Developing a Great Small Business Website
Hello again, Commotion Art readers! Today we are going to cover one of the most important aspects of your marketing: your small business website.
Whether you are starting from scratch, or have an outdated site — we are here to help!
There are a few simple questions to ask yourself before beginning any new project to ensure success. Proper planning is essential for high performing results.
What do you want to accomplish?
A small business website that just sits there looking pretty is useless, it should DO something for you. Or, a few somethings!
We had a prospective client contact us about his auto body repair shop recently. A huge time waste for his business is getting customers to authorize their insurance companies to pay his shop directly for repairs. He was looking for a way to save time.
We suggested moving to a digital signature setup on their website. A simple form customers could fill out detailing the damage to their vehicle would do the trick.
This simple change in their procedure would save them an average of one day on each project and streamline their business. Their site would be an active part of their day to day operations.
Attracting new business is another common goal, we all want our businesses to grow!
The key to connecting with new customers online is to treat your site like an ongoing marketing effort. Sites that sit dormant online without any maintenance or updates go largely unnoticed by search engines and do nothing for you.
We begin to dive into search engine optimization tips in another article, and will be covering more SEO strategies in the future.
Creating a great customer experience can be another function of your site. Adding convenience features is a good way to do this.
Having options like online payments, or eCommerce features so people can buy online are excellent time savers for the customer and yourself.
We recently launched a fully functional eCommerce site for Redbird Natural Soaps that is growing their business from primarily weekend local market sales to more online business.
Who are you targeting?
It seems obvious, you know who you are selling to, but have you ever defined your target audience?
It can help to write it down: 18-30 year old single women, 35-50 year old homeowners, 25-40 year old parents.
If you know who you are speaking to and what they care about, you’ll know where their attention is.
A parent in their late 40s will have different interests than a single college student in their early 20s. You’ll need to speak to them differently using proper content and keyword strategies.
Different age groups also view content differently.
A large percent of web traffic has gone mobile. Younger audiences are almost guaranteed to view your site from their phone, so your content should be optimized for them if that is your demographic. We touch on the importance of mobile optimization in another post.
Getting traffic to your site is important, but getting the RIGHT traffic is even more so.Free eBook — 5 Things You Can Change on Your Website to Generate Traffic
What is your timeline?
There are two benchmarks you should define when developing your small business website:
- Project completion date
- When you need it to start delivering on your goals set during step one of this article.
When you initially meet with the designer or agency developing your site, set clear goals for when you would like to have it live.
Once a goal is set they can tell you if it is feasible, and layout a production schedule. You’ll have an idea of how the project will progress and when to expect proofs.
Be realistic with your expectations.
A content heavy site can’t be delivered overnight, but if you are in a rush there may be ways to implement certain aspects of the project over time.
Quality should be your first concern, everything else should be secondary.
Communicating to your designer when you expect to see results after the site is live is just as important as the targeted completion date. Different strategies deliver on different schedules.
The obvious goal of any website is to attract organic traffic through search engines. When you rank high in searches like Google people can find your business much easier, and traffic will naturally be very high.
This type of traffic is viewed as free by many people, but achieving the tops spots of any search is very time consuming and can be costly because competition is so high. An effective SEO strategy is carried out over months and years, and takes consistent effort.
So, managing expectations is important throughout this process. A good designer will keep you up to date with progress reports on how your efforts are paying off. Tools like Google Analytics will give you information like traffic to your site, and behavior of that traffic. Over time progress can be monitored.
One way to boost web traffic initially while you wait for organic traffic to grow is through AdWords. This “pay per click” method of advertising will give you top placement in certain searches, boosting site visitors as soon as the campaign launches.
We’ll cover proper setup of this type of campaign in the future, but it’s definitely and important component to your web marketing plan.Free eBook — 5 Things You Can Change on Your Website to Generate Traffic
What is your budget?
When the time comes to set the budget for your small business website, just be upfront with your designer or developer.
Several factors will affect the price of any project, and a good agency will scale the scope of the job to fit what you have to spend. A reputable company will not try to just take your full budget for the sake of a larger profit, they will provide a higher performing site that delivers results faster.
The more involved you are with the content development of your site, the better. You know your business inside and out, but whoever is building your site is just now learning about you.
Expect ongoing costs
In addition to the initial cost of design and development, a successful site will require some level of monthly maintenance. As mentioned earlier, successful SEO is an ongoing effort.
One of the best practices to boost search engine visibility is through a blog on your site. A good blog writer will research specific keywords that your potential customers are searching for. Those search words and phrases are then used in the copy of each blog post.
Over time your site will be full of useful information that people are actually searching for. You will become a leader in your field.
If are seen as the authority on the service you’re selling, people will be happy to work with you.
Some SEO techniques can be implemented over time. If your upfront cost needs to be lower, just communicate that. A good web designer can spread services out as your website matures.
We’re here to help!
Sometimes the scope of a large project can seem daunting. Developing a success small business website is no exception if you are doing it for the first time.
At Commotion Art we have over 16 years of marketing and design experience. We are ready to help you get going — Contact us today to get started!Contact Commotion Art!