Fairfax / Newcastle Herald column February, 2015
YOUR website should be a critical meeting point between your business and your customers.
Maintaining a modern, optimised website is absolutely crucial to acquiring new customers, building credibility and nurturing client relationships in today’s web-connected world.
However, a recent survey conducted by the Hunter Research Foundation found that only 57per cent of companies questioned have a dedicated website despite more than 70per cent of the companies surveyed using the internet to conduct business-related research and to purchase goods and services themselves.
On top of that, it appears that about a third of business owners maintain their websites themselves. This results in them neglecting key site functions customers want, such as mobile optimisation, social network integration and user-friendly design.
My team and I launch dozens of business websites each year and assist numerous other businesses to improve the performance of their existing sites.
We find there are some very common issues with most small business websites that are preventing them from achieving great results. Some are easy to fix, others require a significant effort or total redesign.
Here are the most common issues we encounter in small business websites:
By taking design into their own hands, small businesses invariably end up with poor designs that do not reflect well on their brands. Yes, it can be quite quick, easy and inexpensive to design your own website these days but unfortunately, these sites are easy to spot due to their poor designs. First impressions count online as much as they do in real life.
Without a main call-to-action, potential customers won’t know why they are visiting your website or what your company has to offer.
Websites are becoming increasingly sophisticated and this also means they can require an increased amount of time on updates and adding new features. When you maintain your website yourself, you run the risk of wasting time that would be better allocated to cultivating your business.
Without the right metrics in place, businesses are unable to track their progress, their reach or their customers’ habits or needs.
Discoverability is crucial to help potential customers find your company.
No social media links
By allowing your customers to share their experience with your brand via social media channels, you’re enabling information about your business to reach people you may not have otherwise targeted. Never underestimate the power of a social media referral; it’s digital word-of-mouth marketing-3.
No mobile optimisation
Most people today view websites on their mobile devices. Without the technology to engage this group, small businesses are missing out on key consumers.
No dedicated IT person
The sad truth is that whiee they are fantastic marketing tools, websites can also be an electronic doorway into your business, and there are, unfortunately, plenty of less than ethical people online looking for vulnerable websites. Without designated IT help, small businesses risk security breaches or costly mistakes. But this doesn’t always require an in-house IT person. Using professional suppliers should mean that IT help is included in your website.
Address these issues and you will be well on the way to having a significantly more successful site that delivers qualified traffic and potential customers.