.
• Do keep your audience in mind and create copy that personally speaks to them.
• Do create a clear and compelling sales message.
• Do update your site content and keep it fresh and current.
• Do anticipate and answer your visitor's questions.
• Do check your site to ensure all forms and links are working.
• Do include a call to action on each page. You won't get business if you don't ask for it.
• Do include your contact information.
• Do offer links to programs like Acrobat Reader needed to view your site information.
• Do choose a Web host that provides exceptional service, minimal down time, and consistent site backups.
• Do carefully check your content for spelling and grammar mistakes. Errors are unprofessional and show a lack of attention to detail.
• Do title each page to be search engine (and bookmark) friendly.
• Do use a URL and domain name that accurately reflects your business or company name and is easy to remember.

...and

• Don't confuse your visitor with too many topics on one page. Organize information logically.
• Don't let your site become outdated. Your credibility will disappear if you offer Mother 's Day specials just in time for Father's Day.
• Don't include too many colors, fonts, or font sizes that distracts your visitor.
• Don't yell at your visitor by using all capital letters.
• Don't take your customer's privacy for granted. Create a privacy policy and stick to it.
• Don't insult your customer by selling his information to third parties.
• Don't ignore or delay customer requests. Return all customer inquiries promptly because you never know whom they may recommend you to even if they don't buy from you.
• Don't add a “visitor count” to your site. No need to brag how many or show how few visit.
• Don't include graphics that fail to add importance to your site.
• Don't use silly clip art unless absolutely necessary.
• Don't add unnecessary "extras" that will take a particularly long time to load.
• Don't ignore customer complaints, just because you're on the Web doesn't mean your business won't be affected by dissatisfied customers sharing their experience with others.


10 Website Strategies for Entrepreneurs

Carlfred Giles - Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This article was originally published by Gregg Murray

The number of website strategies you need to implement for an effective online presence is a real head-spinner. I found it much easier to navigate once I created a list of the most important website strategies. Focus on these one or two at a time. As you do, you’ll find the process of creating or recreating your web presence much less stressful.

1. Simplicity
From the design of your website to the amount of content on the page, keeping things simple is one of the best things you can do to make life easier on yourself. A website with a clean design, simple navigation and ease of use is what will provide the safest solution to your web building dilemma. Not only will you save time, you’re also likely to save money. Even more importantly, your visitors will thank you.

Use my “Uncle Leo” test method to find out if your website is user-friendly enough to use. This is where you find the least technically-savvy person you know (I use Uncle Leo), have them go to your website, and ask them to find a specific piece of information or to take a certain action. If Uncle Leo can do it, then you know you’re on the right track. And that means you’ve done your job well. Here are a few more tips on keeping your website simple.

2. The Sales Funnel
Your website exists to help you build your business. By seeing your website as a potential sales funnel instead of just a flashy online brochure, you’ll generate more web leads and more opportunities for new business. The sales funnel process begins with driving potential customers to your site, keeping them there with a professional look and compelling content, inviting visitors to join your email list (throughout your site), and finally – following up with them to build trust, authority, and a bond. Once you have the sales funnel process incorporated into your website, you’ll find more potential customers reaching out to do business with you. Learn more about using your website as a sales funnel here.

3. Words That Connect
One of the most frequent mistakes I see solo-preneurs and entrepreneurs make is creating web copy that doesn’t connect with real people. This happens most often with us business and marketing folks over 40. We have a habit of taking our old media thoughts on copywriting and applying it to new media. In other words, we are more likely to keep things a bit stiff and stuffy instead of writing our web copy in a conversational tone. The Internet is the ultimate personal medium, and it’s important to keep the copy we feature on our website a bit more casual and conversational. If you can pull this off, your website visitors will feel more connected with you, and thus… BINGO… do more business with you. Here are some pointers on creating website copy that connects with your audience.

4. Make SEO Easy
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the key to being found online. Problem is, there’s information overload. People write books (really, really long books) getting into all the minutia of getting ranked higher in Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. The good news is that the 80/20 rule plays out big time with SEO strategies, and that means there are just a few things you need to do to achieve higher search rankings. This includes making sure your keywords are incorporated in your page title and your page description and are scattered at a 3-5% ratio throughout your web page. And if you’re targeting locally, always incorporate your city or town name as one of your primary keywords. Finally, take every opportunity to have your website linked to from other websites (and the bigger the better). Do just these items and your search ranking will make a huge leap. Need some pointers on SEO? Check out this free SEO lesson.

5. A Touch of Email Marketing
Emailing your clients and prospects is a dance of moderation. Send your peeps more email then they expect and they’ll leave you. Don’t email often enough and they’ll forget about you. So, what’s the right mix? For most entrepreneurs, once to twice a month is usually the sweet spot. Just remember that the key is to always provide helpful information up front in your emails and keep the pitch as secondary. If you do want to send a specific pitch to your email list, never do it twice in a row. A little bit of moderation will go a long way. Learn more about maximizing your email marketing.

6. Get Social
Without exception, I can’t think of a single business that won’t benefit from incorporating social media into their website strategy. The big three are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Facebook is perfect for most small businesses, especially when you’re wanting to reach a local audience. Twitter is excellent for connecting with those that spend more time than most online. And LinkedIn is a great connection tool for any business professional. Pick one. You’ll love it… It’s easy, and it’s free. Get more out of your social media with this guide.

7. Blogs Required
You gotta’ have a blog built into your website. A blog allows you to easily create single page posts about events, specials, tips, and company information to your website visitors. Not only do you get the benefit of keeping your website content fresh, you are also creating new content that search engines are on the lookout for. It’s a big win-win. A blog post every week is great for entrepreneurs, but once every two weeks or even once a month will still serve you well. Learn more about business blogging here.

8. Google Tools
If you don’t have a Google account, get one, it’s free. Yes, you’ll have to get a Google email address, but you don’t have to use it, except as your login name to get the other free Google goodies. Once you have a Google account, you can access some super important free tools that will help increase your website traffic. My faves include Google Places, Google Analytics, and Google Webmaster Tools. Even if you don’t know how to use these tools yet, go get your free Google account now, so you’ll be able to incorporate them soon.

9. Staying Connected
The biggest problem those of us have that already have a solid website is staying connected with our website visitors and those that are on our email list. The best advice I can give you is to always stay connected enough so that you’re not forgotten. That comes back to creating new and engaging blog post content several times a month and distributing great email content several times a month as well. I can’t tell you how often I’ve received a new and repeat business because I always find a way to stay in touch with my clients and prospects every 2-3 weeks. And with the quick access of Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, you can stay in touch with your social networking audience in no time as well.

10. Managing the Madness
Once the website is done, the email marketing is rolling, the blog is being updated, and the social media is in place, you have to manage the beast. Don’t beat yourself up. The secret to managing your website and online presence is “chunking.” That means instead of going to your website several times a week to do little things that can wait, keep a list and do it all at once as needed. My list every week usually has 3-5 things I may want to update. When I do them all at once, it saves my time and gives me more peace of mind… and those are two things no website owner wants to be without.

About the Author:
Gregg Murray is an award-winning website consultant, online marketing manager, and certified SEO. He is the author of Website Blueprint: The Beginners Guide for Small Business Owners and director of Website Elementary, an online home-study course for newbies. For more free website help, download Gregg’s Small Business Website Checklist.


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