October 10, 2012
Do you want to sell products online? You will need an online shopping cart and a payment gateway as part of your website.
Keep in mind, you cannot build a successful website without first knowing its purpose.
Building a site on purpose is not the same as a purpose-built website. A purpose-built website helps you achieve specific business goals – such as generating more leads or selling more products – based on what you want your website to do for your business. If your website isn’t purpose-built, you’re probably missing out on the very thing you most need your site to do.
If you’re like many small business owners today, your current website is a few years old, hasn’t been updated in a while with anything meaningful, and hasn’t been integrated into a multi-channel strategy (use of social networks, mobile channels, e-marketing, etc.) for marketing.
If this describes your current situation, I have some good news for you: today’s online technologies have changed small business marketing forever. It’s time to embrace new ideas, fresh channels, and effective marketing methods, starting with a purpose-built website.
Before building or re-building your business website, think about the purpose: what do you want it to do for your business? Here are some options:
* Generate Leads
As mentioned earlier, to generate leads you will need good search engine rankings so people can find your site easily, good social visibility (active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.), and strong calls-to-action on each webpage to make it easy for visitors to take the action that moves them to the next step in your sales or conversion process.
* Convert Leads
If you would like to convert leads on your website, you need credibility. Years of experience, testimonials, examples of your work and compelling calls-to-action can help convince visitors you have exactly what they need, you are good at what you do and they can trust you.
* Sell Products
Obviously, if you want to sell products or services online, you will need some type of e-commerce shopping cart and a secure, easy way for customers to pay online. Clear contact information with a physical address will also help instill trust. A money-back guarantee or hassle-free returns can turn browsers into buyers on an e-commerce site.
* Customer Support
Many consumers prefer to look up answers, get customer support, or discover information online rather than call a support number where they could be stuck on hold indefinitely. Providing secure forms, customer downloads and support documents on your website gives customers the instant answers they want and can ease the workload of your support staff as well.
* Establish Expertise
If you want to showcase your expertise, you need to include a variety of resources that demonstrate thought leadership and proficiency in your field. Downloadable resources such as case studies, whitepapers, product data sheets and e-books can really solidify your reputation and establish you as a leader in your industry. Be sure to include testimonials as well to demonstrate your expertise creates happy customers.
Websites often have more than one purpose. For instance, your site may need to generate leads and establish expertise, depending on your own business goals. But, today, there are so many new and exciting online marketing channels, even the smallest business can benefit from an integrated, multi-channel strategy with a purpose-built website at its core.
Your website should be the center of your marketing universe. Make sure its purpose is well defined so it can deliver remarkable results for your business.
Lauren Hobson is president of Five Sparrows, LLC. Five Sparrows provides professional website and online marketing services to small businesses and non-profits.