If you're like any of the dozens of business owners or organization leads that I meet with week in and week out; then you don't give a second thought to the business that you are losing online every day.
Let me tell you a story:
A business owner I know in South-east Ohio was looking for a mobile paper shredding service.
She delegated the task to an intern, who immediately went to Google; They hired the company from a hit on a website, without ever opening the yellow pages.
The company had good reviews from clients, and a local phone number. The business owner was astounded that they didn't come from the yellow pages.
In the homes of most of my colleagues, the yellow pages are sitting firmly beneath some heavy door, and have been for years.
Friends, the internet is now truly everywhere and if you don't have a website, you're not in the game.
In 1998, to have an internet presence was 'pretty cool' for the typical Small or Medium company but you wouldn't see any new volume from it.
In 2000, it seemed like you could find anything online;
By 2005, if you didn't have a website, people noticed and
In 2009, if your website isn't working for you; then it's working against you.
The good news is that its simple to get _more_ from your website.
If you don't have a website or need help figuring this stuff out; contact me to get you started, and do not be dismayed because it's often easier to start from scratch.
Here are the five simple rules of getting more out of your website
Make your website easy to use
Your website is the face of your business; If your website is cumbersome, and flashy, but has nothing to offer, that's going to reflect on your work.
Anyone can make a website with off-the-shelf software; This is fine if you want to show off your great-uncle's fishing lure collection, but please, don't do this to your business.
There is a lot that goes on behind-the-scenes of the initial set-up of a website that requires professional attention and expertise to make it easy to use, easy to navigate, accessible to people with disabilities, and ultimately, effective at converting visitors to clients.
That being said, some web-professionals will want to bring you back in for every piddly update; This means that when your staff or product changes at all, you would pay them high hourly rates to make minor adjustments.
Part of having a website that is easy to use, is the ability to easily make updates; Work with a web-professional to get your site setup with simple tools for managing your website.
Make your website easy to find and search
There are lots of things you can do here, and this is another area where getting a professional to do the initial leg work (and using software to maintain it behind-the-scenes) is of vital importance.
As the one who oversees the website you have to do the following things:
Again, this is the bare bones of what you need to know, and there is a lot more that is well beyond the scope of this document.
Give something back and create an audience
You, have the opportunity to provide a service through your website that can be mutually beneficial to you and your visitors.
Let's explore one option, create a 'question and answer' service. On your website promote a page that says 'Ask the expert!'; direct your other forms of marketing online, as it's often the quickest and easiest way for your potential customers to explore your organization and its message.
Allow visitors to submit questions to you, for you to answer. Whatever your profession is, people have questions about it. For you, an expert in your field, to be able to answer them provides credibility, adds to your reputation, and ultimately, will increase the visitors to your site and turn into increased sales.
The second benefit of a question and answer service is for your website to increase rank in google's search engine and show up in more results.
If you are answering specific questions, the first thing that most people will do is search google for their question; if you come up, and answer their question, you will get increased visitors, and again, increased sales.
Gather As Much Data as Possible
Step 1) Use an analytics package provided as part of your website setup, or use a third party.
Analytics packages will track where your visitors are coming from, what they searched to get to your site, what they looked at, which region they live in, and many many more aspects. These are key to determining if your website is effective or not.
Step 2) Make it easy, and give users an incentive to submit their data, build up an e-mail list, and use it.
Convert your audience to clients
This is the most important step, but if you've done the rest right, it's the easiest.
You've got an audience, you have dozens or hundreds of people coming to your site each week to get information; you've gotten many of them to give you permission to contact them personally, now what?
This is where you get back to the basics, and the personalized approach that you take to your small business becomes your most valuable asset again. You let them know about promotions that you're giving to your mailing list, you offer incentives to come in (10% off tire alignment if you say 'thanks for the e-mail Mark!')
For questions, or how to get started with any of these things, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
20th January 2009
I won't ever give out your email address. I don't publish comments but if you'd like to write to me then you could use this form.
I'm Issac. I live in Oakland. I make things for fun and money. I use electronics and computers and software. I manage teams and projects top to bottom. I've worked as a consultant, software engineer, hardware designer, artist, technology director and team lead. I do occasional fabrication in wood and plastic and metal. I run a boutique interactive agency with my brother Kasey and a roving cast of experts at Kelly Creative Tech. I was the Director of Technology for Nonchalance during the The Latitude Society project. I was the Lead Web Developer and then Technical Marketing Engineer at Nebula, which made an OpenStack Appliance. I've been building things on the web and in person since leaving Ohio State University's Electrical and Computer engineering program in 2007. Lots of other really dorky things happened to me before that, like dropping out of high school to go to university, getting an Eagle Scout award, and getting 6th in a state-wide algebra competition. I have an affinity for hopscotch.