Every small business needs a website, right?
Of course they do! In this day and age, it’s almost sacrilege to run a business without a website. You’d be run out of town if you tried to argue you could run a business without a website.
What most people don’t know is why they need a website, and what it needs to do in order to be a valuable business asset.
Without knowing what your website is really for, it can never really help your business. In today’s post, I’m hoping to shed a little light on what a small business’ website should actually do for the business, and why it’s important for you to be clear on what the point of your website is.
The point of having a small business website
So, why exactly should a small business have a website? The simple answer: to help grow the business. Now you’re thinking “Gee, thanks so much for that incredible insight!” I know, I know, this isn’t exactly rocket science here, but it’s an important point. Why? Because most people’s websites don’t do anything to help their businesses.
In my experience, there are three key things that a website can (and should) do to help you grow your business and attract new customers. A small business website needs to inform customers, provide a means for connecting with them, and gather customer insights.
If a website does these three things, there’s a good chance that you’re getting big bang for your digital buck.
Let’s dig into these three things…
Inform your customers
Most people treat their sites like digital brochures. They set up a website, post a couple of pictures and paragraphs about their business, add a “Contact us” page and voila they have a website. Then, it just sits there for 10 years collecting dust.
There’s nothing wrong with having static content on your website. In fact, it’s very important to have the basic home page, about us, contact us, etc. on your site. This fulfills, in part, the need for a website to inform your customers about your business.
What most businesses tend to get wrong here is two-fold: the valuable content they have is hard for visitors to consume, and there is a lack of fresh content on the site. Content has to be nicely formatted, easy to read/ play/ listen to, and easy to find. If not, your content might as well not be there.
As for fresh content, it’s important to add and modify content to your site on a regular basis. This does two things: it lets Google know that your site is still up-to-date and provides value to customers (leading to better search engine rankings) and it provides ongoing value to your customers, who are more likely to visit your site and do business with you.
Connect with customers and prospects
While the “Inform” element is key, it’s fairly basic. It’s a one-way street. When your website helps you to connect with your customers, and potential future customers, your marketing efforts levels up in a big way.
Think about it: if the people who visited your site had a way to interact with you, there’s no end to what you could do. You could figure out what they like or don’t like about your products or services. You could promote a special event you’re having later on in the week. You could ask what products they wished you had so that you could add them to your line up. All you have to do is ask!
This is fundamental to any marketing effort – all marketing is is figuring out what your target audience needs and then giving it to them. If you can interact with that audience, you can figure out what they need.
So how do you use your website to connect with customers? Advertise your social media accounts and promise to give people something for signing up (i.e. 10% discount on their next visit). Even better than that is to have a mailing list opt-in form on your site. Often when I do this for one of my sites, I offer people a free PDF download when they sign up. A restaurant, for example, might give someone their top 5 recipes in a PDF for free. This will help to grow your email list, which is by far the best way to reach your customers.
Gather customer insights
Finally, I think a small business website should provide business owners with customer insights. Most interesting to me is how people behave when they’re on your site. Using free software, like Google Analytics, you can gather anonymous user data to learn how your website gets used.
For example, you could see what your most or least popular pages are to see what people are interested in. You could track what search terms get used when people visit your site to see if people expect you to offer certain products or services. You could see how people find your site to see if other websites are promoting you organically. If you have a goal of growing your email list (highly recommended), you could track how well certain pages convert. The possibilities are limitless.
If your website doesn’t inform your customers, help you to connect with them, and give you insights into how you can improve your business, fear not! It’ll be OK. You’ve got room for improvement, but nobody’s perfect. If you need help with implementing any of this stuff, just leave your questions and website address in the comments section below and we’d be happy to lend a hand!