21 Jul 10 amazing steps for the success of your small business website
You don’t get a second chance to make a first good impression, particularly on the web. Everything is just too prone to being rejected out of hand.
In February 2012, Missouri University of Science and Technology conducted an eye tracking study with some of its students to gauge ‘first impressions’ of websites.
While it took 2.6 seconds for the students to scan the whole website, 7 of its sections caught their attention the most – Logo, Main navigation menu, Search box, Social networking links, Site’s image, Textual Content and Bottom of the website.
These crucial factors form the basis of user engagement, but for conversions, your small business websites need much more.
So, let’s discuss how to turn a simple visitor into a potential customer in 10 amazing steps.
1. An Uncomplicated introduction!
Dropbox homepage’s 5 subheadings say-‘Your stuff anywhere’,’Wherever you are’, ‘Share with confidence’,’Safe and secure’, and lastly ‘Dropbox for Business’.
And that sums up all there is to know about them. Even the quickest first glance would tell you what they are about.
Similarly, the moment you land up on Mint.com, in less than 2 seconds you understand they manage your finances. And accordingly you decide, you want to stay further or not.
In fact, no matter on which page someone lands up, let them not feel lost. They’ll probably never return if they don’t understand your reason for being.
2. Be upfront ‘About Yourself’
What are you about? Most people confuse the About Us page with ‘what they do’. It should instead be ‘who are you’, about the founders, their backgrounds, career paths or just a casual introduction to their team. Putting faces to the names would be even better. Also, a small story about what led to their business works well. Even though, not every visitor coming to your website with a purpose would be interested in knowing you, don’t let those down who genuinely do. You can include what you do too, but it should be smartly interlaced with ‘Who are you’.
Shopify’s about us page for instance gives you a little timeline and a brief description about them. It also acquaints you with their team. Drag your cursor to any of the thumbnails and the name of the team member would appear. Mailchimp is another example. Copyblogger’s About us page is as comprehensive as their blogs. There are many more examples of businesses who make a lingering impact with their About Us pages.
3. Any FREEbies on the platter?
Often times, a form subscription appears on a site, giving away something for free. For instance Kissmetrics gives a free case study to track the ROI of your social media campaign. Just fill in your email address, your website domain, and it already owes you something.
Away from the regular jabber about what’s right for your small business website, ask yourself, what can you offer your audience for free. It’s one of the basics of good old marketing, that seldom fails. It creates brand awareness. Attracts your target group and helps them genuinely. CNET offers real help by giving a battery of free software, and is quite popular among average Internet users.
Think of something your customers would benefit from and which would cost you negligibly. Put it up on your site, gauge the response and plan ahead.
4. Dependable Hosting
A slow site is annoying and the one that fails to load is infuriating.
Make absolutely sure none of this happens.
Go for Shared hosting. It’s a cost effective choice and you can expect close to 99% percent of uptime.
Find a hosting provider who offers you email, phone and chat support. It would cost you anywhere between $10 to $20 monthly.
If you want to go for an open source software for content management, blogging, or eCommerce, go for a Linux plan.
Just because your business is small, doesn’t mean you should squeeze in your requirements and stick with a Free hosting plan. You won’t get the right flexibility and have to deal with issues like-reduced support, limited space, incapable database, no FTP capability etc.
5. Make Reaching You ‘a breeze’
In the US around 60 percent of small and medium sized firms don’t have a phone number and roughly 75 percent don’t have an email address on their contact page.
Don’t let your visitors go on a wild goose chase.
Ultimately you want them to take an action and contact you. A physical contact address, a phone no. and email address is the most basic requirement.
You can even add a location map and hours of operation on your contact page.
In fact, a phone number must be there on every page of your website, be it on a side bar or the top left corner.
Ideally your contact information must be there on all your landing pages. So, a customer can place an order directly from there. It speeds up the process.
Remember-the sooner a business deal closes, the better it is.
Also, include a contact form. Give your visitors a chance to interact with you. Answer to their queries, build relationships. It all helps in generating leads.
6. Testimonials, Case Studies, Customer Stories
Authentic testimonials (never a fabricated one- they can hurt your reputation irreparably) help in generating a good word about you. Try giving a picture of the testimonial provider and a link back to their profile (Linkedin, company profile, etc.). A good word directly from the horse’s mouth can serve you well.
