To turn site visitors into new customers some small business
websites provide an online informational brochure. While other
small business sites attempt to close the sale online and
generate revenue by selling their products or services through
their e-commerce site.
With either of these two site models your key is to,
~ attract a new potential customers to visit your site and ~
then to be motivated enough to want to do business with you.
Your site is like your store front that you not only want people
to drop by but you want them to come inside of your store and
want to buy!
You as a business owner you must determine exactly what you want
to accomplish with your site. Is it to generate inquiries about
your business via the site or phone, or would you like to handle
actual sales through your site?
Most of us know too well that in business, we rarely get a
second chance to make a first impression. This is especially
true with our small business sites.
Try to put yourself into the shoes of your site's first time
visitor. What is their initial response when they first view
your site? Some of the questions that they may have are:
~ Is this company trustworthy? ~ Are they experienced? ~ Are
they professional? ~ Are they going to be able to give me what I
What is your site's look and content doing to answer these
questions? What is your site's look and content stating to your
visitors about your business? What is it doing to turn your
visitor into a customer?
The fact is, that if your site looks unprofessional, piecemeal,
out-of-date, or just thrown together, people will probably think
that's how your business is run.
Your business site should be about information first and "look"
second. Especially with e-commerce and buying products sites --
it should be easy for potential customers to find the
information or product that they are looking for, purchases it,
and then check out.
So with all this in mind, how can you stand out from the crowd?
How can you attract site visitors, turn them into customers, and
make your small business site a real revenue earner? Here are
some tips to help you:
1. Insure Quality
One of the most important facts about your site is that it is a
window for the world to view your product or service business.
The design and maintenance should be treated as another aspect
of your ongoing marketing effort to the world.
Make sure that your site's content looks fresh and reflects your
business. Sites that are full of poor graphics, colors and
spelling mistakes are not the sites that visitors will want to
do business with. You wouldn't send a brochure or a sales letter
to potential new customers with such mistakes in them, so don't
do it within your site.
2. Getting Around
Remember that not everyone uses your site in the same way. So
provide different ways to reach your information or products
within your site. Easy of navigation (the way that visitors get
to the things they want on your site) means that visitors may
choose the route that suits them.
3. Contact Information
Include phone and email contact details on each page of your
site so that visitors and customers have a way of contacting
you. This also provides visitors a method of contacting you for
more detailed information to help them make a more confident
4. Stay Current
Make sure that clear and up-to-date information on your products
and pricing are provided. Do you have a new product or service
that you are offering? Do you have a recent press release or a
current customer testimonial letter? All would make good content
for your site. Just make sure that all information within your
site is fresh and current, and not a couple years old.
5. Hosting Service
The actual processing of orders is done through a web host
(generally a computer "server" not at your business). Your
website hosting service makes sure that your site is up and
online 24 hours a day and to keep your payment details secure.
In my experience, the best site hosting services are generally
found locally and not through a national hosting services. The
big national and international hosting services may advertise
their cheap hosting fees as a hook to get you to sign-up with
their service. Then you may find that their reliability
("uptime") and support services are not as you had hoped they
Look for website hosting firms that stress their reliability
("uptime" percentage), fast and reliable servers, technical
support for you, web files storage space, and your access to
your site's statistics. Cost should be a secondary
6. Site Marketing
Too many small businesses treat their site as a stand-alone
marketing tool. Your site is really a part of your whole
marketing package. It should be part of your on-going
advertising, newspapers ads, and direct mail.
On the other side of the coin, always include your site's www
address on all of your advertising and on your business cards.
Your site will come to nothing if no one can find it on the web.
Check your site's listing in the various Internet search engines
to make sure that your site is listed. If not, submit your site
address for their review. Getting your business site listed on
some search engines may take some time - from a few days to a
If it is within your budget, a quicker way to get search engine
placement is to pay for your listing. You may sign-up for a
"pay-per-clicks" (PPC) search engine that may quickly generate
visitor traffic to your site within a couple days. With these
PPC search engines, you are paying for your site's listing
within their search engine. Generally, advertising rates are low
on these PPC search engines. You may be able get visitors to
your site for less than 10 cents per click.
For more information regarding how your small business can
effectively use PPC listings, check the following articles:
~ “Managing a Responsible Pay-Per-Click Campaign”
~ “Tips for Using Pay Per Click Search Engines”
~ “Search Engine Tips”
~ “Safe Bets for Start-ups”
~ “Getting Traffic to Your Website Yesterday”
~ “Smart Overture Gambits”
7. Customer Information
Ensure that your site is designed in a way to ensure collection
of site visitors' (and thus potential customers) email
Collecting visitor email addresses is vital because it provides
a very cheap way of building future relationships and to for
future marketing purposes. Make sure you let them know how their
email addresses will be used and always provide your visitors
the option of not submitting their addresses.
8. Site Traffic
Ensure that your site is well monitored via your site host (see
#5. Hosting Service). A site hosting service should be able to
tell you who visited your site, from where, what pages they
viewed, and at what time. This is all valuable marketing
information that will allow you to further refine your site and
improve customer service and revenue.
9. Effective & Efficient
Remember that your site is one of your windows for world to
view, thus a reflection of your whole business.
If your site's opening page takes a long time to load online
(display), your visitor and potential customer may not wait --
and move on to another site. To most people, a site's page can
never load fast enough online. Look for way to reduce the load
time of all pages within your site.
In addition, when a visitor and potential customer gets to your
opening page, can they quickly determine the products or
services that you offer? Again, if you make them search or guess
what products or services that you offer - they may move on to
10. Fresh Content
Update and change the content of your site, especially your
opening page, as often as possible, to ensure it doesn't become
dated. Your opening page (like a retail store front window) is
the site page that needs to be on target and the most
attractive. This is the page that you have to convince visitors
browse your site and displays your validity as a professional
Lastly, a site is never done. Try to schedule regular reviews of
your site by people inside and outside of your organization.
Determine if there is a better way to display the information
within your site. Is there a better way for a site visitor to
get to information within your site? If your site is going to be
effective, it has to be continually evaluated. If the site
doesn't change from month to month, visitors and potential
customers won't have a reason to come back. You want to give
them a reason to come back to your site.
You want to encourage site visitors to return again and again -
and thus provide your site more opportunities to convert them
into your paying customers.
Copyright Steven Presar
About the author:
Steven Presar is a recognized small business technology coach,
Internet publisher, author, speaker, and trainer. He provides
personal, home, and computer security solutions at
www.ProtectionConnect.com. He provides business software reviews
at www.OnlineSoftwareGuide.com. In addition, he publishes
articles for starting and running a small business at
www.Agora-Business-Center.com. Be sure to sign-up for the SOHO
newsletter at the site.