The Internet is an amazing place where, if you play your cards right and work hard, it will present many new business opportunities—opportunities that were probably out of reach many years ago. Traditional methods of advertising have changed. Methods for which customers used to find your business via phonebooks and newspapers have given way to online websites. Your potential customer base has expanded to the entire world.
Your website is today’s salesperson. Like anyone in sales, a good first impression must be made on a potential customer in a short amount of time or they’ll move on. A website, your sales mechanism, is important to the success of your business. It’s more than just a place for people to find some information about what you do—it’s an integral part of your overall business plan.
If you don’t have a website, it’s time you did. If you currently have a website, perhaps it’s time to take a look at it with fresh eyes as if you’re experiencing it for the first time. Following are some important considerations on what your web presence should say about your business and your brand.
Pay attention to the design of your website. The look should be up-to-date, appropriate for the type of business you own, and exhibit professionalism, showing you take pride in what you do. Forty-six percent of people say their number one criteria for determining the credibility of a company is the first impression they receive when visiting a website.
Clear and Concise
Your website should clearly state what you do and why you are better than your competition. Content should be helpful, structured around common questions that are asked, and convey your core message. Keep it simple—the ability to quickly scan your site and immediately understand who you are and what you do is key to keeping a potential customer interested.
In a recent survey, 8 of 10 people say they use their mobile devices to research online. More than half used their mobile device to make purchases. Consider these statistics: 91% of U.S. adults own a mobile phone and 4.3 billion people worldwide use mobile phones. That’s a lot of potential customers you could drive to your website. If your business site isn’t working well on mobile devices, 61% of customers say they will take their attentions—and wallets—elsewhere.
Spend money to provide a fast user experience. In the world of gotta-have-it-now, people have come to expect quicker responses. In fact, 40% of users will abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load. Page loading time is obviously an important part of any website’s user experience. Website visitors tend to care more about speed than all the bells and whistles we sometimes want to add to our websites. Additionally, page loading time is becoming a more important factor when it comes to search engine rankings.
Tell Your Story
Customers want to know who you are and what you do, your attributes and the details that set you apart from your competition. Answer the questions, “What is unique about my business? Why should people buy from me?”Your story is what connects you to clients – it makes you memorable, differentiates you, breathes life into your brand, and incites a response from your target market.
The ‘Home’ page and the ‘About’ page are two of the highest viewed pages on most websites, so take the time to really craft your message and present it well.
The idea of third-party validation—testimonials, awards and recognition, positive news stories—is particularly important in boosting the credibility of your business. As we’re all bombarded by thousands of advertisements each day, it’s becoming more common for consumers to tune out marketing messages, and even worse, mistrust the information presented. Because of this emerging distrust among consumers, using third-party validation on your website and marketing materials is a sure-fire way to help customers trust your business. By having someone else reinforce how great you claim to be, you gain that much more credibility.
Presence on Social Networking
Social networking has become a popular form of validation among customers.These websites offer small and medium-sized businesses access to their clients never before available or affordable. Use networking tools wisely to post thoughtful, relevant communications, and respond to comments in a timely manor. Add content to your page as often as possible, and keep your customers up-do-date on all that is new and exciting.
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is an encryption system that helps protect the privacy of data exchanged between a customer and a website. If you take credit card information, customers want to know that their information is secure if they do business with you.
Ease of Use
The fewer the steps, the more likely someone will complete the process. If people can’t find what they’re looking for, they won’t buy. Study your usage patterns to see what trends there are and what should be made front and center. If possible, stay ‘above the fold’ which means have the important information viewable before a customer has to scroll down.
It’s important to make sure visitors are easily guided through your website. Let them know where to go and what to do once they get there. Customers want signs and buttons to be able to buy or sign up for more information. If they’ve progressed to this point of your website, you have them captured—grab them!
All pages should have the same look and feel—same font and color scheme, navigation buttons in the same place.Ensuring your website design is consistent all over the various types of pages and forms gives the website a unified feel and pulls it all together, improving the user experience and increasing conversion rates.