Website Tips for Local Small Business Marketing | Clarke Inc. Creative Marketing & Print Communication
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Website Tips for Local Small Business Marketing

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Navigating the universe known as the World Wide Web can be a challenge for anyone, especially a small business attempting to market their brand and grow their business.

Now that the internet is a main facet of society, the caliber of website design has transformed in remarkable ways. Whereas early websites were a simple variation of text and frames, modern website design has evolved to appeal to every market and consumer imaginable.

It can be tempting to feel the need to compete against the flashy websites and extensive portfolios of large companies. But what you can offer that they can’t is:direct, simple, and personal care.

Here are some tips that will steer your website in the right direction.

MAKE YOUR WEBSITE A PART OF YOUR MARKETING PLAN

A lot of business owners jump right into building a website because they feel like their business isn’t official until they have one. However, if you take a moment to stop and think about “what do I want to get out of this?” you can allocate the appropriate resources and make better choices. You will spend money on what you really want and need, and be able to measure ROI.

MAKE IT PART OF YOUR BUDGET

A website is an investment AND it is not a one-time expense. Once a website is built, it needs to be maintained and regularly updated. The level of effort on this depends on the marketing objectives of the website. If you make it part of your budget, it will reduce unexpected expenses and help you plan for improvements instead of fixes.

OWN YOUR WEBSITE

There are many options to having a website. One of them is to rent online space at low cost or for free by providers such as Squarespace or Wix. They promote themselves as the perfect solution for small businesses, but keep in mind they ultimately own the space, not you. This limits your control over how your website works, and your ability to scale the business’s online presence.

Owning your website means you have control over…

•Where it is hosted

•Who assists with building and maintaining it

•How traffic is generated

•Which integrations can be applied to increase functionality

•How the visitor experiences it

If a website developer says they only use their proprietary content management system for their websites, keep in mind that a website in their system can never be directly transferred to another developer. Be confident that it is the right relationship for you before signing the contract.

Consider what might be the best content management system by reviewing Website CMS Made Simple.

BE HELPFUL

If you want people to regularly visit your website, you have to promote more than just services or products. People are looking for lifestyle solutions and are trying to assess if your business can help deliver that. If the content on your website does more than self-promotion, it demonstrates you are in touch with your market and their needs.

A blog is a perfect tool for making this happen. Other options are videos, slide shows, and downloadable content. Write about what would interest your ideal client. Think about what they would type into search engines to find the answers they want.

BE TRANSPARENT

Keep in mind that 70% of website visitors are conducting research. If they can’t find what they are looking for, it will dramatically impact their likelihood of doing business with you.  It’s not just what you do or sell. They also want to know why you are in business, how you deliver your goods or services, and what it’s going to cost them.

Professional or service-based businesses have more to demonstrate because what they do is intangible and based on quality of relationships. A website for them must be thoughtfully designed in its communication.

Retail businesses should make it as easy as possible for the visitor to locate the products they are looking for and purchase them. High quality images and product descriptions are very important.

ADD CONTENT REGULARLY

A stagnant website is one that won’t get much traffic. It diminishes the point of having a website and turns it into an electronic brochure. The internet today is dynamic and evolving; your website should do the same if you want to meet modern consumer expectations.

The best content to add regularly is the helpful information described earlier. Once a week is good for most small businesses, and those dependent on a web presence should add content 2-3 times a week.

MAKE IT MOBILE

I am sure you’ve read it and heard it a million times; your website has to be mobile. This is repeated endlessly since a shocking number of so-called modern websites are horrible for users on phones or tablets. There are two primary options to choose between: a stand-alone mobile site or building a responsive website. Check out this article for the pros and cons of each. Go another level and dive into the app world with Best for Mobile Usability, App or Website?

USE SENSIBLE SEO PRACTICES

This is where things can get overwhelmingly technical for business owners. You don’t need to become a search engine optimization (SEO) expert, but it is important to understand some basics so you don’t get talked into the latest promise of a digital ad salesman or marketer.

The internet world is becoming more and more competitive. Do not expect to get lots of quality traffic at little or minimal effort. You can build an amazing website but they will not come on their own. In online marketing, you have to earn what you get.

Hire an expert to help you with website traffic. Here is what Google recommends. If they are very transparent about what they do, and the results you expect are reasonable (based on their past clients), then they are probably a good fit for your business.

USE ANALYTICS

It’s important to always know what is happening with your website traffic. To achieve this, Google analytics is a free tool to use. A tracking code is easily installed in your website, which allows you to review analytic information any time and up to the minute.

For a little deeper dive on getting found organically, check out Five Search Engine Ranking Factors Important to Business Owners. Important stats to know are the number of visitors per month.  

Also, Google analytics tracks the sources of the traffic, such as organic, referral from other websites, social media, or direct from someone typing the url address. Check how many people are visiting with their mobile device; it may surprise you.

INTEGRATE SOCIAL MEDIA AND EMAIL MARKETING

A website cannot stand alone successfully. If you want to use it to generate customers and nurture relationships, then it is critical to have sign up forms for email marketing and buttons for social media. These two activities are crucial for bringing visitors back to your website and increasing your business’s perceived value in their life.

Need some inspiration? Review “best of” examples in 4 Examples of Good Websites from Local and National Retail Companies and 6 Examples of Good Websites from Great Non-Profits.

Is it time for a website upgrade? If you are not sure, you’ll find some answers here in Website Trends in 2014 You Don’t Want to Miss. Discover if your website is operating or not with a competitive edge in its design.

Now go make your website work for your business!

Andrew Osborne
andrew@bebetterdomore.com

Andrew works as our Preflight Engineer, Graphic Designer, Web Designer, and all-around computer guru. He has won several academic and design awards during his career. Print, Web Design, and Tablet applications are his specialties and he knows how to make effective designs that call out to customers.

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