Every business should have a website, right?
True. Every business, big or small, should have some sort of web presence. The internet is part of every day life and, as you don’t need thousands of pounds to get a business online now, there really is little excuse for a business not to a have a website created at some point.
But my question to you today is whether your website is a help or a hindrance?
Just because you’re online, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s doing anything for you. And worse case scenario is that your website could actually be working against you.
Let’s look at how the average person uses the web. Did you know that the average time it takes for someone to “read” a website is 3 seconds?
Think back to the last time you used Google to find something. You may have been looking for the best place to buy toner cartridges for your printer. It could have been that you were trying to find a villa or cottage to rent for your holiday this summer.
Do you remember how long you took to make the decision to hit that back button and go on to the next website on the search results listings? I am pretty sure it took you less than that average of 3 seconds on the websites that didn’t grab you.
How long would it take for a visitor landing on your home page to make a decision to stay or go? 1 minute? 10 seconds? Or less than the average 3 seconds?
And imagine if they were on hold to their bank at the time. Or waiting for a file to download on to their laptop, whilst they click through to your website. How is your website grabbing their attention?
It could be that your website is being more of a hindrance, than a help!
Here are some of the common “hindrances” that I see every day on websites that don’t generate any leads or new clients for a business.
1. A website that talks about the company and not the potential customer.
Look at your home page and for every “We”, “I” and your company name, exchange it for the words “You”, “You” and “You”. People are only interested in themselves when they are looking for someone to help them. It’s all very well that you are the market leaders in what you do, but how is that going to benefit your clients?
2. A website that is so obviously “home-made”.
You may have gone on a HTML programming course to save yourself a few pennies. You may have even used your next door neighbour’s son who is studying IT at Uni. But saving money on your website to end up with a site that doesn’t work in a particular browser or doesn’t display on a mobile phone will only push clients away. There is really little excuse not to have a nicely designed website. Using blog platforms such as wordpress.org, for example, mean that you can have a simple, professional looking site that works, set up for as little as £500.
3. A website that has a fussy design, clashing colours and is more concerned with how pretty or trendy it looks.
Internet users want to find their information quickly, rather than hunt for it in cleverly worded menus or images. Flash introductions just annoy – remember the 3 second time limit. Unless your clients expect to watch a dancing cartoon or slideshow, they will be gone before it’s finished playing!
4. A website with no obvious purpose.
Static brochure style websites just don’t “do” anything. They may look pretty and give lots of information, but what is that website visitor meant to do? Picking up the phone and making an enquiry may just be too big a leap to make. They will more than likely leave and move on to the next site on their search lists.
This last point has to be the one that I rant about the most. A website with no obvious purpose is a waste of time. It just floats around in hyperspace, gathering pixel dust and being ignored by by anyone who happens to stumble upon it.
For the majority of small businesses, the most effective purpose to give your website is to help build a database of potential customers.
The competition to be found through search engines is so fierce, you can’t afford to trust that your website visitors will bookmark your site and come back another day. They will have found what they are looking for by then and you’ll have lost a client.
Having a website whose primary purpose is to invite visitors to leave their name and email address has been proved to be one of the most successful online marketing strategies to have for the majority of small businesses.
It creates the opportunity for you to build a relationship with that visitor so, over time, they trust you enough to become a paying customer.
How do you do this?
Capturing names and email addresses by offering something in return is something so simple and yet so many small business owners don’t do this. And the easiest way of offering something in return is to offer a free newsletter, a free e-course or free report. The options available to you are limitless.
You may be keen to start your own email newsletter but feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information out there. I know I get enough emails asking me about them so if you haven’t started one or in the early stages of creating a database, then do check out my “How To Do Email Newsletters” programme starting this month.
In the meanwhile, start by checking out your website right now. Ask yourself – is yours a help or a hindrance?
And what are you going to do about it?
About the Author: Karen Skidmore helps small business owners work smarter and use the right marketing tools so they can attract more of the right clients to their business. To subscribe to her free email newsletter and get access to practical advice and marketing ideas that will move your business forward, visit www.CanDoCanBe.com