Your business needs a website to help people find you, to explain your products and services, and to tell people how to become a customer. In addition, your website needs several key features that make sure it is working hard to promote your business and help you grow.
- Before You Start: You have a business. You may already have a business website, or you may be considering creating your first business website.
- Learning level: 1 | Social Media Basics
- Article Last Updated: Saturday, March 2, 2013
Your Business Needs A Website
Many small business today think that social media is all they need online. They use Facebook and other tools instead of building a business website.
That’s a big mistake.
But so is having a website that isn’t working hard on your behalf.
A business website has three important jobs:
- Builds awareness. Google is the new yellow pages. A website helps people find your business.
- Describes your business. Your website should explain what you do, including your products and services. Your website is your chance to tell your business story to potential customers.
- Invites new customers. Your website should make it easy for every visitor to become a customer. It must provide the information they need to go from being a casual website visitor to a paying customer.
A well designed and maintained business website is the most important part of your business online. Think of your website as a cupcake, and social media as the frosting. Together, they make a powerful combination for building your business.
Website Features Checklist
Your business website should work as hard as you do. Here’s a list of features every website should have to really contribute to your business presence and growth.
Every business website should:
- Explain what you do. People can’t decide if they need your products and services if they are not sure exactly what you do. This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many websites never actually say what the business does for its customers!
- Provide contact information. Whether someone has a question or they want to become a customer, make it easy to contact you from your site. Also, make sure that you are monitoring contacts from your website during your business hours.
- Provide current news and announcements. Have a new product? Putting on a special event? Did your business get a great write-up in the press? Your website should be the place for customers to find these kinds of breaking news items.
- Help people solve common problems. This is your chance to show off your smarts and build trust with your online visitors. Don’t give away what you sell. Instead, think of this as a happy hour appetizer you offer so people will want to buy the full dinner.
- Make visitors feel welcome. When someone lands on your site, you want to greet them and encourage them to check out your entire site.
- Tell who runs the business. Lots of small business websites make the mistake of trying to look bigger than they are but not identifying themselves. Don’t hide behind your computer. Let people see who you are and tell them why you started the business. Make a human connection.
- Show your passion for your business. Let people know what you care about, and why you are running this kind of business. What really makes you excited about your work? What makes you excited to get up in the morning. Don’t keep your passion to yourself.
- Explain your products and services. Your website should list each product and service, and explain each one so new visitors understand how you help people. When possible, include photographs of your products or people using your services.
- Tell people how to become a customer. Don’t just dangle your products and services in front of them. Invite people to become a customer, and tell them how to do it. After someone decides to buy from you, make it easy for them!
- Provide driving directions to your business. If you have a location that is open to the public, you need to provide a map and driving directions to your site. Your website should help potential customers find you!
- Share feedback from satisfied customers. You can talk about how wonderful your products and services are, but potential customers really want to hear what your customers say. Include customer testimonials as part of your website.
- Collect email addresses from people who want to keep in touch. You can’t rely on social media as your primary way to share information with your customer base. Your business needs an email list and your website should make it easy for people to sign up.
- Allow people to search your site. A simple search box helps people to find exactly what they are looking for on your website. Don’t make them go through every page to find what they want.
- Track webiste visitors (anonymously). You need to know how many people visit your website each day, along with the most (and least) popular pages, and how long visitors spend on your site. This helps you improve the effectiveness of your site and understand your site visitors.
- Provide a look and feel consistent with your brand. In other words, your website should match your business cards and your marketing message. A unified message helps people to identify with your business.
Together, these features put your website to work for your business online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even when you are on vacation.
Your turn: How does your website stack up? Have you visited business websites that were lacking in some of these critical features? Share you insights and experience here.
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