Running a business is becoming more complicated than ever, and your presence on the web is becoming more vital to marketing and customer retention than ever before.
The web is continually changing and the technologies to best present your business are becoming much more powerful.
Is it time to update your website?
But I have a website
“But my business has a website – it doesn’t really do anything for us, but we have a website”
This is a comment I often hear when I work with businesses wanting to increase their online sales and promotions, as well as their overall profile. Just having a website that is not continually updated, without new original and fresh content, and that doesn’t take advantage of modern optimization techniques is a problem.
Your website is an ever-growing, ever-changing platform upon which you adapt to the global or local economic changes in technology, customer base and products or services. A website is never complete.
The four pillars that give a website a purpose
A good website will convert into customers. This may mean reading your content and contacting you, filling in a form, talking about you on social media, linking to you from a blog or buying a product or service. Without conversion, a website is just not working for you as well as it should.
The first question a visitor asks is, “Who are you?” He or she wants to know about your company, what you do, why they should work with you, if you are an expert in your field, and who you work with. The people running the business are much more interesting than a corporate face or logo. If those people are connected to social media, and have articles they have written, they become an authority on a subject, which builds trust.
If you could hear what your customers are saying on the way out of your office or store, imagine how useful it would be? Now if you could listen to them talking on social media and be able to respond not only directly with your customer, but also in the manner in which you run your business. A website goes beyond social media, in that it provides a place for you to create articles in response to customers and showcase the changes you have made, as well as provide a backbone of customer support.
Many websites do the first 3 in our list very well, but education and resources is a section of so many websites that is missing. Everything from blogs to product and service showcases can be used to provide deeper insight into your business. Something as simple as answering the questions of consumers on your website, listing a Google map and responding to comments or questions online all help a visitor feel important and that their voice is being heard. Plus an educated customer is the best kind, since they will know exactly what they want or need.
When you search for your website, and you can only find it by entering your .com address, it is a big problem. You can spend lots on Pay-per-click ads, but even if you get lots of traffic, will it convert into a customer?
One of the chief complaints of website visitors is that they can’t find what they are looking for quickly. The challenge is to design a menu system that works for both visitors and the search engines as well.
If a website looks dated, has older colour schemes, layout, images, styles and overall look and feel, it’s time for an update. If it loads too slowly, it will have problems on mobile phones and tablets – which are quickly becoming the main method to access the internet today. An outdated, slow website looks like an uncared for business – no one will stay long enough to see what you do.
Content is the emperor of the Internet. Google uses it to rank you website, customers respond to it, and it is one of the most vital part of all online marketing.
While content is vital, unique content is particularly important, since duplicate content hurts your website performance. When the content is unique and speaks to a customer in an easily scanned layout using visual design techniques, people are more likely to stay, read and convert to customers. If people can tell quickly what your business is about – all the better.
Generally I advise a website overhaul every 2-3 years to take advantage of the changing space of flows in which the internet resides. Technology for the web updates daily, as does the way in which we search and use websites – staying up-to-date can be overwhelming if the process is not built into an overall plan.
Take a look at your current website. What do your customers say about it? When was the last time you updated it? Have you worked hard to ensure it performs well on Google? The ways in which we work together are becoming more complex as the web integrates more closely with our physical world. A website can be more than just an extended business card if you create a beautiful platform that pays attention to colour, layout, style and new technology techniques such as HTML5, as well as content that is engaging, educates and inspires action.