3 Flavors of Business Website

Does every business really need a website?

Unequivocally, yes. Even if you feel your business attracts through word-of-mouth only, you need a website to back up the professionalism of your in-person image. That said, how much investment you need to put into your site depends on your business, your marketing plan, your industry, and your stage of business development. For example, a start-up with a lean budget and a new idea should get started with something small, like a landing page for lead capture and market testing. On the other hand, a business looking to rank in search engines for a popular keyword needs a lot more content and tuning.

We can show you what areas of a site are worth spending money on. We also want to help you see which areas can be kept trim to fit your budget. As a small business ourselves, we are aware of the challenges entrepreneurs face in getting a new business off the ground. We will help you recognize areas in which a little extra spending now matters later.

The Online Business Card

In the digital world, your website is the equivalent of your business card, but with much farther reach. Depending on the industry, up to 81% of clients check out a business’ website before purchasing anything from the business. If your business has no website, you are missing out on opportunities to reach new clients that you could never reach by word-of-mouth alone. Even word-of-mouth recommendations are more effective because you make your business easy to find when your clients and prospects go looking for you.

Your website is your chance to make a strong impression that you are a professional business which values quality. Consider this your chance to wear your nice business suit to a job interview with your prospective clients.

This type of site can be simple, but it needs to be done well. Here’s where you can skimp – site size. You don’t need a large site to make a good impression if the small site you have is done well. Here’s where you shouldn’t skimp – good design. Looks aren’t everything, but they do matter for a first impression. If your site is poorly designed or not mobile friendly, you’re likely to send the wrong message.

The Local Business Site

Do you have a local business whose market is in the real, not the online world? Use your site to amplify the reach of your real-world location.

  1. Your site can drive traffic to your brick-and-mortar location by providing the essential information to help visitors decide to call or stop by. While phone books used to be the main resource where customers found a business, they are nearly extinct now. Register your site in the online realm directories – Yelp, Google My Business, and Angie’s List, for example.
  2. Customers can compare businesses in seconds from the comfort of home. Consider how you stack up to your competitors’ sites. It is essential for this first impression to be competitive.
  3. Your lights might be off but your business doesn’t have to be.  A website never sleeps. It can attract interest even when your business isn’t open.
  4. Be where your customers are. 70% of US Households now use the internet when shopping locally for products and services according to LocalVox

Again, with this situation, it’s OK to start small, if you need to limit your investment. But don’t the skimp on platform. Go with a quality WordPress-based site now and save yourself the headaches later. Choosing a DIY site-builder at this stage of business is guaranteed to cause issues – like finding out that you can’t add a key new feature into your site: scheduling system, store, or payment processing.

The Marketing Platform Site

Maybe you’re a little more established, and you’ve got a marketing plan and budget. Here you need a website as a public forum to prove that you are the best in your field. A polished site with quality content can become a quotable source for an individual or media outlet looking for information. Creating shareable content presented in a professional manner can help turn your current clients into marketing agents. Need to rank on Google? This is the kind of site you want – content robust, thoughtful user experience, good calls-to-action.

This type of site has a long-term plan to show potential clients that you are a knowledgeable, trustworthy professional, winning their business is much easier. Also, when you get attention or awards through media such as Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau, or even local news sites you need a website to funnel new clients directly to your business. Those venues have already done the most difficult part of recruiting new clients: identifying potential customers. It is essential to build the bridge that turns interested customers into happy clients.

A critical investment for this type of site is a blog: your pedestal for having an extended conversation with your online audience. Like the smaller site types, good infrastructure and design are also a given. Finally, you want to make sure that the site has the right start for performance – quality, scalable hosting. Imagine a day when your content goes viral and make a plan that allows your site to flex its resources to avoid a crash.

These are 3 of the most common business sites we see. We work with business owners to help guide them to understand where and how to invest in their online presence. Want to learn more? Contact us today to learn about our packages and custom offerings.

Marketing plan mistakes you can avoid, and how.

Effective sales and marketing plan has both short AND long-term strategies in place. Short-term marketing efforts can help give your business the infusions of cash it needs to run. But to be truly successful, you also need to start sowing the seeds of your long-term marketing plan.  A quality website is a key part of that long term plan. Here are some of the top mistakes we see when it comes to your long-term marketing strategy.

#1 | “What longterm marketing plan?”

Seems fairly obvious that we should all have one, right? But we’re humans and we often make decisions that aren’t based on logic. Why yes, I will have that third doughnut. No, it’s fine. I can start my exercise plan tomorrow. Usually, these decisions aren’t intentioned. We plan to be strategic someday. But we don’t sit down and make that strategic plan. And that lack of plan can be ultimately fatal for our marketing efforts.

“The world is becoming more inbound. It’s growing more authentic, less interruptive.”

Hubspot’s State of Inbound, 2016

Think about it from your own experience. Why did you make your last major purchase? Was it because someone called you during dinner and finally convinced you that today was the day you needed to buy that thing? Or was it brand loyalty? Was it that you’d been looking for a while, and you were finally ready?

The landscape of reaching your customer is always changing. But one of the biggest changes in a decade is the rise of inbound marketing. Moving from a mentality of cold calling and paid advertising to an approach where you develop a position of expertise to attract an audience. Then you stay in touch with that audience. Then you’ve already got their loyalty by the time they are ready to buy.

