These days there are plenty of companies selling business websites. Many of them make it sound like all your business needs to be successful is a couple pages floating around on the internet. But in reality, a website is just another marketing tool in your toolbox. By itself, your website can’t solve all your marketing problems. Don’t get me wrong– well thought-out websites are absolutely worth the time and money they require to build and maintain. But in the digital age in which we live, your business needs more than just a website if you want it to be as effective and profitable as possible.
Be In The Right Place At The Right Time
One reason why a website on its own might not be enough is because people may never see it, and a business website that nobody sees is as bad as not having one at all. There are a few reasons why your site might not get seen, and they have to do with things like your website’s speed, its search-engine optimization, how much competition you have, and more. But no matter the reason, if people aren’t finding your business website online, you’ll need to do something that gets them there. You might find yourself having to drive customers to your website rather than the other way around.
Make Sure People Are Hearing The Truth
Did you know there’s likely information about your business online? Whether you know about it or not, companies like Facebook, Manta, Yelp, and more will create profiles for your business where people can leave reviews. The information they give about your business might not even be accurate.
I’ve seen business owners have their home addresses listed for any wacko on the internet to find. I’ve seen links leading to non-existent websites. I’ve seen delivery people drive far out of their way because Whitepages is listing the wrong address. Companies like Yext and Dex, who have partnered with everybody from Yahoo to Yellowpages to Mapquest and a million random internet directories, will probably try to charge you to update their information about your business. While they’re at it, they may also try to sell you on a bunch of additional garbage you don’t understand and will never use. Give in to their extortion or fight against it; either way, make sure the information floating around on the Internet about your business is as accurate as it can be.
KISS: Keep It Super Simple
Even if you have a website, and all of your information online is correct, some people will still have problems. Some people will be using old devices on slow internet connections, meaning they’ll give up and leave rather than wait for your website to load. Maybe they’re not good at using the internet, or maybe they get confused by complicated websites and obtuse navigation.
Whatever the explanation, some people just won’t get much out of your website, even if they’ve seen enough to convince them to buy. You could have the best, most intuitive website in the world, and a few people are still going to fall between the cracks. Don’t lose them forever just because they’re not internet-savvy; get them back in your corner by understanding their particular circumstances and making it easy for them to choose your products and services. Make sure your site loads quickly, is easy to navigate, and provides the kind of information they came looking for, or never knew they needed until now.
Getting The Most From Your Website
Here are a few important things in mind that will help you get the most out of your website:
First, remember that an unseen website does nothing for you or your customers. Sure, paying for search engine optimization could help attract organic traffic to your website, but it could also be a waste of time and money depending on your industry and customers. Before you pay for SEO, ask yourself if you’d be better off putting your time and money into some other form of marketing, like ads on TV, radio, newspapers and magazines, paid Facebook ads, outbound calling, direct mailing, and/or personal selling.
Keep Things Consistent
Ensure your brand name and product/contact/company information is consistent across all channels. Use the same name for your business on cards, stationary, mailings, and your company and website. Make sure you use the same logo, colors, and other brand elements as well.
Become The Keeper Of (Accurate) Knowledge
Be proactive about your details. You won’t be able to control all the information about your business online, but you can ensure your website, social media profiles, Yelp profile, Amazon seller’s account, Chamber of Commerce entry, and more are accurate. Google your business and check out the results– you might be surprised by just how wrong some sources are.
Know Your Strengths (And Weaknesses)
Understand what your website excels at, and what its limitations are.
Some people love creating content for their website. Others like interacting on Facebook and Twitter. Others are too busy for anything except servicing their clients and customers. If you like writing, creating, or interacting, DO IT! If you are passionate and knowledgeable, your customers will thank you for it.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to do these things, DON’T waste your time, or anybody else’s, with “coming soon” messages, empty pages on your website, or email inboxes and social media accounts you’ll just ignore. You can still have an effective, high-converting website without micromanaging every interaction– just provide the information and answers your customers are after. Anything else is just frosting on a cupcake.
Working Smarter Is Still Work
Some people save time on the phone or writing emails by providing that information on their website, and simply referring questions to those pages with answers. This can be a great way to save time and frustration, but never forget that you’re supposed to be helping your customers, not just yourself.
Even if you do provide information online, make sure you still have a way for people to contact you. Some may have questions not answered on your website. Others will want to contact you directly. No matter their reasons, never force your customers to interact with you only via faceless, soulless electronic messages.
Your Website Isn’t The Only Tool In Your Toolbox
If people can buy products from your website, don’t rely on your website alone to attract customers, make sales, or provide support. Use a mailing system like MailChimp to send customers emails that make them aware of promotions and special offers, or provide info about how to use, maintain, and benefit from their purchases. Sometimes, especially for high-dollar purchases, calling a customer and speaking with them will do more to secure their continued patronage and satisfaction than any number of unsolicited autoresponder emails. Find ways to show people that you’re not just a website, but a company dedicated to providing the benefits you say you will.
Use The Right Tools For The Job
I could go on and on about the ways you can integrate your business website with other parts of your business’ marketing machine, but the most important thing to take away from all this is that a website is just one part of a greater whole, and unless you treat it as such, it will never accomplish the goals you have for it.
So have a well-designed, attractive, fast and secure website that’s search-engine optimized to the hilt if you’ve got the time, skill, or budget for it. But in doing so, don’t neglect your responsibilities to your customers, or all the other tools that can help bring your business success. Make sure your customers can find you and communicate with you no matter where they are– whether it’s on your website, your Facebook page, your Chamber of Commerce listing, or an online directory.