In my last 3 blogs we reviewed the 3 pieces of your small business’ online presence:
We then discussed the 3 primary ways to get Traffic (Search Engines, Online Ads/Google Adwords, Viral Marketing) and of course reviewed videos explaining some basics of Viral Marketing and Search Engine Optimization for Small Business. We then looked at some of the best tips for optimizing your Google Adwords campaigns in my last blog.
This time around we’re going to take a closer look at your website. From my last 3 blogs you have a lot of great ways to get people to your website, but how do you know your website is any good? Let’s break this into 3 sections:
- Goal of your website
- Tracking or Analytics
1. Goal of your website – This is so important to understand as I think most people never even consider this point. For most people they have a website because they’re supposed to have a website and then they leave it at that. That’s not at all true, the goal of your website is to sell something! Since my small business is service-based, my goal is to sell an appointment or, in other words, get the potential customer to contact us. For other businesses the goal is to sell a product directly online. If you fail to sell your product or appointment via your website your secondary goal should be to collect your visitor’s contact information for future marketing. We’ll discuss basic ways to do that in the future.
2. Content – Since your goal is to sell your visitor something, the content of your website should be geared to do just that. How do you accomplish that? You answer all the questions that might prevent them from buying from you. That’s what your content MUST do if your customer is ever going to make a commitment to purchase from you. Here are the basic points you must cover in any marketing to earn a customer. I call these the 4.5 points of successful marketing:
- What problem can you fix for me? – Address and detail their problems to demonstrate that you understand their needs.
- Is your solution the best? – Explain how your solution to their problem is the best solution available.
- Why should I work with your company? – Compare your business to your competition to show how ONLY your business can meet their needs and requirements.
- Why do I need your solution now? – Dollarize their potential losses by not having your solution so they understand that every month, week, day or hour that they wait they’re losing money by not working with you.
4.5. What am I risking? – Make the process of either buying from you or contacting you for an appointment as risk-free as possible.
The biggest negative business owners point out to me when addressing these points is that now their competitors can see their whole “sales pitch”. My response to that is firstly, so what? They’re going to find it one way or another anyway. Secondly, if your business and product can’t highlight enough advantages, benefits, and differences to make it IMPOSSIBLE for your competitors to steal your sales pitch then you need to go back to the writing board and come up with better copy and/or a better business plan.
3. Layout – In the online world you basically have 4 types of websites:
- Simple – You list your business name, phone, address, a short About Us, a Contact Us page and maybe even a bit about your products. These websites do nothing more than provide contact information for people who already want to do business with you. Most visitors, however, don’t care about you until you educate them on how you can make their life better.
- Corporate – Every major corporation has one of these. It has all the standard pages for Contact Us, About Us, Investor Relations, Products, Store-Finder, etc. etc. It answers a few questions of the 4.5 points of successful marketing but often is bordering on the too Complex described above.
- Long-winded – These are those scrolling 1-page sales pitch websites that you just hate to visit. However the truth is, these are some of the best tracked, best-designed, best-selling websites in existence. Millions upon millions of dollars in internet fortunes have been made through this style of website. These designers have often done their homework and tweaked their website sales-machines to perfection so don’t write these off as unprofessional or ineffective. An unprofessional website is the one that doesn’t generate sales – nothing more.
So how do you optimize your site to generate the best results without getting too far off-track like the site descriptions above?
- Make it EASY to contact your business. Their should be a phone number, email, and/or contact us button on every page so that it’s visible at all times.
- Never make anything more than 2 menu’s deep (unless you sell millions of products). This is a lesson learned from the “Long-winded” guys. You can’t direct people through the 4.5 points of successful marketing if you have too many clicks. People want their questions answered right away and in a logical progression and if they have to click through more than 2 menus deep to get those answers they’re much more likely to leave.
- Relate your pages to each other. I was just searching for car parts for my 2008 Mitsubishi Evolution X on a performance parts website. The website had some awesome Youtube videos of their 10 second Evo with a listing of the parts they sell and used on that car. Only problem was the list of parts didn’t link back to the spot where I can buy the parts. After 30 minutes of navigating around I’m still not sure if the parts I found were the same ones they used on their own car! The point is, don’t make every visitor have to go back to your home page to find what they need. If you reference another product, idea, or reason to do business with you on an individual page, you better have a link to your reference.
- Provide testimonials. You can say all you want about your solutions and business however that never has the same effect as third-party testimonials from your customers. If your website doesn’t have those, start gathering them right away. Gathering testimonials is literally as simple as asking for them so be sure to ask!
4. Tracking or Analytics – Since we’re all looking for the simple answer let me give you just that. The most important performance number for your website is your conversion rate. This is the number of customers created divided by the number of visitors. In other words, if you have 100 visitors and 4 bought from you (or scheduled an appointment for a service-based business), your conversion rate would be 4% (4/100). Some benchmarks for conversion rates by industry are available courtesy of Fireclick.com where the current internet average conversion rate is 4.3%. It’s also helpful to talk to other people in your specific industry if possible. As a point of comparison, my conversion rate in the 4th quarter of 2009 was 6.5% for my local service-based business. In a future blog we’ll discuss ways to really analyze your Google Analytics stats to determine how to improve your conversion rate.
To your website’s selling success, Bryan