Article contributed by Dequiana Jackson, Founder and CEO of Inspired Marketing, Inc.
According to compete.com, 61% of online shoppers use search engines to discover information when shopping online. Since 55% of small businesses don’t have a website (2014 Google/IPSOS), you’ve already got a jump on your competition if yours is up and running.
When thinking of creating a fully optimized site, most business owners want something that is responsive, SEO friendly, and mobile-ready. Those things are important but won’t mean anything if you don’t have these seven basic elements on your site.
#1 A design consistent with your brand
All pages should have similar design elements. Your logo, if you have one, should appear on your stationery, website and business card so potential clients will start to associate it with your brand. For example, each of my companies and the blog feature a butterfly in the formal logo.
Your color scheme should also be consistent. Your home page shouldn’t be bright orange, while your contact us page is black. Each page should look similar enough so that visitors know they’re on the same website. Do not confuse your potential customer, as confused customers don’t buy.
#2 A compelling, benefit driven message on the home page
Your site should immediately tell potential customers how you can help them. The biggest mistake I see on many small business sites is that the largest text on the page is, “Welcome to my company!” If I was the one who typed www.yourcompany.com to get to your site, I know where I am. Customers may appreciate the polite welcome, but they’re at your site to find out how your business will help them get over their biggest pain or solve their problem.
If you specialize in pet photography, for example, your message might be, “Capturing the memory of your pet for years to come.” Make it compelling to your potential customers.
#3 A clear description of your products & services
This is not the time for company acronyms, jargon or big words. Speak in the language of your customers and be clear. Do not use vague product or service descriptions. They should not read like this, “XYZ, Inc. is a leader in the development, design, and distribution of premium quality and sustainable lifestyle products.” What does XYZ, Inc. sell: vitamins, a coaching package, yoga DVDs? No, this retailer sells clothes. You wouldn’t be able to get this just from reading the above description because it’s so vague. Be very clear in your messaging.
#4 Easy-to-find contact information
Don’t leave potential customers guessing on how they can contact you. Place your email, phone and address (if not private) in a visible area of your site. You don’t want it to appear that you’re not a real business or a company with something to hide. Don’t get visitors to your website who are ready to buy and not give them a way to contact you. You’ll lose them to a competitor who makes their contact information easier to find.
#5 A clear path to purchase
If you run an ecommerce site, make it as easy as possible for your customers to buy from you. Work to get customers from reading the product description to check out in a few clicks as possible. They should not have to search for the buy now button or click four levels deep to purchase a product from your site. If you take too long, shoppers will abandon their carts. Also, include your terms and conditions, return policy and a list of frequently asked questions on your site.
#6 A person behind the curtain
Identity theft and fraud are prevalent. Before people trust you with their payment information, they need to know you run a real company. People buy from those they know, like and trust. Include elements in your site that increase your credibility, such as photos, client lists, a biography and customer testimonials. Those testimonials should include a name, location and possibly a website so that people know they aren’t made up. It helps to see that someone else trusted you with their business and received a great result in return.
#7 A way to capture leads
Include an email sign-up form to collect contact information from visitors who aren’t ready to buy today. Don’t be afraid to give something away in exchange for that address. Then, send out regular, helpful information to this list to keep your company top of mind. You can also include messages that introduce new products or services to further engage potential customers, but don’t make every email blast a sales pitch. I use Mailchimp, but there are a host of other tools, including Constant Contact and AWeber, that you can use to build your mailing list.
About the Author
Dequiana Jackson, Founder and CEO of Inspired Marketing, Inc., is a WordPress web site designer and small business marketing coach who helps women entrepreneurs find their life’s purpose and turn it into a profitable, service-based business. Dequiana is the author of 50+ Marketing and Promotion Ideas for Small Businesses and runs the award-winning small business blog, Entrepreneur-Resources.net.