FreeAgent.com’s testimonials appear on their home page, while
Desk.com’s Customers page is dedicated to detailed testimonials that includes videos too.
Similarly, case studies serve as excellent learning material. They’re rich in problem solving content and are a great source for gaining practical knowledge. Besides, it is about real people and real troubleshooting.
Also, after going through your case studies, customers get a fair idea of what you can do for them. Many websites call it Customer Stories too.
Woothemes has a refreshing Customer Stories page, so does xero.com and campaign monitor . All of them offer comprehensive knowledge about what they did for their customers in unique ways.
7. A ‘Brain friendly’ Web design
Our brains have a capacity to accept information, when it’s surpassed we start rejecting it. Most visitors are already stuffed with information through news, media,advertisements,etc.
Give your visitors enough motivation by touching a chord through a picture or a theme. Try evoking an emotion through a story.
If visitors have to try hard to find a connect, consider them lost.
For instance, Momables is a simple site that gives out menus for tasty school lunches for kids. And it gives visitors no trouble in spotting that.
Rules for keeping people engaged are a lot to do with simplicity. Give them their sweet time to know you, don’t impose yourself on them. Three things might help:
- Don’t intimidate them with your content. Break it into short, readable paragraphs so they remain comfortable.
- Using bullets is excellent.
- Highlight your major points.
Likewise, choose colors that go with your target group and industry. You may include an introduction video to further ease it for your audience. A well made, purpose-oriented video can impart information with entertainment.
8. Navigation must be a ‘smooth sail’
Good navigation happens if the driver doesn’t fret about not knowing the way. It’s the same with your website. It has to be easily interpreted by your visitors, being too smart or cryptic will spoil the fun for the visitor. It should be clear to them what they’re supposed to do on your website.
Whether its placing an order for a product or service, becoming a member, buying a subscription etc. Not directing them properly would be distancing them from you, which will be a hurdle in a potential sale. They must know what’s on offer.
Pepper your site with actionable words that guide them correctly. Your Call to Action must be prominent.
For instance, Birchbox gives you enough motivation to ‘learn more’ and guides you to their subscription form without hassle.
Links to your most significant pages must be amply clear. Having dropdowns in the navigation menu is a great idea, so visitor can spot the content under all the headings from all the pages.
9. Busting queries before hand (FAQ)
Most customers are brimming with queries during two occasions. First, just before a conversion happens (while making a payment). Second, much before they get in touch with you, while browsing through your website.
Which is why an FAQ page is significant. Get into the shoes of your prospective buyer, look for their possible doubts- in terms of pricing policy, quality, technical specifications, everything that might concern them.
Refer to your dealings with customers, jot down the queries they’d put up. Many a times questions revolve around cancellation of orders, money back policies, etc.
Questions should be concise. And Answers should be the simplest of explanations. Remember people coming to your website might be from different languages and cultures. They may not agree with a complicated style of writing.
It should be a clear ‘No’ for a no and ‘Yes’ for a yes.
10. Content is King (It’s not a cliché, yet)
Of course you’ve heard this one. So we’ll tread away from the obvious and just add a few points to your existing knowledge.
- Be clear in your mind why are you writing whatever you’re writing, whether it’s a line, paragraph or a blog.
- Make sure your potential customers feel you’re an expert in your field.
- They should also feel you’re not only about your business, you’re also interested in sharing and educating.
- Uniqueness in not only liked by Google, it’s also liked by real visitors.
- Make it a combination of images, memes, infographics, videos, interesting fonts, etc.
- Keep updating and sound authentic in whatever your convey.
- Neither waste your audience’s time in telling them anything irrelevant, nor puzzle them with extraneous words.
- Try to engage the reader. Give them matter to chew over.
There are other necessary things. Like a Responsive Web Design, which is becoming the need of the hour, then Security (SSL certificate) is most important if you’re selling something. Having a Blog has been always vital. Also a basic SEO and if possible a Media page.
Besides, if you have an old, not updated website- going for a Redesign might be a good idea. But seeing a clean slate, don’t be tempted to go overly creative and complicate things.
Finally, rules are plenty, yet there aren’t any rules. Most of it is common knowledge. Feel the way a customer would feel. Don’t go overboard in creating a ‘WOW’ factor.
Unleash the small wonders. They make a bigger impact!