As a small business owner, your website needs to make a big impression.
That’s because your website is often the first time customers see your brand. Your website is the new storefront, demo room or handshake. Customers Google or Yelp before they shop, make an appointment or book a reservation. In fact, more than 70% of your customers are researching online before shopping locally.
More and more small businesses are building websites each year, but still, many small businesses are at risk of falling behind. About one-third still don’t have their own website, and many are not user friendly or offer their customers what they need.
Having no online presence — or a poor website — means missing out on valuable leads, customers and fans.
Ready to stay ahead of the competition with your small business website? Here’s 5 things every small business website needs.
1. Strong User Experience
There’s nothing more frustrating than having to zoom in on a tiny smartphone screen or wait for a website to load.
Today, customers expect your website to be easy to navigate and quick to load, no matter the size of screen or how your customers access your site.
Plus, slow websites are a leading factor in potential customers hitting the dreaded “back” button.
That’s why a strong user experience is imperative. Develop a site that caters to your customers, or work with a website designer who understands user experience. That means stepping into a customer’s shoes and following their path to purchase.
Ask these questions to start:
Does the site load quickly?
Does the website work on mobile?
Can customers easily access the information they need to convert?
How can I make the customer experience smoother?
2. About & Contact Pages
Think of your website as your business’s concierge. Its primary job is to educate and help.
Most customers coming to your website are looking for the basics. Where are you located? What are your hours? How can they order?
It may seem like a no-brainer, but inaccurate, incomplete or nonexistent information is just another barrier for your customers to overcome. According to at least one measure, nine out of 10 small businesses do not have an email address on their site, and about half do not have a contact phone number.
If your website can’t provide the basics — like strong “about us” and “contact us” pages — what does that say about your service?
At the bare minimum, make sure your website includes:
A description of your business
An overview of products or services, along with pricing
An active phone number and deliverable contact email address
Hours of operation
Review this information on a regular basis to ensure it is up-to-date and accurate for your customers.
Your website is set up, easy to navigate, mobile friendly and includes relevant information. Now, it’s time to wait for the customers to roll in the front door, right? We wish.
Marketing is central to capturing leads and breaking through the noise — and no, it doesn’t need to be costly, either. Blogging, email and social media are all low- or cost-free marketing methods for small businesses.
First, develop a simple marketing plan outlining your sales goals, marketing channels and budget. Identify your ideal customer, and think about how you might appeal to their needs and desires.
Consider how these simple marketing tactics might help you reach your goals:
Create an email newsletter
Build and post to your social media platforms
Invest in search or social media ads
Ask customers to sign up for a loyalty or membership program
Write a blog or develop other helpful content such as instructional videos, checklists, podcasts or e-books
Offer benefits for referrals
Customers love to try what they can see. High-quality photos are essential for small businesses to show off their goods and stand out from the competition. Plus, it’s low-cost and low-commitment, as long as you have the right help.
For restaurants, a well-lit and vibrant photo of a favorite dish can be the difference between a sandwich that looks delicious and disgusting.
Photos are also key to helping customers understand what you sell or provide. Consider a hairdresser with before and after photos, or a floral shop owner with bright photos of wedding arrangements.
Keep in mind that your small business website’s photos are often the first time customers are seeing your business, so it’s best to hire a professional photographer.
Here are a few tips to get started with taking photos for your small business website:
Take photos in natural lighting
Rent or use an updated camera or smartphone
Watch out for discolorations indoors
Avoid app filters, heavy editing, emojis or other digital add-ons
5. E-Commerce Platform
Your main business goal? Sell. So why not let your site do the work for you?
An e-commerce platform streamlines your sales and makes the process smoother for customers. It’s a win-win.
Today, e-commerce is more essential than ever. Eight in 10 Americans are shopping online, and 15% have made an online purchase in the past week. Still, more than three-quarters of small businesses do not have an e-commerce platform, missing out on a big boost to their bottom line.
E-commerce looks different for every industry. For restaurants, an online ordering system can make it easier for customers to fill up on takeout or grab delivery on a rainy day. It also cuts out the middleman who needs to write down any phone order, and helps ensure the restaurant gets the order right.
For retailers, e-commerce means a 24-hour storefront, and for service providers, it means busy parents can book haircuts or house cleanings whenever they get a break in their schedule.
Here are a few questions to consider when getting started with an e-commerce platform as a small business owner:
What are your business and sales goals?
What is your timeline?
How automated would you like the e-commerce platform to be?
How will you fulfill orders?
Find out how 312 Sites can help you reach your small business goals with a fresh website design and an e-commerce platform that sells. Contact us today!