As a small business owner, you need to watch your wallet. In our 2017 small business sentiment study, we found that making enough money and controlling costs are top worries for local merchants nationwide. In addition, a 2017 State of Small Business Report revealed that budget concerns are top of mind for SMBs, with cash flow, growing revenue, and increasing profit listed among this year’s top five challenges for small business owners.
With so much to do and so little time, how do you figure out what might be nice to do someday versus what’s necessary to make happen today? The answer will vary depending on the specific goals of your business, but there’s one marketing tool that arguably every small business owner needs from the get-go: a business website.
Before you say that you don’t have extra time or resources to spend on a website right now, consider these facts:
- A recent study from .com and .net found that 91% of consumers search online for information about local products and services.
- The same research found that 93% of prospective buyers turn to the Internet to find out more about goods and services before purchasing items.
- According to Verisign, 84% of consumers feel that when a business has its own website, it’s more credible. And, 92% prefer getting information from a business website rather than a social media page.
With that in mind, here are four tips for building an effective business website that will help you get more customers and grow your business:
1. Start small and focused
As an entrepreneur, your ambition may lead you to bite off more than you can chew. With your first business website, less can be more as long as you focus on delivering a quality experience to prospective customers. While you can likely brainstorm a long list of pages with bells and whistles you’d like to include, if you start off with a smaller site, you’ll save money and time on design and maintenance.
Instead of building a 20-page site, for example, see if you can create an informative experience for visitors in 3-4 pages. Key features to include in this focused format are:
- A clear call to action to guide customers to their next step if they want to patronize your business
- Quick loading times with mobile optimization for maximum responsiveness
- Compelling images or videos that help create interest in your products or services
2. Give customers a reason to connect
The “look and feel” of your site is critical to establish a professional presence. A top-notch web designer can help you establish the right graphic presentation and ensure that your site is mobile-optimized. But it’s equally important to capture visitors’ interest once you get them to your site so that they’ll want to give you their business.
To that end, consider the story behind your business when crafting your messaging and put it in your “About Us” page. By creating a story that explains why you’re passionate about your business, you’ll create a deeper and more emotional connection with customers and prospects.
3. Tap into the power of social proof
Among all marketing methods, customer testimonials have been shown to offer the highest rate of effectiveness (nearly 90%) for content marketing. Testimonials validate your business and show prospects how your company is impacting people who are already patronizing your business.
A key goal of your website is to break through the noise and get your business noticed in a crowded field of competitors who may have similar offerings. Including a page on your site with supportive customer testimonials can help you create the needed differentiation as a recommended, go-to resource. To get started, ask your top customers if they’d be willing to write a short statement (even a few sentences) about their positive experience with your company.
4. Let keywords find customers for you
You can have a site with amazing visuals, high-quality content, and compelling testimonials — but if the people who want your services can’t find it, it will do you no good. This is why keywords should be the foundation of every page of content on your business website. The keywords you select should be closely tied to traffic (number of people looking for the keyword on a daily basis) and competition (how many other websites are attempting to also have a high ranking using the keyword).
It’s not always easy to figure out the best keywords to use, but your goal in the beginning should be to target “long-tail keywords,” which tend to be longer phrases specific to your company or industry. According to HubSpot Academy, long-tail keywords not only generate the most qualified traffic, but they are also easier to rank for since they have lower search traffic.