We build the website foundation for your inbound marketing efforts. In that process, we help you clarify your vision – whether that’s drilling down on your target audience or clarifying the way you communicate your product message.

#2 | Efforts without strategy

“I have been doing things for well over a year and I haven’t seen any return. Marketing must be a waste of time/money/both.”  

Making an effort without putting a strategy behind it is arguably just as bad as making no effort. Your time is valuable.

From the get-go, we ask questions to start honing your strategy. We put data tracking in place to help you learn more about how that strategy is working on your site. We help you analyze that data to identify the right fit for your specific situation.

#3 | Making big efforts instead of small, consistent ones.

This is an easy trap to fall into. Everyone starts January with high expectations, right? But consistency is what helps you stay in front of your customers, so you’re ready when they are.

Just because it looks consistent on the outside doesn’t mean it has to be consistent on the inside. Especially if you are a small business, it can be a struggle to do something on a regular basis. We can help set up automation and schedules on your site. What looks like regular TLC is actually a single, focused effort that set you up for months to come. Or we can apply regular content TLC to your site for you. We offer blog management content that’s engaging and original.

#4 | Expecting results without time or effort

Lots of people expect that one minute they’re launching their site, and the next minute the lead harvest is rolling in! Or, they plant that site, and never do anything to it ever again and – voila, it’s producing something useful. No. In the real world, if you do that, you’re growing compost & disappointment. That’s it.

Mistaking your website for a short term strategy means that you’re definitely going to get discouraged and give up before you see results.

We help you set realistic site expectations & goals, based on experience working with a variety of business owners. We can save you time and money by steering you away from ineffective or misleading promotion strategies.

#5 | Not diversifying

“The only marketing that works is (word of mouth/networking groups/pay-per-click/etc.)”

It doesn’t feel like a mistake. You’re probably partially right. But how many people do you know that are still saying: the only marketing that works is the Town Crier? Or even: placing a newspaper ad? Especially when it comes to your long-term strategy, it’s important not to put all your eggs in one basket. These strategies take time, and it only takes one disruptive event to render some strategies completely useless.

When we build a site, we invest in quality infrastructure. We don’t cut corners where you’ll never know any better. We consider marketing strategy, digital strategy, business goals, design, and technology infrastructure. So that when the time comes to change directions, your site is ready to handle that.

Feeling lost? Marketing isn’t your thing anyway? Contact us today. We can help you lay the foundation for your future success.

Design your website to grow your business.

This past Saturday, we were live on 740 AM KVOR on the show Our Town Stars. Did you miss it? You can listen to the podcast here.

We design your website to help earn you new and repeat business. What’s the secret sauce? There are 5 important elements to a successful website, but the main premise is this: think of your website as if it were a sales employee in your business.

use-your-website-to-grow-business

Set goals for your site

A savvy business owner would not hire an employee and then give them nothing to do, or even unclear objectives. The best managers give clear, achievable goals for employees, and the same should be set for your new site. Determine 2-3 very specific goals for your website, and then make those goals clear throughout.

Design your website to be scanned.

We love to read. But our experience with the online realm tells us that the online reading experience is much more about effective scanning than dense reading. So design your website to help your site visitor quickly absorb information by:

  • Using lists and/or infographics to quickly call out key details.
  • Using call-to-action bars, sliders, or sidebars to emphasize your site conversion goals.
  • Valuing page space in descending order: Top Left, Top Right, Bottom Left, Bottom Right. Put critical information closer to the top left.
  • Making a page for every service. This will help site visitors quickly find key information about your business, whether humans or search engine bots.

Great sales employees understand how to efficiently connect customers with the product or service that best fits. Similarly, good design in your website helps it actively guide your site visitors to find what they need as quickly as possible.

Design your website for business growth.

Give your website the resources it needs.

The best and most dedicated sales employee can only do as well as resources allow. While a website could be expected to handle several hundred customers at once, even sites have limits based on your hosting. Give your site the hosting resources it needs. Don’t put a video-heavy site on budget hosting. We work with a local partner, 9th Node Networks, to match each site we design to that just-right level of hosting resources.

Create an ongoing development plan.

Even an excellent salesperson benefits from long-term development. Put a plan in place to keep your website evolving. Not only does this help with search engine ranking, but it also helps you keep an ongoing conversation with your audience and stay in touch with existing customers. Good results do not happen overnight – not with people, not with websites. Give your site time to start working for you, and if need be…

Evaluate and adapt.

Over the course of time, adapt your website for what is working and not. Make sure you have site analytics so you can see traffic patterns on your site. See where you lose visitors on your conversion pages and adapt according to what the data tells you. Fire your website if it doesn’t do its job. Hire additional websites, like custom landing pages. Stay in regular touch with your analytics system so that you understand how best to change your site to respond to how customers interact.

Key Takeaways

Don’t treat your website like a giant online brochure. Treat it like your newest sales employee. Train your site to be effective in representing your business and earning you new and repeat business by following these five steps: set goals, use design effectively, provide adequate resources, make a longterm plan, and evaluate and adapt.