Buying a surf board does not make you a surfer. The same applies to having a website. Registering your domain and getting an online footprint for your small business is not enough – you need to pick up the board and stride into the waves.
Digital technology infiltrates most aspects of our lives so it is little wonder that 67% of consumers are searching the web before they visit a local business. Of the approximately 5.4m SMEs across the UK, almost three-quarters of them have an online presence. How can you ensure that your website stands out in the internet crowds? You site needs to attract new customers and boost engagement in your products or services. Being online could be a business gamechanger, but only if you maximise the opportunities it offers.
I know what you’re thinking: I don’t have the time/expertise/money to do anything more with my website. Making your site work harder for your business doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. If you are a small operation, you can easily manage the website yourself, investing as much time and money into it as you have available. You may even find that a smart approach to digital marketing could save you money and help your business grow.
Start by reviewing your homepage; ask yourself ‘what will a customer be looking for?’ There is nothing more frustrating (and off-putting) for a potential customer than an unclear website that doesn’t have the sought-after information clearly and accurately displayed. Include your address, contact details, opening times, and brief details of your products and services on the main page. Update these whenever things change; if you want peoples’ business, you need to make it easy for them to find you. Our research found that 63% of consumers would not return if they found a business shut despite online opening times suggesting otherwise. Don’t make this mistake as inaccuracies could lose you customers. Subscribe to Google My Business to ensure up-to-date information is available to those coming across your products or services online.
Consider establishing an email subscription service so you can contact customers with relevant details, news and information. Relevance is key here. A personalised email communication will have a better impact and boost engagement. These emails could be used to share offers or deals to encourage purchases, or links to relevant stories that might be of interest.
The articles you create to share with subscribers could also be used to populate a blog. This helps keep the website active and inspires confidence in your experience and expertise. Try to think of some ideas that relate to your business that aren’t blatant sales pitches. If you have a cake business, share some recipes. A yoga teacher could share advice about general wellness or the benefits of yoga practice. Don’t be afraid to add some personality into your content too. A personal touch can often make a difference to attracting new customers, building a relationship with your readers.
A degree of trust and proof of authenticity are both crucial in an age of online scams and hacks. A blog should help, and testimonials are a powerful means of fostering belief in your business. Encourage returning or happy customers to write a few lines about their experience. Including these on your sites adds an external voice to your material and will help persuade the unsure. You could also consider joining an external review community such as Trustpilot to gather feedback.
Social media can be a powerful tool if used wisely and effectively; think of these sites as complementary to your own. Consider which platform(s) works best for your business and plan posts that will appeal to your existing customers and attract new ones. For example, a local café could use their Facebook account to share the daily menu, while a manicurist could post images on Instagram of beautiful painted nails. Don’t try and do everything – pick a social media site that suits your business and commit to getting it right.
Time is perpetually in short supply when running your own business, but anything you can spare for your website development could translate into business growth, improving your reputation and helping you engage more effectively with your customers. View energy spent on developing the site as an investment in your business; learning to be a pro surfer takes time, but the skills can’t be unlearnt nor the benefits forgotten.
Get some practical tips on making your website work harder for you on our sister site, The UK Domain.