What’s the first thing you look for when you want to know more about a company or product? Their website.
These days, when just about everyone is carrying a handheld personal computer in their pockets, a website is the first place that prospective clients and potential employees will learn about you and your company. It’s also an area where many small businesses fall short.
There is a lot of time and effort that goes into creating a successful small business website, and we couldn’t possibly cover it all. There are, however, a few things to keep in mind when you’re just get started.
Here are some tips to build a killer website for your small business.
Prepare to invest in it (long term)
This is not the area where you should try and be a do-it-yourself kind of person. First and foremost: hire people to do it. But don’t stop there; trust your experts and give them the appropriate time to work on the project. You might have a clear vision and tight timeline, but you want to do things properly. This is, after all, one of the most important investments you’ll make in your business.
And keep in mind, your website should not be treated as a one-time cost. This is something that will represent your company; it needs to be updated and refreshed often. You also need to ask what you want to do with it. Can it be used to drive customers and leads? Is it filled with content that is generating leads? Answering these questions can go a long way towards developing your marketing strategy, and the amount of money you should be investing in your website.
So how much should you budget for a new website? Some business consultants recommend spending 5 to 7% of gross revenue on marketing, with half of that marketing budget spent on online strategies.
Know your audience
Think of an email you’re writing. The language you use, and even the content of your message, will change depending on who you’re sending it to. Your website isn’t much different. Sure, the ultimate goal is to reach the widest amount of people possible, but you still need to define certain nuances in your audience. Are you hoping to reach people that are well-versed in your particular product and services? If so, what’s unique about your offering? Or does your audience need to be introduced and educated on what you can offer?
Here are some questions you should be asking yourself:
- What demographics are important to you? Where people live? Their gender, education, or income? Etc.
- Do I need to have multiple languages?
- Are there particular segments of people I want to reach? (E.g. executives, students, etc.)
- What problem or challenge do they have that can be solved by my products and services?
Answering these questions will help you determine the kind of website you need. But don’t feel you need to re-invent the wheel. See what similar companies are doing in this space. Who are they targeting? How are they doing it? Are they using a particular tone or style? Learn from them, and then aim to do it better.
Set your goals
A website — especially a small business website — cannot do everything. Setting a few measurable goals will make things easier for the people you hire to build the site; it will also make it clear whether or not your website is working for you. A great way to go about goal setting is to use the SMART model to ensure that goals are:
Some common objectives for small business websites include generating brand awareness, showcasing past work, and hosting content that can generate new client leads. Your challenge will be to figure out how they can be made SMART.
Keep it simple
You know how big business websites are often cluttered with information, thumbnails, widgets, links, and somehow it’s still easy to find what you’re looking for? That’s because they have a team of people studying this stuff like genetics, and modifying things daily. Odds are you don’t have the same resources available to you. That’s ok. The single most important piece of advice we can give a small business is to keep it simple.
Focus on the audience you want to reach, and the most pertinent information. What is it they really need to know?
This will also help you decide what sort of style to go with. For example, would a more vintage website design work with your audience?
Don’t add content you can’t keep up-to-date
Are you actually going to update that blog you want? If not, don’t include it. Less-than-fresh content makes your website look out of date. The same goes for social media links. If your Facebook fan page has 12 likes and no content, don’t bother to include it.
Have a careers page
Your website isn’t only going to be used to attract clients. It will also be fundamental to attracting top talent to your team. After all, what’s the first thing someone does when they are considering an opportunity? They research the company online. A dedicated careers page can not only list available positions, it can also tell potential employees why your company is the best possible place for their future.